Monthly Archives: August 2009

How our Differently-Abled Daughter brought Blessing to our Congregation

Rabbi Michael Panitz
Temple Israel, Norfolk
As a rabbi, I have had many opportunities to observe the various culture of community that congregations form. Some are accepting of diversity, some are fearful of it and closed off.As the father of aneurologically-handicapped adult daughter, I have had a great emotional, as well as professional, investment in finding– and promoting– openness to (and indeed celebration of) human diversity in the congregations that I serve. My wife, Sheila, and I raised all of our children, including Emily, within the congregation, and the congregants embraced her. My part of the story, therefore, was to model and even to expect inclusion. That has been a success story, and that in itself would be worth stressing. But there is more: What neither my training nor my professional abilities have prepared me for, however, is the degree to which Emily herself entered the life of our congregation, and the …