May 05, 2006

On the Journey Towards Accepting my Fears

"Sometimes it's really hard to get up in the morning," the rabbi told us.

He was middle-aged, but he had a very young, enthusiastic spirit as he told us about his synagogue in Jerusalem where people with intellectual disabilities not only were welcome but had become key members of the community. We laughed as he told us funny stories about how people with disabilities had helped to break down barriers between groups in his synagogue. He acknowledged that his congregation's openness to people with intellectual disabilities had caused some to leave - yet far more new people had joined, attracted by the spirit of acceptance and inclusion.

The rabbi also shared with us some of his own story - about meeting his wife on a kibbutz and, with her, making the decision to stay in Israel and raise their children, now talented young adults off on their own. This remarkable man told us all that, but what I remember, word for word, was that one sentence of admission, "Sometimes it's really hard to get up in the morning." We had asked him what it was like to live in the midst of such conflict and insecurity, and he had told us the truth.

It is sometimes hard for me too. I don't live in war-torn Israel, but some mornings I am also afraid of the day. I am grateful for having met that vulnerable rabbi that day in Jerusalem. He took the risk to share with us the humanity of his fear. His story gave me courage to accept my own.


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