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What Are YOU Thankful For?

What Are YOU Thankful For?

Editor's Note: In honor of Thanksgiving, we asked our "New Normal" contributors to reflect on the intersection of gratitude and disability. We'd love to hear what you are thankful for in the comments below!

When I thought about the question, what I am grateful/thankful for, the answer came to me very quickly. I am grateful that my parents, my family and my friends constantly reinforced the notion “to keep trying.”

I survived a long struggle with the Rhesus (RH) negative blood exchange. After several full body exchanges, at birth, I survived but not without life changes. I cannot hear anything with my right ear, or see almost anything out of my right eye, and I have over 60 years of orthopedic issues on my right side. I was raised to believe there is no failure as long as you try. When I applied to one of several Rabbinical Schools, I was told “We would be wasting our/your time because you don’t hear well.” As I got up to leave, I said to the committee, “It’s true that I have a hearing problem– but YOU have a listening problem.”

I am thankful that after 37 years as a Rabbi, my family and friends taught me that trying and listening are more important than just hearing. I hope that during these 37 years as a Rabbi, I have been able to get others to keep trying. I have been truly grateful for the basic lesson: Keep trying.

Rabbi Daniel T. Grossman led Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrenceville, New Jersey for 25 years. He is a graduate of Temple University, Hebrew University, Merkaz HaRav Kook in Jerusalem and the Reconstructionist Rabbincal College. Rabbi Grossman also works in the field of Jewish Special Education and co-wrote and participated in the video “Someone is Listening,” the story of a young deaf Jew and his search for fulfillment as a Jewish adult. He is fluent in several sign languages.
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