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Special Needs, Special Gifts

Barbara Bensoussan

The message of Shavuos — “naaseh v’nishma —we’re ready to do Your Will, whatever it may be” — wasn’t an intellectual concept in the Reisman home. It was an axiom the family lived by. Even though four out of the eleven children were developmentally disabled, there was no hashkafic angst, no bitt erness or self-pity. Never questioning Hashem’s decisions, the Reismans built a happy home with a bedrock of bitachon, creating stability amid disability.

Monday, May 13, 2013

heart in handSpeeches at fundraising dinners aren’t usually noted for riveting their audiences, most of whom are busy digging into the prime rib and stifling yawns. But this year’s speech at the annual dinner for OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services inNew York Citywas an exception: Not only did it captivate the crowd, it left both speaker and listeners choked with tears.

For the first time, Hinda Mizrahi related in public the story of her parents — Rabbi Yaakov Reisman, rav of Agudath Israel of Long Island, and Rebbetzin Chasya, the daughter of Rav Mordechai Gifter ztz”l — and how they raised a large family that included four sons with developmental disabilities.

“I never imagined my speech would get the kind of response it did,” says Hinda, who lives in Long Beach, New Yorkwith her husband and son. “So many people were affected — yeshivish people, chassidic people, non-frum people, non-Jewish people. “I came away from the speech feeling like my whole life — everything I’ve experienced, everything I’ve been through — was just for this moment. I felt I had a message to give, and that I was meant to give it at that very moment.”


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