When Hampton Roads wants to check the temperature of the Jewish Community, it calls Rabbi Michael Panitz. When the local media wants the Jewish perspective on current events, arts and culture or history, they reach out to Rabbi Panitz. And when local clergy want to share Jewish thought with their congregations, they call on Rabbi Panitz.

It’s been that way for thirty years, since a young Michael Panitz, his wife Sheila, and their three children – Emily, Zeke and Benjamin – came to Norfolk to assume the pulpit of Temple Israel in 1992. Trained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was ordained as a Rabbi in 1982 and where he received a Ph.D. in Jewish history in 1989, Rabbi Panitz was the unanimous choice of the Search Committee to serve as our Rabbi. For all these 30 years, his spiritual leadership on the pulpit and his guidance and support for congregants has made him respected and loved by all. Whether it be for positive events in their life or at a time of loss or despair, Rabbi Panitz's heimish demeanor makes him so warmly approachable, and his understanding and guidance give so much good advice and comfort.

Jewish education has always been a love and focus in his life. Since coming to Hampton Roads, Rabbi Panitz has been active in the field of adult Jewish education, teaching for the Florence Melton Adult Mini School since its inception in South Hampton Roads. He has taught religious studies, history and Hebrew language at Old Dominion University and Virginia Wesleyan University. He regularly contributes to national scholarly journals and gives lectures on a variety of topics, from Judaism to music to history, often interweaving the three.

Possessed of a razor-sharp wit and an unabashed love for a joke (the cornier, the better it seems), there is little he likes more than a rousing game of Stump the Rabbi. And almost nothing he likes more than answering thoughtful questions from eager learners. We are so proud to honor our beloved Rabbi of three decades, Dr. Michael E. Panitz.

There will be a slide show at the event. If you have pictures of Rabbi Panitz and/or his family that you would like others to see, please e-mail or send in a copy to the Temple Office.

Tickets to this event have SOLD OUT, but we are accepting photos for the slide show until Friday, March 17th.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם

V'shinan'tam l'vanekha v'dibar'ta bam
. . . and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them. . .

Welcome to Temple Israel

We are a vibrant, egalitarian, Conservative Jewish congregation, striving to meet the spiritual, educational, life cycle and social needs of our diverse membership. Through fulfillment of mitzvot, we provide opportunities for meaningful living for our synagogue membership.
Together in our quest for religious fulfillment

Temple Israel exists to help its congregants and the surrounding community find greater meaning in life and to build community. Our twice-daily services as well as Shabbat and Holiday worship involve wide participation from our members. Under the leadership of Rabbi Panitz, Temple Israel welcomes and seeks to empower ever richer spiritual life.

While we are a Conservative synagogue, we recognize that many non-Jewish spouses or relatives seek to have a meaningful part in life cycle celebrations and in holiday events. We always welcome anyone interested in Judaism to attend events at Temple Israel. We seek to find appropriate ways to help them take part. For example, a non-Jewish parent of a bar or bat mitzvah child is welcome to ascend the bima with the Jewish parent and to offer words of praise and encouragement to the child as part of a tallit presentation. The non-Jewish spouse may stand on the bima with the Jewish partner who is having an aliyah. In most celebrations there are some elements that are not distinctively Jewish–a prayer for our country or a prayer for peace, for example, on Shabbat are entirely appropriate for anyone to lead.

Click Here to view weekly messages from Rabbi Panitz and Cantor Proser on YouTube & Live Streamed Services

Temple News

From Rabbi Panitz

  • Rabbi’s Weekly Message

    Rabbi’s Message: March 16, 2023, 2023. WHAT IS THE REWARD FOR FULFILLING THE MITZVOT ?   Illustration: “Virtue is Its Own Reward” (poster from the...

  • Rabbi’s Weekly Message

    Rabbi’s Message: March 9, 2023, 2023. THE RELEVANCE OF ESTHER Illustration: Esther and Mordecai, Ferdinand Bol, 1654               As the holiday of Purim passes...

  • Rabbi’s Weekly Message

    Rabbi’s Message: Mar 2, 2023, 2023. Purim: How Judaism Connects the Timeless and the Timely Illustration: traditional Purim accoutrements:...

Service Times
  • Worship Morning Service Times

    • Minyan Services: Monday – Thursday, 7:30 am at Temple Israel
    • Minyan Services: Friday, 7:30 am at Temple Israel
    • Shabbat Services: Saturday, 9:30 am at Temple Israel
    • Sunday Morning Minyan Services will be at 8:00 am at Temple Israel
  • Worship Evening Services Times

    Minyan Services Monday – Thursday alternates each month, with odd months at Temple Israel (January, March, May, July, September, November) and even months at Congregation Beth El (February, April, June, August, October, December) at 5:45 pm.

    • Minyan Services: Saturday, 12:30 pm
    • Friday Evening Sabbath Services, 5:30 pm at Temple Israel
    • Shabbat Evening Service immediately follows Shabbat Kiddush, 1:30 pm at Temple Israel
    • Minyan Services: Sunday, 5:45 pm at Temple Israel.

Norfolk’s Friendly, Affordable Synagogue

Welcoming all, Temple Israel offers a lively meeting place for hundreds of individuals and families in Southeastern Virginia.

Join us as we celebrates the fullness of Jewish life together. Our building is handicapped-accessible and we are sensitive to the needs of those with disabilities.

We welcome military families, and make extra efforts to accommodate the spiritual life of those deployed to this area for however long or short a time.

Join us for engaging holiday and Shabbat worship. Want to learn more Hebrew or to get an understanding of interesting elements of Jewish history or of  Talmud? We have free classes. Want to learn to chant Torah or Esther or sections from the Prophets? Join the band of folks who have enjoyed mastering those challenges in recent years. All aspects of temple life are open, to provide you with opportunities for personal growth and leadership skills.

Enjoy entertaining musical programs and take part in fulfilling social action projects, take classes, enjoy social get-togethers. We are a partner in Beit Sefer Shalom, the community Conservative Religious School serving Congregation Beth El, KBH, and Temple Israel.

Want a low-stress way to celebrate your birthday or an important anniversary with friends? Let Shabbat be your occasion for gathering your dear ones. Let us celebrate with you at kiddush luncheon.

Temple Israel is, in the words of our mission statement, “a vibrant, egalitarian Conservative, Jewish congregation, striving to meet the spiritual needs of a diverse membership.”  Or in the words of one of the first graders, “It’s the fun place. It’s where I see my friends.”

Feel free to visit us any Shabbat morning for prayer and fellowship, or any morning or afternoon for daily minyan.