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.

We are compiling a Tribute Book. Half-page tributes are $50 Full-page tributes are $100

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.

The cost is just $36 per person for the chance to honor them in person.

Sponsorships are available:

Bernstein $7,500 with 12 tickets

Mozart $5,000 with 10 tickets

Bartok $2,500 with 8 tickets

Beethoven $1,000 with 6 tickets

Gershwin $500 with 4 tickets

Bach $250 with 2 tickets

Reserve your tickets today!

A Shabbat Celebration Coming Straight To Your Computer Screen

Rabbi Panitz and Cantor Proser (of Kempsville Conservative Synagogue) are teaming up to provide the members of both of of our congregations a Shabbat experience to sustain us through these trying times.

Each week, they will pre-record a Shabbat sermon, the Friday night Kiddush and highlights of the beloved prayers. You will be able to access this pre-recorded program every Friday on YouTube, beginning at noon. We will provide you with the link when the video is ready to be viewed, OR you can search for our channel, "Temple Israel Norfolk."

(Special thanks to James Lewis, the videographer of Christ and St. Luke's Church in Norfolk, for supporting this endeavor as a gesture of good interfaith neighborliness.)