High school senior Danuta Epstein welcomed an interested audience to “her” synagogue, Kempsville Conservative Synagogue/Kehillat Bet Hamdrash on Sunday, Feb. 23, to present her senior project for the Global Studies World Language Academy located in Tallwood High School.
Her topic? Similarities, Differences, and Views of Terror of the three Abrahamic Faiths. Her technique? Danuta moderated a stimulating panel discussion among Rabbi Michael Panitz, Imam Vernon Fareed, and Father James Parke.
More than 60 guests listened intently as the clergy answered Danuta’s thought-provoking, deep, and meaningful questions with confidence, clarity, and respect for each other.
After about an hour of responding to Danuta’s prepared questions, the panelists were ready for a brief break. Imam Fareed suggested that the audience also break and help themselves to the refreshments provided by Danuta’s proud parents, Christine and Sam Epstein. Then, it was the audience’s turn, so they submitted questions in writing for Rabbi Panitz, Imam Fareed and Father Parke. While Danuta continued to moderate, the panelists responded to every question, and some of them were not easy.
Danuta’s Judaism is a very important part of her life, and, when faced with the challenge of selecting the topic for her senior project, it was a clear choice. Audience members say that they learned new things about the various faiths and often found the responses to be spiritual and profound.
Note: As a friend of the family, a member of the congregation, and an administrator of the Hebrew Academy where Danuta was a student, there are no words to share how proud I am of Danuta and how impressed I was by this excellent program. I think everyone who was there would agree. AK
by Alene Jo Kaufman