"You hear so much from autism organizations about what a horrible disease this is and how the parents have been robbed of their children, yada, yada, yada, and I suppose on a certain level that is true," Jacob told me, typing the words on a special keyboard that allows him to fully express his ideas. "But I refuse to live the rest of my life believing I am a defective human being. I have gifts and talents and challenges just like everyone else, and I have the same desire for connection and a need to be treated with dignity and respect."
"Not eating is not suffering," he said, "it's elevating ourselves to a state of transcendence. The fast, on Yom Kippur, reminds us how little material we really need; that we can do with less meat, with less bread, with less of everything."
We have more synagogues and more freedom to use them here in Los Angeles than we did in Iran, but that doesn't mean we're any closer to fulfilling the true purpose of gathering in a house of worship.
What is it that allowed this family to stay whole and renew the life in themselves when fate, or God, or a violent man, dealt them unimaginable grief? In this season of renewal and introspection, of fate and faith, what can others facing obstacles of any degree learn from this family's remarkable ability to transcend the unthinkable?