Posted on Oct. 29, 2002
Tribute to ‘J.J.’ Greenberg
Local couple honors educator with grant
to Miami’s CAJE
BY DAVID ADDISON
Aryeh Rubin had the opportunity to watch
Jonathan Joseph “J.J.” Greenberg grow up.
“He was a wonderful human being
and was always there as a major force in the background
of things,” said Rubin, of Miami. “His idea
was to reach out to Jewish youth through music, culture
and the arts. He had the best qualities of his mother
and of his father.”
Greenberg was just 36 when he dies in
Israel last month after being struck by a car while
riding his bicycle. He was the executive director of
the New York-based Jewish Life Network, where he helped
develop such landmark programs as Birthright Israel,
the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education,
Synagogue Transformation and Renewal or STAR and the
Jewish Early Childhood Education Partnership. He also
worked with his well-known father, Rabbi Irving “Yitz”
Greenberg on national efforts in conjunction with Hillel
and the Jewish Heritage Program. His mother, Blu, is
an Orthodox feminist leader who wrote the book “How
to Run a Traditional Jewish Household.”
A $10,000 grant given by Rubin and wife,
Raquel, to the Center for the Advancement of Jewish
Education, or CAJE, in Greenberg’s memory will
benefit Jewish education professionals through seminars,
workshops and conferences designed to keep them up to
date on issues of concern in the field. Funds will be
used to bring respected experts from around the country
to conduct seminars for local education professionals.
Representatives from CAJE, a beneficiary of the Greater
Miami Jewish Federation/UJA Campaign, are now working
with the Rubins to determine seminar subjects and speakers.
“This is a very fitting tribute
to a man who dedicated himself to Jewish education during
his lifetime,” said Dr. Chaim Botwinick, CAJE’s
CEO and president.
For Rubin, the effort was a reasonable
one deriving from his long relationship with the Greenbergs.
“Yitz was a mentor to the entire
community during the Vietnam era and I had the chance
to become friends with the entire family,” Rubin
said. “J.J. was a very special young man.”
Rubin praised the Greenbergs for providing
leadership during the tumultuous era of the 1960s and
numerous efforts since.
“Both Yitz and Blu were very important
in my own development,” Rubin said.
The Rubins donated their grant through their Targum
Shlishi (Third Interpretation) Foundation.
“Because J.J. was dedicated to educational
outreach, giving the grant in his memory just seemed
the right thing to do,” Rubin said.
Jacob Solomon, the executive vice president
of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, praised the
Rubins and CAJE for their efforts.
“While it is a tragedy to lose someone
as young, as gifted, and as full of promise as J.J.,
we can take comfort in knowing that, thanks to this
grant in his memory, our teachers and administrators
will be able to enhance their professional skills that
are so important for the well-being and future of our
children,” Solomon said.