Nominated and written by Ari Schochet, NCSY Alumnus
I get choked up even writing this! To those that knew him, J.J. Greenberg was the face of Jewish Pride throughout the country. He was a national advisor who travelled across the country every single weekend to spend Shabbos with NCSYers from all walks of life. When J.J. entered a room, you knew that the event would be a success because he was a model of how you could be a Torah Observant Jew and still stay ‘cool’.
When I was National President coming from public school, I was lucky to be able to tag along in his shadow. Not only wouldn’t I end up in some random city not knowing anyone, but I knew that J.J. would help to make the weekend special and meaningful. He would always find a group to envelop and we always left the weekend feeling that we had made a difference in bringing Yiddishkeit to someone that hadn’t had that experience before. He was my role model in how to act and behave as a Jew balancing between our different worlds.
For J.J., the role of an advisor didn’t stop on Sunday night, he felt a true responsibility for those of us that he took under his wing whose numbers are in the hundreds if not more. I remember the last time I saw him, he showed up unannounced at my College dorm in Boston. It was a full year after I had left NCSY, but he had to make sure that I was still staying true to the path–his job wasn’t complete and I’m sure had he not left us so young, he would still be checking up on me twenty years later.