Shep Englander — Federation Journal
Gary Greenberg on Community Priorities and Growing Up in Jewish Cincinnati
New Federation President Gary Greenberg spoke so eloquently at the Annual Meeting about growing up and raising a family in Jewish Cincinnati and meeting the challenges of the community. Below are his comments from the event. Congratulations to Gary and thank you to outgoing President Tedd Friedman for his vision and leadership. —Shep
I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve as President of OUR Jewish Federation.
I emphasize “our” because this Federation belongs to all of us: volunteers, donors, agencies, synagogues, day schools—the entire Jewish community of Greater Cincinnati.
I had the good fortune to grow up in the vibrant Cincinnati Jewish community of the 1960s.
My boyhood here was quintessentially Jewish-American: public schooling at Losantiville Elementary and Walnut Hills High, Class of 71, Wise Temple Sunday School, a year of Torah and Talmud with HUC student Lawrence Kushner to prepare my Bar Mitzvah, and a rock & roll party to celebrate my “manhood,” basketball and swimming at the old Roselawn Jewish Community Center, Saturday night at the movies with James Bond, sled riding at Gibson Greeting Cards in Amberley. And I was fully educated on why some of our Amberley neighbors had numbers tattooed on their arms.
I went away to College and Law School, in Pennsylvania and Michigan, but always hoped to return here to raise my family.
And I was lucky enough to meet and marry my life partner Linda, who wanted the same thing. Here we are, a “few” years later, with the good fortune of having our two sons, daughter-in-law and grandson living nearby.
As we say on Pesach, “It would have been enough.” But now I have been given this opportunity to serve and give back to the Jewish community that has given so much to me.
Tonight we heard from you. About what is important to you and your family.
- We must ensure that our elderly population, especially those with limited means, age with dignity and remain connected to their Jewish community, values, and traditions. To that end, we have convened the Aging 2.0 Task Force with representatives of all the stakeholders to understand the needs, the gaps in meeting those needs and best practices for closing those gaps. I am confident that our community will provide the care and respect for all of our elderly that we would want for ourselves.
- Israel will remain an integral part of our agenda. Israel and American Jewry may at times have differences but we are family, Am Yisrael, and we need each other to reach our full potential. One goal I hope to achieve during my term is to finalize arrangements for Cincinnati and Netanya to be Sister Cities; this has been pending for far too long.
- We must be welcoming and inclusive. Individuals with physical and developmental disabilities should have the opportunity to participate fully and with ease in our community. This requires allocation of resources and effective accommodations. It also requires a culture of acceptance. In addition, we want to create a community that’s inclusive to the growing number of interfaith couples and families who are part of Jewish Cincinnati.
We will succeed in meeting these and the many other challenges facing us in the years ahead if we continue to listen to each other with sincere hearts and open minds, as we did tonight.
Our differences will remain, but we will stand on common ground. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Psalm 133.
Finally, but not least, I want to thank Linda, the love of my life, as I would not be fit to serve you if not for the work she has done over the years to civilize me.
Thank you, Linda. And thanks to all of you for being here tonight and all you do for our community.
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