Just over a week from now, the Savannah Jewish Federation will fete Joel Greenberg with the highest honor our community has, the Jack Malitz Levy Leadership Award.
The Levy Leadership Award was created by the Governors of the Savannah Jewish Federation in 1988 to honor Jack Levy’s memory and deemed it to be the absolute highest community leadership award given by the Federation.
In establishing the criteria for this award, the Federation took a long look at the person this award was named for and the high standards that Jack Levy set. It was understood that a recipient would not be selected every year because it was unlikely that there would be deserving candidates like Jack Levy. And to demonstrate the significance being attributed to this honor, the Board stipulated that a unanimous vote of the committee (past winners and the Presidents of the Federation and JEA) is necessary to select a recipient and created the following criteria:
- The Levy Award is the highest honor to be bestowed on a Jewish community leader;
- Reflects long time active Jewish community leadership as exhibited by Jack Levy;
- Civic, club, congregational and general Jewish community leadership valued, but not as highly as active Jewish community leadership;
- The decision of the committee must be unanimous.
I really got to know the essence of Joel Greenberg before I ever came to Savannah. It was the summer of 2007. I had accepted the position of Executive Director but had yet to sign an agreement with the leadership of the JEA and Federation. I received a call from Joel who told me he was on his way to Maine and he and Carol would like to make a short change in their travels to stop by my house to personally deliver the contract.
And Joel Greenberg has delivered ever since.
Over the years, Joel has been the President of the JEA, Shalom School, Federation and Mickve Israel. He has chaired innumerable committees, initiatives and campaigns in the Jewish and general communities. He and Carol are lifelong learners and are proud that they are members and supporters of all of the synagogues.
I have grown to understand that Joel thinks and speaks at a from a very different place from me. Often, at a Board meeting, Joel would make a quip that would be met with silence and then slowly, over a few seconds, many around the table would begin to laugh. Joel’s humor is quick, biting, and high level. For most of us, it takes awhile to catch on and to catch up with Joel. Perhaps it was his educational background. Afterall, Princeton and Duke are not chopped liver. Or maybe it was Joel’s intimate knowledge of the brain and how it works. Either way, he typically thinks at a different pace than most of us.
Joel is being honored for a lifetime commitment to and leadership of the Jewish community. It is a well-deserved honor.
Kol HaKavod, Joel
Shabbat Shalom & Happy Mothers Day,