(Nashville, TN--August 3, 2006) – Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, conferred its highest honor, the Henrietta Szold Award, on Rabbi Irving Greenberg and his wife, Blu Greenberg, each in recognition of their outstanding leadership in the Jewish community. The rabbi is the president of Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation (JLN) as well as a well-known author and lecturer; Blu Greenberg is an accomplished author and lecturer who is active in Jewish feminist issues.
The prestigious award was presented recently at the gala banquet of Hadassah’s 92nd annual convention, in Nashville, Tennessee, by past National President Debbie Kaplan (1991-1995). The Honorable Bill Purcell, Mayor of Nashville, who recently visited the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, welcomed the audience to his city.
Since its establishment in 1949, the humanitarian award has honored individuals who represent the ideals and beliefs of Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah. The recipient has traditionally been a world leader or a prominent figure in a variety of fields. The first recipient of the Henrietta Szold Award was Eleanor Roosevelt. Over the years, statesmen, elected officials, and other humanitarians have received the award, including Elie Wiesel, George Schultz, and Golda Meir. In 1995, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres were the dual recipients. The nominating committee for the Szold Award is comprised of past national presidents, chaired by Bonnie Lipton (1999-2003).
In accepting the award, Blu Greenberg told the audience of her admiration for Hadassah and its role in her family’s lives. Four years ago, when the Greenbergs lost their beloved son, JJ, in an Israeli bicycle accident, they donated his organs at Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem. One of the recipients was an Arab father of seven. “Hadassah medicine has a total blindness to race, color and national origin,” she said. She then implored the audience to keep doing what it has done for the past 94 years, “while continuing to heal, strengthen and propagate a love for the Jewish state,” she said.
Blu Greenberg has been a quintessential player in the movement to bridge feminism and Orthodox Judaism. Her books include On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition, How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household, Black Bread: Poems After the Holocaust and King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. She serves on the editorial board of Hadassah Magazine and on the advisory boards of Lilith magazine and the Jewish Student Press Service.
She is the founding president of JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, and chaired the first and second International Conferences on Feminism and Orthodoxy, in 1997 and 1998. Blu is on the boards of numerous organizations like EDAH, the Covenant, Project Kesher, and the Foundation for Christian Rescuers. She is the current chair of the Petschek National Jewish Family Center, and a former president of the Jewish Book Council of America. She has participated in many interfaith and inter-ethnic enterprises and was co-founder of the Dialogue Group of Jewish and Palestinian women.
Rabbi Greenberg’s organization, JLN, aims to create new institutions and initiatives to enrich the religious, cultural, and institutional life of American Jewry. Alongside his JLN partner Michael Steinhardt, the rabbi has played an integral role in the development of birthright Israel, the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, and the Makor Center of the 92nd Street Y.
An ordained Orthodox rabbi and a Harvard Ph.D, Rabbi Greenberg has been a seminal thinker in confronting the Holocaust as a transforming historical event and in viewing Israel as the Jewish assumption of power and the beginning of a third era in Jewish history. Some of his published works include the books Living in the Image of God: Jewish Teachings to Perfect the World and For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter between Judaism and Christianity.
From 1974 to 1997, Rabbi Greenberg served as the president of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a pioneering organization in the development of Jewish leadership and intra-Jewish dialogue. Prior to founding CLAL, Greenberg served as the rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center, an associate professor of history at Yeshiva University, and as founder, chairman and professor in the department of Jewish Studies of the City College of the City University of New York.
The banquet took place within the framework of Hadassah’s three-day national convention, attended by more than 2,000 delegates. The annual gathering serves as a forum to examine the most important issues on the organization’s agenda.