Inspiration during the Ten Days of Repentance

Sponsored by Vicky Wu in Memory of JJ Greenberg zíl. The 8th of Tishrei marks 10 years since JJís passing. Memories of JJ continue to provide strength and hope to many of us because of his true love for life, Israel and the Jewish people.


During the Aseret Yemei Tshuva, the ten days of repentance between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, we look for inspiration. Some are inspired by a spiritual prayer service, others may be uplifted by a shiur or a lecture and others by a book.


In my mind, there is nothing as uplifting as a role model who inspires us simply by who they are. JJ Greenberg was this type of inspirational role model who still serves as an inspiration, ten years after he was tragically killed in a bicycle accident in Israel at the age of 36.


I remember attending Yeshiva Universityís Sophomore Seminar when I was 15 years old. JJ was one of the leaders of the program. The students were comfortable talking to JJ about religious challenges that they were facing. JJ put on funny skits and presentations over the course of the program and made religion seem ďfunĒ to thousands of high school sophomores who may have otherwise felt disconnected.


Eight years ago, I attended a memorial service for JJ in Jerusalem. The most inspiring part of the evening was when the people who received JJís organís stood up to thank the family.


In tribute to JJís inspiration, I asked a few people who felt close to JJ to say a few words about how JJ is still impacting their lives.


Lenny Solomon:


JJ Greenberg was a very close friend of mine. He was an inner circle band member of Shlock Rock, having performed on Yo Yo Yo Yarmulke and many other Shlock Rock songs.

What made him special was that his only agenda was to make people happy.  There was never any manipulation for his own personal gain.  He just wanted me to be happy and Klal Yisrael as well.


It was an honor to know him and be his friend.


Jules Polenetsky:


Ten years later, so much of JJ's influence continues to affect life, from the large projects to the small things that were just "his way". Just this Rosh Hashana, as I put on my greeter name tag in shul and looked around to see who I didnít know, I thought of JJ and how he would find someone new and immediately be able to make them feel like they were the most interesting person in the room. 10 years later, JJ's essence continues to shape the way so many of us live our lives in a way that reminds us to care about each other.


Rabbi Josh Feigelson:


JJ will always be in my memory for his smile, his energy, his genuine interest in and ability to connect with almost anybody. As much as JJ accomplished in his too-short life, the way we have remembered JJ since has enabled him to continue to inspire and transform lives. There's a notion in nature of the taproot--the tree that goes down in the woods, and in going down, and providing the home for new life, creates even more life than it did while it was standing. I like to think of JJ as a taproot. I know his memory has definitely been a blessing.


Vicky Wu:


I used to think of JJ often, thinking what he would have done under certain circumstances, what he would have said or not said about certain things, not just about Judaism, but maybe also about a movie, about a match in the Olympic games. It has been 10 years and in some ways time seems to have stopped since he left us.


I am not afraid of forgetting him, because I need him always. When facing difficult times, when feeling frustrated about the world, the society, about anything, I think of him. I just miss the beauty of his passion: his love for Jews and all people, his love for Israel, his love for Judaism, and his love for life.


KTF - Keep The Faith, is what I need.


As Yom Kippur approaches, letís try to focus on how much JJ has done to change the world in his short life and use JJís achievements as an inspiration for what we too can set out to accomplish.


Shabbat Shalom and Gmar Chatima Tova from Yerushalayim!

Sharona Margolin Halickman