Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Congratulations, Rabbi Micah Greenland

The Greenlands
I remember when I first met him. He was a senior at Fasman Yeshiva high School (HTC) and was serving on the youth national board as President of NCSY. It was my first ever NCSY’s experience, The Annual Winter Conclave. During that weekend, then Midwest Regional Director, Rabbi A.Y. Weinberg,  had hired me to video some of the events over the weekend. I remember being instantly and incredibly amazed and inspired by what I saw going on over the entire weekend.

Conclave, as it is called in the Midwest, is one of Midwest NCSY's 4 premiere annual events and almost always held during the weekend of Christmas.  But Christmas was hardly the theme of the weekend. Here we had a group of American Jewish teenagers of limited to no background from non observant homes celebrating their Judaism by observing Shabbos, Kashrus, and studying Torah subjects... all while having a ‘blast’! Most of these teens were in public high schools. And yet here they all were inspired to get in touch with and express their Judaism.

Of course not all the NCSYers were from non-observant homes. Many of them were already observant , as was my future son in law. I remember noticing him right away as a leader with a maturity well beyond his 17 years.  I thought, ‘Wow!’ ‘What a fine young man with a bright future ahead of him, and what a great organization for my own daughters to one day become involved as advisers. I came home from the Shabbaton and strongly encouraged them to do so.

The following year after graduating high school, Micah pursued a year of learning in Yeshivas Kerem B'Yavneh. It was that same year that my 2 oldest daughters who had returned from of seminary. They were pursuing their studies in college, had indeed decided to become Midwest Regional advisers. I knew that they both had the ability to inspire Jewish teenagers by answering their questions and making sure that they would have a enjoyable experience. They agreed. It was an incredible year of mentorship for both of them.

The following year, Micah returned to the United States to pursue his degree at Yeshivas Rabbenu Yitzchak Elchanan (YU). He also renewed his interest in NCSY to become a Midwest Regional advisor. It was there and then that he met my oldest daughter, Rivkie. 

Along with the other advisers and staff, they all worked towards the same goal of inspiring Jewish youth to become closer to yiddishkeit. It was also there that they developed a friendship and mutual respect toward one another. A year later, a mutual friend of theirs asked Micah if he would be interested in dating Rivkie. He was. Long story short -they have now been happily married for 15 years and have continued their pursuit to inspire Jewish teenagers ever since.

Rivkie and Micah lived on the YU campus for three years until Micah received Semicha. Shortly thereafter, he was offered the position of Midwest Regional Director of NCSY – which he accepted and has spent the last 12 years developing his skills and talents to make Midwest regional one of the most successful regions in the country.  

That success did not go unnoticed. When Rabbi Steven Burg, Micha's predecessor stepped down in January last year, Micah  was asked to step in as in the interim international Director. Now one year later the word interim has been removed and he has officially been named International Director of NCSY. Micah, or Rabbi Greenland - as he is known professionally - intends to execute his duties while remaining with his family in Chicago, which of course, we, his family are grateful for. The intention is to commute to other regions as well as the national office in New York as necessary.

NCSY’s National Youth Commission chose wisely.  I should also add that Micah would be the first one to say that behind every successful man, there is a great woman. In this case it is his wife, my daughter, Rivkie. I would certainly not disagree with that.

I want to publicly congratulate my son in law, Micah and wish him much success in his new leadership role… and to thank him for not moving to New York. We look forward to hearing even greater things from him and NCSY.

For more on this story see Baltimore Jewish Life.