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Mr. Get It Done

Barbara Bensoussan

He founded Camp Sternberg. He dealt with teens-at-risk years before it became a term. He was a cloak-and-dagger negotiator who freed political prisoners. From the jungles of Mozambique to the corridors of the White House, Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald lived in dozens of spheres and presided over hundreds of causes. Who could believe he’d leave this world so suddenly?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Nobody was prepared last Wednesday for the news that Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald had suddenly left This World, apparently in his sleep in the sort of misas neshikah we’re told is reserved for the tzaddikim. At 82 years old and still involved with the no-holds-barred community work that made him so beloved and respected over the years, he left not only his family but all ofKlalYisrael orphaned and deeply bereaved. “He was a human dynamo,” grieves lawyer and activistAlanDershowitz, who knew him from his early years in Boro Park. “It is impossible to imagine him at rest.” With his thick Brooklyn accent and trademark suspenders, he was a big man who exuded a warm, fatherly presence; between his size and relaxed, nonjudgmental manner, people instantly felt secure and at ease around him. But he was also a man of razor-sharp wit and nerves of steel — fearless in the face of danger and driven to do what had to be done, knowing that every committee he chaired, every campaign he initiated, every risky negotiation was in the service of G-d and the Jewish People. Talk to the over 40,000 alumni of Camps Mogen Av andSternberg and they’ll tell you about the man who made their summers possible. Talk to “his girls” who attended the Monsey Academy for Girls, whichRabbiGreenwald founded to help at-risk teen girls navigate their way back into life, or the dozens of individuals he personally saved from imprisonment and peril, and they’ll tell you about the man whose heart was big enough to care for every single Jew. He was as comfortable in the camp dining room as he was in the Oval Office or the headquarters of the KGB. In short, he was larger than life.  

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