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by Rhonda Spivak May 23, 2017

Note: Please see companion article to this regarding the  proceeds to the Jewish National Fund`s Negev Gala honouring Rabbi Green, which are going to the World`s Jewish Museum in Tel-Aviv, the braincild of the Asper Foundation.


In an interview with the Winnipeg Jewish review Rabbi Green, who is this year`s honouree for the JNF Negev Gala and who  is set to retire as the Rabbi of Shaarey Zedek Synagogue in about a year’s time, reflected on his 26 years in Winnipeg. “I have participated in the burial of an entire generation” he said.


Green says that our Jewish community is “much less traditional and not as strongly identified ethnically and culturally as it once was.” In that sense, there are grounds for pessimism in regard to our future. However Green perceives “great strength in this community.” He therefore sees grounds for optimism. “I see many young interfaith families who are willing to go on raising their children as Jews” but he also believes their “kind of Judaism will be different.” He notes that  “Shaarey Zedek Synagogue is now evolving to serve their spiritual needs.”


Rabbi Green also anticipates that when it comes to synagogues “the membership model may be passing into history.” He believes that the next generation will not be taking out membership in Synagogues but that their connection to Synagogues will be “more event based,” in that they will still want to mark life cycle events.


He also believes that financial imperatives will require a “consolidation” in that several congregations will need to share one building.


When asked about a possible future merger between the congregations of Shaarey Zedek and Etz Chayim, Rabbi Green responded “it wasn’t time for a merger yet. Economics aren’t directing us to do it yet. But I believe that economics will dictate this eventual outcome.” When asked how long he thought it would be before this eventual outcome was dictated Rabbi Green responded “ten to twenty years.”


Rabbi Green also foresees that a merger of these synagogues will eventually mean that they are relocated near the Asper Campus since the pulse of the Jewish community is at the Asper Campus. He foresees that there will still be a need for an orthodox synagogue in this city as well as a reform synagogue but “I could imagine them functioning together in the same building.”


In regard to the number of Jews in North America in general  and our community in particular, Rabbi Green is of the view that “we are probably going to see some shrinkage but those Jews who are left will be stronger and will eventually grow again. He noted for example that in the time of Rashi “1040-1105 CE” there were only one million Jews but the Jewish people grew again.


Rabbi Green also believes that interfaith marriage “will ultimately expand the Jewish people.” And he noted that some non-Jewish spouses convert, and even here they don't some will choose to raise their children Jewish.


In the interview Rabbi Green stated that he will be overjoyed to work with Matthew Leibl, Annibal Mass and Rena Elbaze, in the upcoming months to provide for the spiritual needs of the Shaarey Zedek family. "I have a joyful. light feeling going into the next year." 


He added that “I hope that maybe I will be able to come back to Shaarey Zedek Synagogue 1 to 2 months every year.” (provided this is financially viable, of course).


 Rabbi Green, who originates from Los Angeles and who received his smicha from the late Rabbi Zalman Schacter spoke of the significance of the number 26 (he is now in his 26 year in Wpg ) in “gematria (the numerological equivalent for the Hebrew letters) 26 is the name of G-d (which can not be said)In addition he cited the fact that he’d been a Rabbi for 31 years altogether which is  and the gematria for “El”-the name of G-d.


 Under Rabbi Green’s tenure, Sharrey Zedek began performing gay marriages and also added a wing to its cemetery where non-Jewish spouses of Synagogue members can be buried. While Green does not officiate at interfaith marriages, Matthew Leibl (who is training to be a Rabbi) does. “Young people today feel that they can marry a non-Jew and it doesn’t compromise their Jewish identity. We can’t ignore this. We must find a way to service their spiritual needs and Shaarey Zedek is doing this,” Green said. 


Uri Kraut, past President of Shaarey Zedek says of Rabbi Green: "Rabbi Green has over the past several years been a strong promoter of change at our shul and for the Jewish community. He showed me that some changes are best done slowly and others quickly. He was critical in our recent changes to our prayer services, same sex marriage recognition and our interfaith cemetary -truly impressive and visionary when compared to many of our synagogue peers down south. He was an advocate of the merger [with Etz  Chayim] and move idea which wasn't ready to happen yet, but as mentione above some changes are fast and some are slow...and some are very slow!


When he retires as Rabbi of Shaarey Zedek , Rabbi Green and his wife Chaya will be moving to Fairfield, Iowa, which is the world centre for Transcendental Meditation, founded by Maharishi Yogi.   

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.