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Rabbi Alan Green

Farewell to Rabbi Alan Green-We will Miss You

by Rhonda Spivak, May 4, 2018

After 27 years as Senior Rabbi at Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Rabbi Alan Green began a new journey when his Sabbatical started in April and when he will move to Fairfield, Iowa at the end of July.


Rabbi Green says he is feeling exhilarated. “It’s a feeling of freedom that I am leaving the synagogue in good hands, that I am leaving the synagogue at a high point,” declares the Rabbi who originates from Los Angeles.


Rabbi Green is moving to a small city in the south west corner of Iowa which is the world centre for Transcendental Meditation founded by Maharishi Yogi. It has a population of 10,000 where 2,000 are practitioners of Transcendental Meditation (TM). About 10% (approximately 200) of the meditating population is Jewish (which is a very high percentage!).


“My wife Chaya is a teacher of TM and I have been practising for many, many years since I was 17,” states Rabbi Green who was last year’s JNF Gala Honouree.


When asked about the highlights of his time at Shaarey Zedek, Rabbi Green said that they related to changes that occurred including “when we instituted the interfaith cemetery, when we started to perform same sex marriages and the changes that we’ve made to our Shabbat and High Holiday services where we have shortened them by a full hour.”


“We have revamped them completely with much more explanation, much more interaction and much more understanding on the part of the congregation. And the congregations’ response has been tremendous. That is my happiest moment right there.”


When asked about the challenges he faced during his time at Shaarey Zedek, Rabbi Green answered, “My greatest challenge has been maintaining my stamina. I was flat out for so many years doing everything that needed to be done and physically and emotionally it was very challenging. My tendency was to work myself to the point of almost an emotional … breakdown. I didn’t get there, but I came close a couple of times.”


In an earlier interview about a year ago, the Winnipeg Jewish Review asked Rabbi Green about a potential merger between Shaarey Zedek and Etz Chayim Synagogues. He answered, “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.”


A year ago, the Winnipeg Jewish Review asked Rabbi Green about the state of our community in particular and North American Jewry in general. He replied 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.”


When asked a year ago about the number of Jews in North America in general  and our community in particular, Rabbi Green maintained that “we are probably going to see some shrinkage but those Jews who are left will be stronger and will eventually grow again.”


Rabbi Green’s plans for the future include studying, teaching Judaism, writing and counselling.


“I have at least one book in me, maybe more. I want to explore the interface between meditation and Judaism because there is a big disconnect there. Mainly, it’s a cultural disconnect. It has been one of the disappointments of my rabbinate that I have not been able to integrate the two more than I have,” explains Rabbi Green.


“There is also the possibility that I could work for the local University as a chaplain and have the opportunity to counsel students, faculty and staff.”


I am not necessarily looking forward to leaving Winnipeg, but I am looking forward to this next phase of my life.”


Rabbi Green encourages people to reach out to him now and in the future at [email protected].

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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.