Tribute to Ben Cohen and Irving Wishnia

Remembering Daniel (Danny) Greenberg

The Roots and Meaning of Holocaust Denial

An Important Source of American Support for Israel: The Christian Community

The Lindberghs and the Jews

ILO: The Situation of Workers in the Occupied Arab Territories

Book Review: Ideas for an Age of Confusion

LZA Needs Your Vote!



Vol. LXVIII, No. 4

Remembering Daniel (Danny) Greenberg z"l

By Daniel Mann

In the passing this summer of Daniel Greenberg, known to everyone as Danny, the Labor Zionist movement has lost one of its most beloved members and effective leaders. Some idea of this unique personality can be gained from the opening sentences of his obituary in the July 16 edition of the Chicago Tribune:


Daniel N. Greenberg was only 19 when he served as a gunner on a U.S. tank that barreled across Germany during World War II and was nearly destroyed by a bazooka shell. Severely injured, the Chicago native returned home with a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, and a newfound wisdom he used to help others in years to come.

Additional testimony can be found in the eulogy his son Aaron delivered at the funeral:


My father devoted his professional career to trying to ease the suffering of a group of people who are among the most helpless, powerless, and downtrodden in our world, the mentally ill. He was both a therapist and an administrator, eventually becoming the superintendent of the largest state mental facility in Illinois. I walked the wards of his hospital with him once or twice, and it was obvious to me that he felt great respect and affection for the people he was serving, as they did for him. I can attest from personal experience, as I know my sister and brother Ruth and Joe can as well, to his uncanny ability to calm you when you were troubled and help you put your problems in perspective.

Danny Greenberg's roots were to be found in a vibrant Jewish and Labor Zionist home. His father, a Hebrew teacher, was secretary of Branch I of Chicago Poale Zion (a predecessor of the Labor Zionist Alliance), and his mother was a founder of the West Side Pioneer Women (now Na'amat USA). His late sister, Ruth (Kohansky), was a delegate from Chicago to the founding convention of Habonim in 1935 (as recorded by Ben Cohen in the foreword to Builders and Dreamers). At Danny's funeral, his other sister, Jennie Gordon, recalled the following:


Danny, our sister Ruthie, and I grew up in a home that was always filled with a great deal of love, warmth, and laughter. My father had a great sense of humor, which Danny inherited, and my mother could always come up with some choice sayings which would make us smile. It was a home with a great deal of music, mostly operatic arias and "chazonish" (cantorial) music, which was played on a Victrola which had to be wound by hand.

At the center of Danny's life for almost a halfcentury was his wife, Chaikey. I was a college student and a Habonim leader in Chicago when they got married, on an evening coinciding with a public meeting sponsored by the Poale Zion Party in support of the candidacy ofAdlai Stevenson for president. I recall the chair of the program apologizing to the then young Jewish Congressman, Sidney Yates, for the small attendance "because of the marriage of two prominent families of our movement." It sounded like the Cabots and the Lodges, but it was actually the Greenbergs and the Pomerantzes.

Chaikey was a full partner with Danny not only in the raising of their children but also in their many movement and other communal endeavors, and these worlds coincided when their children went to Habonim camp and one of them, Joe. to the Habonim Workshop in Israel. All of this and more was reflected in the eulogy delivered by Danny's longtirne friend, Ben Sosewitz, who likewise has served in a range of leadership roles in Labor Zionism and elsewhere, most notably as a recent national president of the American Society for Technion. After recalling their shared childhood and teen years, all connected to the movement because of the influence of their parents and siblings, Ben stated the following:

Danny came home from the war with a broken body. He started a long arduous road to recovery, which he accomplished with reasonable success but not without a lot of difficulty. He was able to continue his education, and later, with Chaikey at his side, to reach professional status at the University of Chicago. He and Chaikey established a family life and Danny achieved a noteworthy career. He loved all kinds of music, the Chicago Cubs, a hot dog with all the works, and once in a while a vodka on the rocks. How unfair it seems that a lifetime of struggle, achievement, contentment, and gratification are described in a few short sentences.

But perhaps, as we look around and take note of those who came here to honor Danny's life, we have a better sense of what that life was all about. Danny reveled in his life as husband, parent, and grandparent. Throughout his life he was a leader, quiet, thoughtful, and modest. Those in his company valued his views and opinions. Much of his energy, outside of family and work, was dedicated to the Labor Zionist movement. Later, he included responsibilities in YIVO because of his love for and interest in the perpetuation of the Yiddish language and its culture. He also became involved in the Chicago Jewish Historical Society in order to assure the retention of our rich local Jewish communal history. Throughout, he never let up in his devotion to the youth of Habonim and their programs. He, together, with Chaikey, were to be honored in August for their lifelong commitment to the Labor Zionist family and its work. He also talked about continuing to help plan additional reunions of his Manley High School classmates, and was planning his regular trek to his summer home, where he shared so much with children, grandchildren, and friends.

Only a few months ago, Danny was getting ready to make his regular two-month visit with Chaikey to the Israel he loved, and to which he gave so much, there to visit with family and a wide circle of friends. Danny surfed the Internet regularly, focusing on the Israeli press and the sense it portrayed of the mood and frustrations of the Israeli public both during the peace process and after its collapse. He voiced his own frustrations because he believed in the need for arriving at a peaceful conclusion of the conflict. Danny was not ready to quit. He was active, responsible, vibrant, understanding, and vital until illness struck him down.

To these excerpts from Ben Sosewitz's moving eulogy, allow me to add some personal notes of my own. Though Danny Greenberg and I were several years apart, we shared a background in Habonim in the Midwest, and later, many overlapping tasks and positions in Poale Zion and then LZA. But it was during the past decade that we became particularly close. Our association began with the effort to publish Builders and Dreamers and to provide the seed money for what has now blossomed into a major agency of the movement, the Habonim Dror Foundation. There followed seven years of collaboration in the national, regional, and local work of the Labor Zionist Alliance.

When I became national president, Danny offered to be my agent, my advocate, even my spy (his words) — anything I would ask of him just so he didn't have to attend meetings. Of course that was too high a price for LZA to pay for his leadership, so both Chaikey and he faithfully attended national meetings in New York and elsewhere, and Elaine and I always enjoyed their visits to Washington.

But our most memorable — and productive — contacts were our many phone calls (I called them our Shabbes shmoozes) in which we would catch up on so many topics of mutual interest — families and friends, the movement, Jewish cultural activities and communal history, our congregations — until Danny would say "uh-oh," knowing that I had yet another request of him, often in the form of some kind of very informal, discreet, and behindthe-scenes intercession to get some program or project started or back on track. The same kind of personal engagement would take place around the dining-room table the many times I stayed at the Greenberg home in Chicago. And we'd compare notes regularly on our respective trips to Israel, though there Danny got his wish: He and Chaikey managed to get there annually, as Ben Sosewitz noted, but without having to attend meetings.

The obituary in the Tribvne said that Danny's "offbeat sense of humor balanced a more serious side of his personality that came from the harsh lessons of war." And Aaron spoke of his father's "sharper, more idiosyncratic side. He was a master of sarcasm and loved dirty jokes. He created a complex hierarchy of insulting names to call people who deserved it (though never to their faces), most of those terms involving various Yiddish names for certain parts of the body." I was witness to this capacity in more public settings. At most meetings in Chicago, all the veteran members had known Danny since birth, and he in turn knew all the younger people since their birth (or their arrival in the community). He had a way of listening quietly through a long discussion and then generating the desired conclusion by saying simply, "Do we have a choice?" Sometimes he would sit on the sidelines and gently tease or almost (but not quite) insult everyone there. Not only did he get away with that, but once again the result was the right decision.

It would have been my privilege to address the tribute to Danny and Chaikey that Ben Sosewitz mentioned, and Elaine was looking forward to joining the festivities. Instead, we now mourn Danny's passing, but his memory is a multiple blessing: the glow of the memories themselves; the remarkable relationship of Chaikey and Danny and of both of them with their family and friends; the long list of activities and responsibilities that he carried out so skillfully, some of which will now be further enhanced by a fund in his name; and the knowledge that we will honor his memory by continuing to advance his commitments. May we do so with the heart, the hope, the humor, and the humanity that pervaded and indeed personified Daniel Greenberg's full and special life.

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