Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg serves as the President of the J.J. Greenberg Institute for the Advancement of Jewish Life (JJGI) and as Senior Scholar in Residence at Hadar. Rabbi Greenberg was ordained by Beth Joseph Rabbinical Seminary of Brooklyn, New York and has a PhD in history from Harvard University. He has had a long and notable career in the service of the Jewish people. He served in the rabbinate, notably at the Riverdale Jewish Center in the 1960s. He served as professor and chairman of the Department of Jewish Studies of City College of the City University of New York in the 1970s. Together with Elie Wiesel, he founded CLAL: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and served as its president until 1997.CLAL offered pluralistic Jewish learning for Jewish communal leadership and programs of intra-faith dialogue for rabbis of every denominational background. From 1997 to 2008, he served as founding president of Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation which created such programs as birthright Israel and the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education.
Rabbi Greenberg was one of the activist/founders of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry in the movement to liberate Russian Jewry. He was a pioneer in the development of Holocaust education and commemoration. When Elie Wiesel served as chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, Rabbi Greenberg served as its (Executive) Director. The Commission recommended and drew the blueprint for the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on the National Mall in Washington. He served as the Museum’s chairman from 2000-2002.
He is a leading Jewish thinker and has written extensively on post-Holocaust Jewish religious thought, Jewish-Christian relations, pluralism, and the ethics of Jewish power. In his book, Interpreters of Judaism in the Late Twentieth Century, Professor Steven T. Katz wrote: “No Jewish thinker has had a greater impact on the American Jewish Community in the last two decades than Irving (Yitz) Greenberg.” In his new book, The Triumph of Life (forthcoming), he argues that the Holocaust and the Jewish assumption of power in creating the state of Israel are the beginning of a new era in Jewish history. Together, these two events usher in a third stage of Jewish religion.