JJ Greenberg Memorial Award Essay: Atar Razy-Oren

JJ Greenberg Memorial Award Essays
Atar Razy-Oren2012 recipient

Because we are all, yes we are all
We are all one living human tissue.
And if one of us,
Is going away from us,
Something dies in us,
And something, stays with him.

Lyrics: Moti Hamer

Unlike many other recipients of the JJ Greenberg Memorial Award, I didn’t have the privilege of personally knowing JJ. I learned about this remarkable young man only from conversations with my peers.

I also spoke with his father, his sister and her family. They told me about JJ, the young gifted and dedicated professional and, of course, JJ the family man. His father, Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, shared with me how JJ’s leadership role in the Jewish community was derived directly from his family legacy and ardent devotion to Judaism. As an Israeli, a whole different world was opened to me. Nevertheless, it was familiar. We are all one living human tissue.

Since I received the award, I have been advising dozens of Israeli social investors, philanthropic initiatives and social enterprises, which aim to create a more equal, just and healthy Israeli society. The story of JJ and his family’s legacy follows me wherever I go. It is a part of being one human tissue.

JJ had the capacity to move effortlessly through several different circles – the nuclear and extended family, his many friends, working professionals, grantees, and philanthropic partners, both in the U.S. and in Israel. It is all a part of being one human tissue.

JJ’s ability to create so many circles of influence that have touched so many people amazed me then, as it still does today. I think about JJ every Friday, when my three kids, my husband and I light the Shabbat candles using the candle holders I received as part of the Award. JJ’s name is engraved on them. It is all a part of being one human tissue.

After five years as the Director of the Philanthropy Center at Sheatufim, I decided to leave this meaningful organization and look for a new career path. I embarked on my new journey by carrying a compass wherever I go. Among the many stories I have heard about JJ, I learned that JJ was always carrying a compass with him. It was one that contained his family narrative, the values learned from his parents, Yitz and Blu, the extended family and his community. It is all a part of being one human tissue.

In my life, I also try to walk in the light of this special compass. It guides me whenever I’m in the middle of a meaningful crossroad, when big decisions need to be taken, in daily interactions, in all kinds of tasks and relationships, as a working professional, as a board member of social organizations, as a social activist, as a woman, daughter, wife and mother. Because we are all one living human tissue.

From a series of essays by past recipients of the JJ Greenberg Memorial Award.