Jewish Journal


February 3, 2000

Rabbi To Head Holocaust Museum


Rabbi Irving Greenberg, an influential scholar and religious leader, is about to take another national position.

President Clinton is expected to appoint Greenberg to head the voluntary council overseeing operations at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, according to White House sources.

A longtime council member, Greenberg is an Orthodox rabbi best known in the Jewish community for his writings on the Holocaust and his leadership at two organizations that promote Jewish pluralism and learning: the Jewish Life Network and National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL).

Reached by phone at his home in Riverdale, N.Y., Greenberg said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on the expected appointment at this point, but added, "For anybody, it would be an honor and privilege" to be named to such a position.

"This is an extraordinary institution and it obviously has accomplished a certain standing in American life," said Greenberg.

The 66-year-old Greenberg would replace Miles Lerman, who -- saying the organization needed "young blood" -- recently resigned after six years as chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.

Greenberg is not a survivor himself, but said the Holocaust has played a large role in his thinking. He is the author of "Clouds of Smoke, Pillars of Fire" as well as other writings on the theological implications of the Holocaust.

Like other American Jews, he lost members of his family who had remained in Europe.

The fact that the museum attracts such a large number of non-Jews is a tribute to the "wisdom" of the American people, said Greenberg.

"This is not just a Jewish experience, but about the challenges of modernity and the dangers of power," he said. "The whole American people senses they have to learn these lessons to prevent pathologies from destroying a culture.''

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