Sports radio personality Mike Greenberg entertained some 350 supporters of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ at the annual “Live from Greater MetroWest” fund-raiser, held March 6 at the Hilton in Parsippany.
The host of ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning emphasized the importance of remembering one’s origins and keeping those less fortunate in mind.
The event raised $155,000 for the campaign, to provide humanitarian aid to an array of beneficiaries, including families in crisis, seniors and individuals with special needs, the unemployed, and elderly and vulnerable Jews in Ukraine.
“Any time I can be a part of the community — obviously these foundations do so much good work in so many different places here and all over the world — that if I can be a small part of that I’d be thrilled to be able to do it,” Greenberg said in an interview before the event.
Greenberg grew up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. All four of his grandparents were Polish immigrants and spoke Yiddish at home. Their influence — and language — permeates his on-air personality.
“I’m not a particularly religious person but my connection to Jewish-ness is stronger than my connection to Judaism,” he said. “I’m very culturally Jewish. I use Yiddish words on the radio all the time…. That’s just part of who I am.”
Wherever they are from, said Greenberg, Jews share a unique bond.
“I don’t have a direct connection with this chapter, but I have a lifetime of connection with the community,” he said.
Greenberg and his wife, Stacy, created the “Heidi’s Angels” foundation in memory of a friend who died of breast cancer. He recognized that almost everyone he talked to was touched by the disease.
“The opportunity is endless; there’s so much work to be done of all different kinds…,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to be a part of something like this.”
Greenberg’s keynote was preceded by a speech from Bradley Sherman of Cleveland, a lawyer and volunteer for the national umbrella group Jewish Federations of North America. He pointed out the importance of the Jewish federation in his life, whether it was bringing him and his wife together or supporting him during a tragedy.
“At a pivotal moment, something was there, whether it was putting me on the right path, helping me stay on it, or leading me back when I lost my way,” Sherman said. “That something is federation.”
Even though he did not know many of the people in the room, said Sherman, he still felt extremely comfortable knowing that they were all part of one larger Jewish collective.
“It’s not just family and friends or people that we know; it’s people that we will never know,” he said. “Together, we are a divine force for good in the world. Together we make miracles happen.”
Elit and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum of Short Hills and Amy and Ira Steinberg of North Caldwell served as event chairs.