Memory of THA alumna to be honored at Tikkun Olam dinner

Anna Greenberg
Anna Greenberg

Tucson Hebrew Academy will celebrate its 40th anniversary at the Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) dinner on Sunday, Oct. 27 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. The annual event will honor the memory of Anna Greenberg with the 2013 Tikkun Olam Award. Greenberg, a THA alumna, died of cancer in May at age 28.

“There’s so much good will toward the Greenberg family,” Arthur Yavelberg, head of school, told the AJP. “All five kids attended THA. It’s a real opportunity to acknowledge a family that’s had such a positive influence on our community.”

Rabbi Jennifer Krause, a Tucsonan now living in New York City, will be the keynote speaker, talking about Jewish values in action. She’s the author of “The Answer: Making Sense of Life, One Question at a Time.”

Popular Jewish musicians Neshema Carlebach and Josh Nelson will perform.

Carlebach says she sings so that people can feel. “I want people to feel — that’s when healing begins,” she told the AJP in 2011, when she last performed in Tucson.

“Anna was not only a hero to the Tucson Hebrew Academy family, but to countless others as she struggled to overcome cancer with grace, a message and a mission. Anna made the world a better place for 28 years; she healed us, she healed our community and dispensed hope in her darkest hours,” says Debbie Baker, a THA parent who is helping to organize the event.

“Everywhere Anna went she connected to so many people. They still want to honor her,” says Alayne Greenberg, Anna’s mother. “She was always fundraising as a community service, for the Girl Scouts, the March of Dimes and the American Cancer Society. Anna’s name kept coming up for the Tikkun Olam Award,” presented at THA’s major fundraising event.

“On any application that asked about community service, Anna would answer ‘from the womb,’” says Greenberg. “I volunteered at Handmaker, [Congregations] Anshei Israel and Young Israel, and for Soviet Jewry. The kids always took part with me.”

All five Greenberg children attended THA for eight years each “so that’s 40 years” of support to the school, notes Julee Dawson, director of development and community relations at THA.

It’s appropriate for Anna to be so honored, says Yavelberg, adding that he’s reminded of “the Midrash based on Aaron in the Book of Exodus. Anna would go back and forth between people to patiently and lovingly resolve tensions. She was someone who didn’t give lip service to caring for people. She was a peacemaker.”

Anna’s positive attitude was so inspiring, her friends coined a new word to describe it: “Anna-tude.” To reinforce Anna’s compassion, the school’s discipline and anti-bullying curriculum, known as “Owning Up,” will be revitalized and re-named the “Anna-tude” program.

Anna-tude goals are “to promote mutual respect and acceptance, to promote civility,” says Yavelberg, “working with teachers, students and parents. One of the starting points is a social interaction [group] working mostly with 6th grade boys. Parent meetings will start soon.”

Greenberg’s hope for a lasting memorial to her daughter is that “students will find ways to contribute to the community, and there are many ways to do this. I know how important this was to Anna. I’d like to see a little more joy and peace shared among people.”

Tickets for THA’s Tikkun Olam event are $150 each; $250 per couple. Sponsorships are available. For more information, call 529-3888 or visit www.thaaz.org/tikkunolam.