By Aaron Hale, Naples Daily News
Rabbi Mendy Greenberg teaches and leads observances at Chabad of Bonita Springs & Estero. Rabbi Greenberg says he came to Bonita Springs four years because he learned there was not a strong Jewish community in the area to educate, support and minister local Jews.
– Age: 32
– Religion/Denomination: Jewish, Chabad-Lubavitch. “We try not to use labels. Labels are for T-shirts. We are a ‘pre-dominational’ church. We try to unite everyone. We try to focus on what we do have in common.”
– Education: Bachelor’s degree in Jewish studies at Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, N.J., and post-graduate degree at the Central Chabad Center in Brooklyn.
Q: Why is faith important to you?
A: “Faith is something I was raised with. Faith (means) too look at the beauty of every ritual and every practice. Each observance carries within it how it relates to our soul and the rest of our lives. When you focus on that, it not only doesn’t become a burden, it becomes something you look forward to.”
Q: How do you express your faith?
A: “Expression of faith is an action. Faith without action is like a body without a soul. It may be a very beautiful body, but there’s no life to it. Faith doesn’t have any meaning unless it’s backed with actions. Faith has to be expressed in every level of our life, not just in the synagogue, but every step of our life. It has to be some kind of expression of godliness in everything that we do. If we’re doing it with the purpose of serving God, then it’s shows that faith has validity. The ultimate proof is if it leads to living a better life and helping others as well.”
Q: How long have you been a religious person?
A: “I’m still trying to be religious. Being religious requires constant maintenance. There’s never a time when you master everything and become religious. A person has to strive in their own way to become better. If something is good yesterday, we have to make it even better today.”
Q: How has faith helped you through life challenges?
A: “It give you a perspective. There’s a concept in Judaism called ‘tracht gut bet zany.’ It’s a Yiddish expression. It means, ‘Think good, (and) it will be good.’ It’s up to us to control how things will be. If you have that level of faith — even though there are challenges and hard times — if you look at it from that perspective, it makes it easier. Faith is (there) even when things are not going good. Faith helps you through everything and gives you a better perspective.”
Q: Who is your favorite religious leader or historic character?
A: “The Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a spiritual leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Judaism). The reason I look up to him is because of the love that he had for everyone. He looked straight into the soul of a person. He disregarded anything on the surface. He was able to revolutionize a way of thinking. People focused too much on the surface and (forgot) about the depth.”