Lisa Greene

Known in some circles as Rabbi Greene the Sequel, I am a second generation Rabbi Greene, following in the footsteps of my father, Rabbi Barry H. Greene (z”l). Like my father, I believe that each of us can find a meaningful place of involvement in our community by jumping in and doing. Like my father, I believe that my role as a rabbi is to help people to do this.

I have been blessed to serve North Shore Congregation Israel since 1999. In that time, my husband, Jonathan Polish, and I have welcomed our three children, Noa, David and Talia, into our lives and the community. All three, proud products of our Gates of Learning Preschool, can tell you the best Oneg Shabbat food and the cool places to run around and hide at temple. And all three are up-and-coming OSRUI campers.

My rabbinate is marked by a joy of teaching, a love of informal education, and the desire to help congregants create their own place within the community. I find teaching, learning, and community to come together daily, whether I am singing with our Gates of Learning students for Shabbat, engaging parents or children in family education programs, learning with our b’nei mitzvah and Confirmation students, teaching our Adult B’nei Mitzvah program, marking the moments of the life-cycle with our NSCI families, or fulfilling various other roles for the congregation.

Our Adult B’nai Mitzvah program, begun in 2000, is one of my proudest achievements and collaborations, bringing learning and community together. Each class creates its own community as its members learn from Torah and from one another’s lives. Women and men stand side by side, as do Jews-by-Choice and born Jews, and adults whose ages span decades.

Chai @ NSCI, our Women’s Seder and Women’s Retreat are other areas that bring learning and community together. Each of these initiatives allows us to tap our members on the shoulder and ask my favorite questions: What would you like to do in our community to make it your community? How would you like to become involved here at NSCI?

I grew up in South Orange, New Jersey. After graduating from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, I worked as a securities analyst at Lazard Frères Asset Management. During rabbinic studies at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, I served congregations in Manhattan, Anchorage, AK and Fort Smith, AR. After ordination, I moved to Chicago to serve Temple Jeremiah.

In our greater Jewish community, I have been honored to teach our youth on the faculty of Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) and as Rabbinic Advisor to NFTY-CAR. As a board member of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), I was privileged to try to bring Jewish values to learning and action impacting Chicago’s diverse communities. Over the years I have served the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and the Women’s Rabbinic Network in various ways. Presently, I am a member of the Reform Pension Board.

Project Kesher provided my first opportunity to create women’s haggadot and seders. With Project Kesher, I was able to return to the former Soviet Union and teach women from nascent Jewish communities, having previously taught in Ukraine in the summer of 1994. Journeys to the former Soviet Union, back-country camping with OSRUI campers in Colorado, and leading overnight camp in Alaska stand alongside the creation of new rituals and experiential learning as I seek to step outside of my Jewish comfort zone to learn, explore and make sacred moments and community.


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