EDWARD KONIGSBERG MEMORIAL AWARD
“Minyan Mensch” Adam Greiss was raised to be a mensch but he didn’t gravitate to davening until meeting Rabbi Chaim Marcus five years ago. Today, he is often the first CIS member to arrive at our daily minyanim, demonstrating by example the dynamic relationship between prayer and purpose, commitment and community.
Born in Brooklyn into a Conservative family, Adam spent his first five years at a co-ed Jewish day school before moving to Long Island, where he went to Hebrew School until he became Bar Mitzvah—educational experiences which left him feeling far from uplifted. As an adult, he initially joined a Reform synagogue after settling in Springfield with his wife Risa and sons Daniel and Jeremy. Following a series of life events that culminated in the deaths of his mother and grandmother, Adam discovered Kabbalah, which answered many of the questions he had long pondered; and he spent the next seven years studying at the Kabbalah Centre. Through a local introduction, he eventually met Rav Chaim and decided to visit our Shul.
At CIS, he found the door to greater spirituality open to him, along with many new dimensions of religious experience and expression, and the embrace of a community that is notably accepting and helpful. He helped reciprocate in short order by arranging for his friend and mentor Rabbi Chaim Miller—the acclaimed biographer of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the editor of the Gutnick Chumash, among other works—to share his wisdom as a scholar-in-residence at CIS.
After 46 years of attending services roughly twice a year, Adam has now learned how and why to pray every day. At the start of Elul he began reciting Kaddish for his mother-in-law; and thanks to an OU initiative, he recited it for a fellow Jew in England unable to fulfill this mitzvah due to a nationwide lockdown. While ever cognizant of the terrible losses so many have suffered during the pandemic, Adam is keenly aware of the spiritual benefits he has derived from working at home, as he can daven b’tzibbur and participate regularly in the multiple shiurim offered by Rabbi Marcus via Zoom.
Adam has always pondered perplexing questions, most often through the prism of spiritual and creative endeavors. As Rabbi Marcus once noted, he is the only person on earth who has been publicly thanked for his support on an album by the legendary punk rock band the Ramones; and by Rabbi Miller, in his introduction to the The Practical Tanya. Johnny Ramone was Adam’s best friend long before Adam became a punk rock guitarist whose band often opened for the Ramones at clubs. Rabbi Miller was Adam’s student before he became his mentor. They met at the School of Visual Arts, where Adam has taught since 1992, and The Practical Tanya was the first of several books that he has helped Rabbi Miller design. Adam is Global Head of Design and Company Creative Solutions for Morgan Stanley, where he has spent the past 22 years of his career.
His quest for answers will surely continue, but if there is one thing Adam knows for sure it is this: praying with a minyan beats going it alone.