Rabbi Ronald Greenwald, former Nixon liason to Jewish community, dies

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Rabbi Ronald Greenwald, who worked to help free Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky and who served as President Richard Nixon’s liason to the Jewish community, has died.

Greenwald, a resident of Monsey, New York, died Wednesday in his sleep while on vacation in Florida. He was 82.

He founded in 1965 and continued to operate the Camp Sternberg Orthodox Jewish summer camp for girls in the Catskill Mountains and operated the Monsey Academy for Girls.

Greenwald was known for working to release people being held captive. He worked to free Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky, reportedly making 25 trips to East Germany in an effort to free Sharansky, who now serves as the head of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

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He also worked to free including political activist Lori Berenson who was held in prison in Peru and spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard, He was successful in negotiating the rescue of Israeli citizen Miron Markus, 24, from Mozambique in 1978.

He became active in politics in 1962, and worked on the gubernatorial campaign of Nelson A. Rockefeller, helping him win a large share of the Jewish vote for a Republican at the time. The Rockefeller campaign recommended Greenwald to the Nixon campaign, where he worked for Nixon’s 1972 reelection in the Jewish community.

During the Watergate scandal, Greenwald contacted Democratic Jewish members of Congress, including Elizabeth Holtzman, Bella Abzug and Arlen Specter, working to convince them that impeaching the president would weaken the United States and, by extension, hurt Israel.

Greenwald’s funeral was held Wednesday evening in Monsey and after which he was to be buried in Israel.

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