By Judie Jacobson
HARTFORD – N. Richard Greenfield, longtime publisher of the Connecticut Jewish Ledger and the Massachusetts Jewish Ledger, died Wednesday, April 16, three days before his 72nd birthday. A resident of Norwell, Mass., he passed after a brief illness, while visiting family in San Francisco, Calif.
Born in Sharon, Mass., the son of Lillian and David Greenfield, “Ricky,” as he was known to family and friends, was a successful Wall Street stockbroker when, in 1992, he joined a consortium of businessmen who purchased the Ledger from its editor and publisher Bert Gaster. Two years later, he bought out his business partners and assumed the mantle of Ledger publisher.
As the Ledger prepared to celebrate its 85th anniversary in June, Greenfield stepped aside, citing health issues as well as a desire to spend more time with his three young grandsons on the West Coast. In March of this year he sold the paper to Hartford philanthropist and businessman Henry M. Zachs.
Though it was his avocation, Greenfield approached his role as Ledger publisher with seriousness of purpose and an overwhelming sense of responsibility to the Southern New England Jewish communities his paper served.
Ledger staff recalled Greenfield as an unassuming leader who refused to assign himself a private office in his own firm. Instead – as he had as a Wall Street stockbroker – he set up stakes at a small desk on the Ledger “floor,” where he would work amid the din of a busy office staff. Greenfield would arrive in the Ledger’s Hartford offices each week sporting a baseball cap and carrying a tote bag, stuffed with legal pads filled with scribbled notes for article ideas and potential ad programs, as well as clippings of newspaper and magazine articles of interest…and maybe a couple of bottles of diet Coke. He shared them all with staff.
“Ricky’s mind was constantly on the move,” said Leslie Iarusso, associate publisher of the Jewish Ledger. “He was a voracious reader – history, politics, religious thought…just about anything – and when he read something he was always thinking about how that could be turned into an interesting and informative article for the Ledger. He would go from person to person, dropping an article on a desk here and there, discussing an idea.”
During the course of his 20-year tenure, Greenfield used the pages of the Ledger to advance Jewish unity and promote Jewish thought and ideas. Above all, he was a steadfast pro-Israel activist, fearlessly speaking out in defense of the Jewish state, often biting in his criticism of those whom he perceived as putting the Jewish state in jeopardy.
An unapologetic conservative, Greenfield was a “political junkie, active in conservative politics locally and nationally. He counted among his close friends a slew of politicians, as well as political commentators and consultants. They included former Connecticut Congressmen Rob Simmons and Chris Shays, the late U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeanne Kirkpatrick, former Florida U.S. Senator Connie Mack, the top Republican political strategist Arthur Finkelstein, Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, radio talk show host Dennis Prager, and author Ira Stoll.
Though their political views often diverged, Greenfield was also a good friend of former Connecticut U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, whose candidacy he championed during each of Lieberman’s political runs.
In addition to the opinions he expressed on the editorial pages of his own newspaper, Greenfield’s op-eds were widely published in numerous print and online publications, including The Algemeiner, Jewish World Review, The Future of Capitalism, American Thinker and The Jewish Press.
He was also active in numerous Jewish organizations. Among his many affiliations, he had served on the New York Board of Governors of the Middle East Forum, the National Board of Directors of the Zionist Organization of America, the New York Advisory Board of CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), and as chairman of the Board of the University of Connecticut Hillel.
Ricky Greenfield is survived by his wife Karen (Liner) Greenfield, his son and daughter-in-law, Jason and Lauren Greenfield, three grandsons, and his brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Barbara Greenfield.
The Ledger plans to honor the memory of the paper’s former publisher with a fund establishing the annual N. Richard Greenfield Memorial Lecture. For more information, email email@example.com.
In Memory of Ricky Greenfield
As news of Ricky Greenfield’s passing spread, several of his friends and associates posted articles online that captured his spirit. We reprint two of those articles here.
He was my dear and treasured friend for decades – a man whose wisdom, kindness wit, cheer and affection enlivened every conversation. We spoke every week and the last time I saw him the late fall we had a three-hour lunch at the Second Avenue Deli.
Ricky was the most unusual man. His love of Israel, Zionism and Jews knew no bounds. He was guided by the strictest principles of devotion to family, empathy for all people’s suffering, generosity without demands, integrity, unshakeable loyalty and humility.
Jewish tradition holds that every generation has 36 saints (lamed-vavniks) on whose pity, justice and kindness the world depends. On April 16, 2014 there were only 35 left – a vacancy that must be filled by someone like Ricky who left such giant footsteps.
When my chaver [friend] Rabbi Jon Hausman [of Congregation Ahavath Torah in Stoughton, Mass.] contacted me a day ago to inform me of the passing of Ricky Greenfield, publisher of The Connecticut Jewish Ledger, I was devastated, but not surprised. Ricky had been in poor health for years, but courageously soldiered on to maintain one of the few Jewish publications that told the EMET about who both Israel and the Jewish people’s friends were.
He was a valued conservative, a former Bear Stearns banker, which made him a kindred spirit on matters both economic and financial. He was unstinting in publishing opinion columns and articles of note, including several of my own pieces, for which I am grateful. When my Christian Zionist friends would pose the usual question of why are Jews so liberal, I would often point towards Ricky, who was anything but.
Nevertheless, he was scrupulous about reserving his judgment calls to editorials, unlike some national media who splatter opinions in what passes for news on-line and in print. Ricky well served his Connecticut and Western Massachusetts Jewish and non-Jewish readers with local community news and valued insights into prevailing topics in the larger world. It was my privilege professionally to be part of the larger circle of admirers of this courageous and fearless publisher.
Senior Editor, New English Review
and author of The West Speaks
The staff of the Connecticut Jewish Ledger and the Massachusetts Jewish Ledger mourn the passing of “Ricky” Greenfield, publisher of our papers from 1994 to 2014.
Ricky was a man of uncommon principle, a wise leader, a loyal and generous friend, and a fierce and passionate defender of the State of Israel.
He embraced Yiddishkeit with great joy and was boundless in his love for the Jewish people. His legacy is reflected in the vibrancy of Jewish life in the Southern New England Jewish communities that he sought so selflessly to unite.
May his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
His memory will serve as a source of strength and a blessing.