This is Glenn
Glenn is 74 years old, married for 51 years. He met his wife at one of the very first demonstrations he attended for the rights of Soviet Jewry. He and his wife had two children, and neither is still alive. This is one of those moments when unexpected emotions emerge when I am interviewing and willing to share sensitive and painful history.
Glenn is actively retired. From 1964 to 1990, he helped run the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ). It was an organization created to help get Jews out of the Soviet Union. He has always been concerned about civil rights. When a student at Queens College, he was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC.) When he and his friends became aware of the oppression of Soviet Jews, they believed that if they can help oppressed blacks in this country, "what about our own people?" Thus, they formed the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and focused on getting Jews out of the Soviet Union. The SSSJ used many of the same methods of the civil rights organizations and the antiwar movement and added some of their own tactics. They helped at least 150 Jews get out of the Soviet Union.
In 1990, Glenn felt that the organization had been successful and he needed to take a job that would earn money. He worked for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) at the Douglas Housing Project on Columbus Avenue and 103rd Street. street. He was part of a team that managed the housing development. It is the third largest housing project in New York City, and he worked there for 20 years before retiring in 2010.
Glenn's family lived on Sanford Avenue in Downtown Flushing, close to where I grew up. When he was 12, they moved to Kew Garden Hills. He attended Central Queens Yeshiva. He and I discussed some of the old places in Flushing, including Kissena Farms (an old fruit and vegetable store that is now a kosher deli.) He commented on how he misses, even today, some of the places that are no longer there and how much the city has changed from when he was a kid. At the time he lived in Flushing, one of the nearby housing projects (Pomonok) did not allow African American families to live there. Some changes are for the better.
When Glenn married in 1968, he and his wife moved to the Upper West Side of New York City. He wanted to follow the Rabbi whom he knew well, and participate in his congregation at Lincoln Square Synagogue on 68th street and Amsterdam Avenue. He has remained active in that Synagogue.
Glenn's retirement is filled with activity. He attends Synagogue twice a day. He travels to Israel twice a year to visit his brother and his family. His sense of fairness and social justice has not waned, including his involvement in the tenant's association in his building. His wife is so busy that he can not even begin to describe all the things she is doing.
It is the broad diversity of people he encounters daily that Glenn likes most about living in New York. "If you go out in the street, there are a zillion different things happening." However, he could do without the dirt and the high cost of living. But, in looking back at his life, he has no regrets. He has lived an interesting life and getting out every day continues to keep his life active and meaningful.