Greenspan earns Tobian community service accolade
By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP
DALLAS — When he arrived in town 28 years ago, Alan N. Greenspan set out in the most methodical way to become a part of the local Jewish community.
“I somehow got a hold of the Texas Jewish Post. They had an issue that listed every Jewish organization in Dallas, and gave a phone number and a contact person,” Greenspan said. “These were the days when you couldn’t email people, so I called every organization on the list and asked them to put me on their mailing list.”
He attended everything he could, and eventually became president of the local chapter of the American Jewish Committee, chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council, and a regular contributor to AIPAC and other groups.
On Monday, Nov. 27, Greenspan will be honored with the Milton I. Tobian Community Relations Award from AJC Dallas at the Westin Dallas Park Central. The award honors those who work to improve human relations, reflect their heritage and dedicate themselves to the community.
Greenspan downplayed the idea that he deserved the award, but is thrilled to help promote AJC.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to help fundraise for the organization that has been so important to me and my life,” he said.
Gary Eisenstat, a former AJC president and co-chair of the dinner, wasn’t part of the selection committee, but said he figured Greenspan was selected for his continual work rather than any specific accomplishment.
“You see him pop up all the time in various settings, whether at synagogue or JCRC or AJC,” Eisenstat said. “You just see his name pop up all the time because he’s a doer and a giver. I think it’s the overall picture. It’s the consistency of his activities and his dedication throughout the years. He’s not just a flash in the pan.”
The award has been granted to individuals, couples or groups 40 times from 1970 to 2016.
“We don’t give an award just to give an award,” said Joel Schwitzer, AJC Dallas’ regional director. “We want to make sure that if we present that we’re recognizing someone whose values and actions reflect AJC’s values. It’s his whole body of work and his ongoing engagement with AJC.”
The event begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the program at 7. The Westin is located at 12720 Merit Drive. Registration closes Nov. 20, and RSVPs can be filled out at AJC.org/tobian. The co-chairs are Eisenstat and Brian Lidji. President Margot Carter will present Greenspan with the award.
Schwitzer said Greenspan is “someone very passionate about his role as a Jewish leader who carefully selects what to be involved in to make sure that position reflects his values, and we’re thrilled he chose AJC.”
Eisenstat said AJC has become known as the “Jewish department of state” in recent years for its expanded international work. It advances the cause of Israel and combats anti-Semitism in a number of ways.
One key is coalition building, an area in which Greenspan has made a name for himself.
Greenspan came to Dallas in 1989 to work for the law firm of Jackson Walker, LLP, where he stayed for 20 years before becoming first general counsel for Glazer’s Distributors. In 2016, Glazer’s merged with Southern Wine & Spirits to become Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, the largest wholesaler in North America. He is now the general counsel for Southern Glazer’s.
Along the way he has been involved with many groups, and AJC holds a special place in his heart.
“I really liked the approach of AJC because it was consistent with my outlook on the world,” Greenspan said, citing the work on human rights and outreach.
“One of the things I’m very proud of is being the first person in Dallas to participate in a yearlong program with AJC called the Sholom D. Comay Fellowship,” he said.
The program allows young people to participate in the organization’s highest levels. He also was involved with the Hilda Katz Blaustein Leadership Institute, which allowed him to meet other chapters’ leaders and future leaders.
Through AJC, he worked with Muslim day schools in the area to improve the portrayal of Jews and Israel in textbooks. While chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, he oversaw an initiative to study Texas public school books out of similar concerns.
“What I’ve tried to do is to build bridges within the community and with other communities, and I think that’s the hallmark of the American Jewish Committee as well,” Greenspan said.
He has spent a good amount of time working with Latino, Christian and Muslim groups, among others.
“I think regardless of a person’s political views or priorities, we can always find common ground,” Greenspan said.
He has been married to Terri Train Greenspan for 25 years, and they have three children, Adam, Sara and Jennifer. Greenspan credits his wife for giving him a chance to blossom as a leader in the Jewish community. He also said the companies he’s worked for have been incredibly supportive.
Greenspan cited Richard Albert, who was AJC president before him, as being one of his mentors.
“The unique thing about my friendship with Richard is that when I became president of AJC, they used the phrase l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation,” he said. “Richard was 80 when he turned over the reins to me, and I was 40.”
He also mentioned Larry Ginsburg, who has been an AJC president, JCRC chair and president of Temple Emanu-El — and also a Milton Tobian honoree.
Of course, other leaders have plenty of things to say about Greenspan.
“Alan’s a very thoughtful person,” Eisenstat said. “He’s not going to be the guy who will stand up and wave his arms around and be ‘look at me, look at me.’ He talks by doing.”