Rabbi Yossi Greenberg and his family have lived in an apartment below Miami students since winter break. Greenberg also serves as the advisor for Chabad’s Jewish student group at Miami.
“It’s a very unique program that creates a family on campus for Jewish students” Greenberg said.
His upstairs neighbor, sophomore Julia Brannon, a history and education major, didn’t expect to live above a rabbi while at college.
“We assumed it would be college kids [living below us] because the house is so close to campus, and they just said another group is below you when we signed,” Brannon said.
The living situation is definitely unique for the students.
“It’s technically a three-story house with the basement, but nothing’s down there right now,” Brannon said. “His family is on the first floor and above him are two apartments, but we’re a whole friend group so we just rented both so we have six people living above them.”
Greenberg and his wife have a big family, with four kids.
“We haven’t met the whole family, it’s been in passing,” Brannon said. “It’s an ongoing speculation [how many kids he has]. We’ll be like, ‘Wait, there’s another one?’ It’s a kind of like a fun way to pass the time.”
The couple enjoys raising their young family in a college town.
“My kids are still small, but they have many student friends,” Greenberg said.
Brannon says she and her roommates feel that living above Greenberg’s family is also an interesting experience for them.
“We played spikeball before it snowed, at the beginning of the semester, and his kids were watching on the stairs,” Brannon said. “They’re all really cute and sweet so that part’s fun.”
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Greenberg and his family moved from Brooklyn, N.Y. and have lived in Oxford since 2013. Greenberg’s residence among students allows him to be there for the students in Chabad.
“Based in New York, Chabad is a global organization, in over 100 countries, and still expanding here to be an open atmosphere for anyone,” Greenberg said. “What makes Chabad [at Miami] unique is the director lives literally on campus. I want to be accessible at all times.”
Greenberg can be seen all around Miami’s campus holding various programs, visiting with students and helping to facilitate Jewish social events.
“I’m not a rabbi who sits in the office and gives sermons,” he said.
Greenberg’s responsibilities include praying with students, hosting High Holy Day celebrations and having students over to his home for Friday Shabbat. With COVID-19, gatherings have been smaller and limited.
Despite COVID Greenberg and Chabad still continue their mission of supporting Jewish students. Greenberg fulfills this mission by being accessible to all Miami students.
“My office is Oxford,” he said. “I have to be where the students are.”
Although the Jewish population in Oxford is small, Greenberg said members of Chabad become like a family.
“When students are far away from home, [with Chabad] they create a family,” Greenberg said. “Students leave the stress of outside and come inside to relax and there’s a family here.”