Jonathan Greenfield — a photojournalist, film director, tea importer, athlete, world traveler, environmentalist and devoted husband and father, whose battle with ALS helped and inspired countless people here and around the world — died peacefully yesterday at his Westport home, surrounded by family and close friends. He was 50 years old.
Jonathan was born in Philadelphia. After dropping out of New York University, he spent his early career as a photojournalist, traveling the globe in search of compelling stories. His work was published in The New York Times.
He received his masters at the elite Kunsthochschule fuer Medien in Koeln, Germany. He produced and directed documentaries and short fiction films for German networks on subjects like drug addiction, the homeless, and German Jews serving in the Israeli Defense Forces.
On a trip to New York in 2007 he met Iris. A whirlwind romance led to a marriage and the birth of 3 children. The family made a gradual migration out of New York, eventually settling in Westport.
Always searching for the next adventure, Jonathan embarked on a new career as a purveyor of imported teas. Wanderlust and an endless sense of wonder characterized his life. His athletic pursuits included surfing, swimming, hiking and cycling.
Taking his children to music and swim lessons, skateboarding with them, and bringing them on adventures brought him endless joy.
He was adamant about supporting environmental causes and plant-based diets. In recent years he discovered a new challenge in the Wim Hof breathing method. Through breathing, cold therapy and commitment, he trained himself to control his body for optimal focus and health. He sat in a bath of freezing water for up to 2 minutes, emerging invigorated. Jonathan also completed his first triathlon.
In late 2018, he received a diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). While he could still walk with assistance, Jonathan trekked through the Pyrenees Mountains with Wim Hof.
That same year he and Iris founded Breathe 4 ALS, a non-profit that funds ALS research and workshops, to help patients breathe stronger and longer.
Jonathan was preceded in death by his father Hyman and brother Seth. He is survived by his wife Iris; children Zach, Skye and Josie; sister Ashley; niece Sydney, and nephews Dylan and Hunter.
Greenfield’s family is grateful to the Westport and Cherry Hill communities for their outpouring of support and endless love; to Zenia Gordon for her loving care, and Chris Curtin of Compassionate Care ALS for his unwavering support and advocacy during Jonathan’s final days.
A graveside service will be held tomorrow (Tuesday, June 15, 10 a.m., Willowbrook Cemetery, Westport). In lieu of memorial donations, the family requests that donations be made to The Greenfields’ foundation, www.breathe4als.org.
Arrangements are under the direction of Sholom Chapel, Stamford. To send condolences to the family, please visit www.sholomchapel.com.
To read more about Jonathan Greenfield’s tea business, click here. For a story on Jonathan and the Wim Hof breathing method, click here. For a story on Jonathan’s fight to access ALS medications, click here.)