Over the years, Rabbi Pinchas Klein has fought for causes and issues that he's considered important. First, there was Soviet Jewry, then he spoke out against the Cambodian genocide. And then, in April 2007, Klein strove to heighten awareness of the existential threat that Iran posed to Israel. He joined 21 other rabbis in protest outside the United Nations.
The protesters, organized by Amcha — the Coalition for Jewish Concerns, was calling for the expulsion of Iran from the international body for its threats to annihilate Israel. The members were imprisoned for several hours and charged with disorderly conduct (the charges were eventually dismissed, reported Klein).
Klein, 58, said that his "speaking up for causes where I believe my voice will make a difference" will fit in well as he formally takes up his new post as the senior rabbi for Congregations of Shaare Shamayim, a shul, noted the religious leader, fully open to discussions of "events of the day."
Klein, whose given name is Jean Claude, was born in Paris to Holocaust survivors, and was raised in Quebec. He received his rabbinical ordination from the Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Ontario. He also earned a master's and doctorate in psychology.
He explained that he doesn't see listening to people's concerns as a clinical psychologist, where his focus has been marriage and family counseling, as all that different from being a rabbi.
"Every rabbi brings a unique perspective because God doesn't make us in molds," noted Klein, who has previously served on the pulpit at Congregation Kneseth Israel in Annapolis, Md., and, most recently, for the past seven years, at Mount Freedom Jewish Center in Randolph, N.J.
He began his duties July 1, and will be officially installed by his predecessor on Sept. 20.