Longtime Jewish Community Professional Abbey Krain Joins ADL Philadelphia

Abbey Krain (Jordan Cassway Photography)

Abbey Krain, 56, is the new senior associate regional director at Anti-Defamation League Philadelphia, but her resume features numerous stops at Jewish community organizations.

Before taking the ADL job, Krain served as executive director of two different synagogues in the area: Temple Sholom in Broomall (2011-2022) and Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel (1998-2002) in Philadelphia. She also worked as the registrar for Habonim Dror Camp Galil (2006-2011).

“My Judaism has always been the most important thing in my life,” said Krain, a member of Tiferet Bet Israel, the Conservative synagogue in her hometown of Blue Bell.

Krain grew up attending Congregation Adath Jeshurun on Old York Road. She called AJ’s longtime cantor, Charles Davidson, who recently died, “a huge influence on my life.”

At 10, she attended an evening slideshow of, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” the cantor’s musical rendition of the poetry written by the children in the Nazi ghetto of Theresienstadt.

“It stirred my soul,” she said.

“I knew from that point forward I wanted to work in the Jewish community,” Krain added.

After 10th grade, Krain visited Israel for the first time as a counselor at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. She came back from that experience wanting to attend Brandeis University. She got her bachelor’s degree there in Near Eastern and Judaic studies in 1989.

At Brandeis, Krain was “very much involved in Hillel,” she said. She became the leader of Saturday morning services for the Conservative movement.

After Brandeis, Krain was a William Penn Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania from 1989-1992 and earned a master’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis in 1996. Then she spent much of the next three decades working for synagogues.

Krain led shuls with hundreds of members, budgets in the millions and programs for every generation. She enjoyed the work.

“I loved being a part of a community, helping to create community, helping to strengthen community,” she said.

But at the same time, Krain moved to the Blue Bell Country Club neighborhood in 2002 and joined TBI with her three children. Even as she worked for other synagogues, Krain felt spiritually connected to her own.

“I was finding for myself that I was missing my own spirituality and my own place,” she said.

During the pandemic, those feelings hit even harder. As the pandemic ended, she decided to pursue a change.

“When you have a job as executive director of a synagogue, you need to be there for people,” she said. “I was thinking it would be nice to be back in synagogue just to make a place for myself.”

Krain knew she still wanted to work in the Jewish community. She just wasn’t sure where. She did a brief stint, about a year and a half, as a development manager at Chabad at Penn.

But Krain also started thinking about how she “started on this path to be a Jewish communal service professional.” It brought her back to Cantor Davidson and “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.”

That was when a friend of hers, Robin Burstein, reached out. Burstein held Krain’s current position at ADL Philadelphia, but she was making aliyah and searching for a replacement.

“Everything kind of just came together,” Krain said.

Krain believes in the ADL’s mission.

“It’s protecting the Jewish community against antisemitism,” she said. “At the same time, it allows me to use my desire for tikkun olam and reaching out to other groups. Any community that is experiencing hate at any time and needs protection.”

“It’s the old Pirkei Avot statement: If I’m not for myself, who is for me? If I’m only for myself, who am I? And if not now, when?” she continued.

“Those are words that I live by, aspire to and want to live by every day,” she concluded.

Krain has been with the ADL since July. Her role includes speaking at synagogues and other organizations, advocacy in the state capital of Harrisburg and talking to the media.

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