Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum has been the Senior Rabbi of New York City's Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) since 1992. Under her leadership, CBST has become an important voice in Judaism, in the world-wide discourse on the nature of religious community, and in the movement to secure basic civil rights for gay people everywhere.
Rabbi Kleinbaum's education and experience cut across all varieties of contemporary Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and secular activist. She received her ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1990. A 1977 graduate of Frisch Yeshiva High School of Northern New Jersey, she graduated cum Laude from Barnard College in Political Science in 1981. Rabbi Kleinbaum has also studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the Oxford University Centre for Post-Graduate Hebrew and Yiddish.
Prior to joining CBST, Rabbi Kleinbaum was Director of Congregational Relations at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC, 1990-1992. In 1989-1990 and 1987-1988, she served as Student Rabbi at the gay synagogue Congregation Beth Haverim in Atlanta, Georgia, 1989-1990. In 1988-1989, she was Senior Educator, National Federation of Temple Youth, Jerusalem, Israel. 1982-1985 she was Assistant Director, the National Yiddish Book Center, in Amherst, Mass.
Raised in a whole family of social activists, Rabbi Kleinbaum's own social action career began in her first year at Barnard College, leading protests against the school's investments in South Africa and against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It has continued nonstop ever since. As a human rights advocate--for blacks, women, gays and lesbians, immigrants, Palestinians--she has been jailed, arrested, vilified, and lauded, all with equal aplomb.
Rabbi Kleinbaum has testified in Federal Court and before the U.S. Congress in hearings on the subject of same-sex marriage. She attended the President's White House meeting of national religious leaders in 1999. Rabbi Kleinbaum has been a speaker or a panelist at numerous feminist and gay rights conferences. She has frequently been engaged to speak about same-sex marriage, Judaism & homosexuality, gay synagogues, and Judaism and social justice.
Rabbi Kleinbaum has been the subject of a New York Times profile and has been featured and interviewed in many books, magazines, and newspaper articles.
Rabbi Kleinbaum is a recipient of the Jewish Fund for Justice Woman of Valor Award. She has been named one of the country's Top 50 Jewish leaders by both national Jewish weeklies, The Forward and Jewish Week.
Rabbi Kleinbaum is a member of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform), and the New York Board of Rabbis. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner and two children.
(This biographical statement taken from a profile on the web site of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah.)
Biography Date: February, 2004
Congregation Beth Simchat Torah produced this 20th anniversary tribute video on Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum in 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=372aEb8n45Q
Jewish (Reconstructionist) | Jewish (Reform) | Clergy Activist | Feminism | New York | New York City