110 · Representative Documents: Finding Aids and Guides
Finding Aid for the Rabbi Isaac Klein Papers, 1925–1979
Rabbi Isaac Klein Papers, 1925-1979 at the State University of New York at Buffalo. University Archives
http://libweb1.lib.buffalo.edu:8080/findingaids/view?docId=ead/archives/ubar_ms0149.xml[6/23/15, 2:13:56 PM]
College of New York. He earned his way through school by teaching part time.
As he was nearing ordination at the Yeshiva he transferred to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he was
ordained in 1934. Previously, in 1932, he had married Henriette Levin and was blessed by three children: Hannah (Mrs. Paul
Katz), Miriam (Mrs. Saul Shapiro), and Rivkah (Mrs. Gerald Berkowitz).
Rabbi Klein's first pulpit was Kodimoh Congregation, Springfield, Massachusetts, where he served until 1953 except for
government service. He proved to be an outstanding chaplain and the story of those years is told in one of his many books.
In 1950-1951, appointed by President Truman, he directed Jewish religious affairs in the American occupied sector of
Germany. During his Springfield years, Rabbi Klein accomplished two outstanding feats. He received a Ph.D. in 1948 from
Harvard University under the sponsorship of the late Professor Harry B. Wolfson. Even more difficult, Rabbi Klein was one of
only two men in the century-old history of the Seminary to receive full ordination (S'micha).
In 1953 Rabbi Klein accepted the pulpit of Temple Emanuel in Buffalo, New York. In 1968 this synagogue merged with
Temple Beth David to become Temple Shaarey Zedek. Rabbi Klein retired in 1972, spending his winters in California where
he taught at the University of Judaism, lectured widely and, despite failing health, wrote many books and articles. His
magnum opus, A GUIDE TO JEWISH RELIGIOUS PRACTICE, was published posthumously. A towering figure among the
Conservative rabbis of his generation, Rabbi Klein leaned toward tradition both in personal practice and his influence on the
Rabbi-Klein died in Los Angeles on January 23, 1979 and was buried in Buffalo, New York.
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Scope and Content Note
The collection consists of extensive writings by Klein on traditional Jewish practice and law. This includes manuscript
material for his books Guide to Jewish Religious Practice (1979), The Ten Commandments in a Changing World (1963), The
Anguish and the Ecstasy of a Jewish Chaplain (1974), and his translation of The Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah): Book
7, The Book of Agriculture (1979). Also represented are speeches, sermons, articles, and remarks from the conservative
Jewish viewpoint on subjects such as medical ethics, dietary laws, adoption, and marriage and divorce. Meeting minutes,
annual reports, bulletins, and sermons relating to Klein's rabbinical vocations in Springfield, Massachusetts and Buffalo, New
York are also included. The papers contain photographs, wartime letters, and military records of Klein documenting his
service in World War II as a director of Jewish religious affairs in Germany.
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While loosely organized into categories (biographical information, education, publications, Rabbinical Assembly, religious
matters, and Temple Emanuel) within this finding aid, the physical arrangement of the collections' files has been
maintained as processed by the staff of the State University of New York College at Buffalo (Buffalo State) Archives.
I. Biographical Information
II. Education
III. Publications
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