Sharon Kleinbaum

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Sharon Kleinbaum (born 1959) serves as spiritual leader of New York City’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. She was installed as CBST's first rabbi in 1992, arriving at the height of the AIDS crisis when the synagogue was in desperate need of pastoral care and spiritual leadership. [1][2][3] She is a prominent advocate for human rights.[3] She graduated from Barnard College and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, where she was ordained.[3] While at Barnard College, she led protests against Barnard’s investments in South Africa and against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.[2] She has two daughters.[2]

In 1995 Rabbi Kleinbaum, along with Rabbi Margaret Wenig and Russell Pearce, sent a resolution asking for support for civil marriage for gay couples to the Reform movement's Commission on Social Action; when it was approved by them, Wenig submitted it to the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which approved it in 1996.

Rabbi Kleinbaum served on Mayor Bloomberg's Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Runaway and Homeless Youth and New York Police Department’s LGBT Advisory Committee (2009-2010). Rabbi Kleinbaum has also served on Mayor de Blasio's Transition Committee (2013-2014). She is a Commissioner on New York City’s Commission on Human Rights, serves on Mayor de Blasio’s Faith Based Advisory Council (2014) and the U.S Department of State’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group Sub-working Group on Social Justice (2014).


Sharon Kleinbaum was named one of the 50 most influential rabbis in America by Newsweek for several years,[4] as well as one of Newsweek's 150 Women Who Shake the World.[5] She was also named one of the Top 10 Women Religious Leaders[6] and one of the 15 Inspiring LGBT Religious Leaders[7] by the Huffington Post. She has also been named one of the country's top 50 Jewish leaders by the Forward [8] and the New York Jewish Week, as well as being named one of Forward's Sisterhood 50 American Influential Rabbis[9] and AM New York named her one of New York City's Most Influential Women for Women's Day.[10]Rabbi Kleinbaum is a recipient of the Jewish Fund for Justice Woman of Valor Award. Other awards she has received include:

  • New York City Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman's award for her leadership and courage in the fight for lesbian and gay rights.
  • Hetrick-Martin Emery Award.
  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Board of Governors Award.
  • New York City Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi’s award for her leadership and dedication to safeguarding the rights of lesbians and gay men.
  • Jewish Fund for Justice’s “Woman of Valor”.
  • The Lavendar Light: Black and People of All Colors, Lesbian and Gay Gospel Choir Warriors of Faith Award
  • Grand Marshal for Heritage of Pride Gay Pride March.
  • LGBT Center’s Women’s Event Community Leader Award.
  • The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College's Keter Shem Tov Award.
  • Jews For Racial and Economic Justice's (JFREJ's) Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Award


Rabbi Kleinbaum is a 1977 graduate of The Frisch Yeshiva High School of Northern New Jersey, and graduated cum laude from Barnard College with a degree in Political Science in 1981. She received her ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1990. Rabbi Kleinbaum has also studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Oxford University Centre for Post-Graduate Hebrew and Yiddish Studies.

Articles and Books[edit]

  • Foreword: Changing Lives, Making History: Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, 2014).
  • Editor: Siddur B’chol L’vav’cha (Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, 2007).
  • Listening for the Oboe (Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, 2005).
  • Synagogue as Spiritual Community (Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, 2001).
  • "Bully Me" in It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller, Dutton Adult (March 22, 2011).
  • “Do Not Hold Back: Notes from a Gay Congregation” by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Tikkun, p. 51, Winter 2011.
  • “Supporting Our Muslim Neighbors in the New Year” by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Gay City News, September 15, 2010.
  • “Signs of Faith, ‘God Hates Hate’" by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, The, June 25, 2009.
  • "Overcoming Prejudice" in Conscience 27. (2006).
  • “What Now? After the Exodus , the Wilderness” from Women’s Passover Companion: Women’s Reflections on the Festival of Freedom edited by Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, Tara Mohr and Catherine Spector, Jewish Lights Pub; (February 2003).
  • Essay in Rabbis: The Many Faces of Judaism: 100 Unexpected Photographs of Rabbis With Essays in Their Own Words (Universe Publishing 2002).
  • “There’s a Place for Us: Gays and Lesbians in the Jewish Community” by Rabbis Sharon A. Kleinbaum and Rabbi Margaret Moers Wenig, Life Lights (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2002).
  • “Gay and Lesbian Synagogue as Spiritual Community” in the anthology Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation edited by Rebecca R. Alpert, Sue Levi Elwell and Shirley Idelson (Rutgers University Press 2001).
  • “Memo to Clinton: Gays and Lesbians”, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Tikkun Magazine, Vol. 8, January 1993.
  • “An Eye for an Eye, A Tooth for a Tooth” in Reconstructionist Autumn 1992.
  • “Responses to the Destruction: A Look at Some Rabbinic Texts” in Reconstructionist July–August 1990.

Works that Reference Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum[edit]

  • Changing Lives, Making History: Congregation Beit Simchat Torah by Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (2014) .
  • The L Life: Extraordinary Lesbians making a Difference by Erin McHugh, photographs by Jennifer May, Stewart, Tabori and Chang (2011).
  • "Liberation through Religion: A Conversation with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum" by Rebecca Steinitz, Arcus Foundation, October 15, 2010.[11]
  • Travels in A Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ Americans by Philip Gambone, University of Wisconsin Press (2010).
  • Lawyers' Ethics and the Pursuit of Social Justice: A Critical Reader (Critical America) (New York University Press 2005).
  • Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of A Man Who Rescued A Million Yiddish Books (Algonquin Books 2004).
  • The Many Faces of God: A Reader of Modern Jewish Theologies (URJ Press 2004).
  • From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship (Columbia University Press 2004).
  • The Quotable Jewish Woman: Wisdom, Inspiration, & Humor from the Mind and Heart (Jewish Lights Publishing 2004).
  • His Brother’s Keeper: 50 Years of the American Jewish Society for Service, by Paul Milkman, Global Publications (2001).
  • Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation edited by Rebecca R. Alpert, Sue Levi Elwell and Shirley Idelson (Rutgers University Press 2001).
  • The Journey Home: Jewish Women and the American Century by Joyce Antler (Free Press 1997).
  • Chapter 7 “From Exile to Homecoming” Taking Judaism Personally: Creating a Meaningful Spiritual Life by Judy Petsonk, Free Press (1996).
  • “Western Ideas About Death Chronology Part 7”, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum”, All of Us: Americans Talk About the Meaning of Death, by Patricia Anderson, Delacorte Press (1996).
  • “Part 2: A Death in the Family: AIDS Related Deaths” Interview with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort, by Dr. Ron Wolfson, The Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs (1993).
  • A Gay Synagogue in New York by Moshe Shokeid Columbia University Press (1995).[12]

Films that Rabbi Kleinbaum is featured in[edit]


  1. ^ Witchel, Alex (May 5, 1993). "AT WORK WITH: Sharon Kleinbaum; 'Luckiest Rabbi In America' Holds Faith Amid the Hate". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c "Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution (Jewish Women's Archive)". Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  3. ^ a b c "Social Justice | Impact | Stories of Impact | Liberation through Religion: A Conversation with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum". Arcus Foundation. 2010-10-15. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  4. ^ [1] in America by Newsweek 2007-2013
  5. ^ "150 Women Who Shake the World". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Top 10 Women Religious leaders". The Huffington Post. 15 August 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "15 Inspiring LGBT Religious Leaders". The Huffington Post. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  8. ^ The Forward's Top 50 Jewish Leaders,
  9. ^ "The Forward's Sisterhood 50 Amererican Influential Women Rabbis". The Jewish Daily Forward. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Steinitz, Rebecca. "Liberation through Religion: A Conversation with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum". Arcus Foundation. Arcus Foundation. Retrieved August 25, 2011. 
  12. ^ Shokeid, Moshe (1995). A Gay Synagogue in New York. New York: Columbia University Press. 

External links[edit]