Yeshiva Alumnus Rabbi Sidney Kleiman Reflects on 100 Years of Judaism in America

Rabbi Sidney Kleiman has seen a few things in his day.

Rabbi Sidney Kleiman, America’s longest-serving and oldest active congregational rabbi, turns 100 in January.

As he approaches his 100th birthday this January, Kleiman is the longest-serving and oldest active congregational rabbi in the United States. He graduated Yeshiva College in 1935, pursued post-graduate work at YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School for Jewish Studies and received semikha [rabbinic ordination] from Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, father of Rav Joseph B. Soloveichik, at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, before becoming the rabbi of New York City’s Congregation Adereth El on East 29th Street in 1939.

Kleiman has served as rabbi of the historic synagogue for more than 60 years, through the Depression, World War II, and all of Israel’s wars. He has also welcomed many of YU’s Stern College for Women students into Adereth El to share in its Shabbat services as the college opened more and more dormitories in the Midtown area. Kleiman stepped into his current role of rabbi emeritus in 1999 and continues to advise current shul leader Rabbi Gideon Shloush, who is also an adjunct instructor of Jewish studies at Stern College.

Kleiman sat down with YU News just a few weeks before his milestone birthday—which he will celebrate with his beloved congregation at a dinner in his honor at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on January 6—to share his memories of Yeshiva and his thoughts on how American Jewry has weathered, and even flourished, over the past century. Read the rest of this entry…