(New York Jewish Week) — Sharon Kleinbaum, the first full-time rabbi of Manhattan’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, announced that she is stepping down after three decades leading New York’s influential LGBTQ+ synagogue.
In an announcement to congregants, Kleinbaum, 63, said that “this is the right time to make room for a new senior rabbi for CBST.”
“CBST is in a strong place for the next chapter, and I am confident in our future,” she wrote. “CBST is a place of deep spirituality and a center of activism rooted in Jewish values, texts and justice. It will be spiritually meaningful for CBST to discover who it is without me as the senior rabbi and for me to discover who I am apart from CBST.”
Kleinbaum, who plans to leave her post next summer, wrote that her official departure is “many months” away.
A New Jersey native, Kleinbaum was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and came to the unaffiliated CBST in 1992. The synagogue, incorporated in 1973, had been meeting in Greenwich Village, and decided to hire a full-time rabbi at what was the height of the AIDS crisis and when the need for pastoral care was urgent. Soon after, more than 2,000 people attended CBST’s Yom Kippur services at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, at the time the largest-ever gathering of lesbian and gay Jews. That number has since grown to over 3,000 people annually.
In 2016, CBST moved into a new home on the ground floor of 130 West 30th Street, an 18-story building between 6th and 7th Avenues.
During her tenure, Kleinbaum has steered the synagogue’s activism in LGBTQ+ issues and beyond. In 1995, she and other activists successfully pushed for a resolution seeking support for civil marriage for gay couples that was approved by the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis in 1996. She regularly weighs in on municipal issues, including immigration, paid sick leave for workers and policing policies.
At the same time, CBST expanded its children’s programming, with a Hebrew school, children’s services and educational programming.
Kleinbaum is a supporter of the liberal pro-Israel lobby J Street; in 2020 a right-wing political action denounced her in an ad calling her an “antisemite,” drawing condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League and others.
Kleinbaum, who regularly makes lists of the country’s top rabbis and religious leaders, was also a co-founder, in 2020, of New York Jewish Agenda, a progressive advocacy group.
NYJA “arose from a sense that there is a Jewish voice that exists widely throughout New York, but that is uncoordinated,” she said at the time. “The mainstream liberal Jewish voice is not getting out into the public square in the way that it should.”
In 2021, she was named by President Joe Biden to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
In 2018 she married Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. The rabbi and the union leader appear to enjoy their role as a progressive power couple: After former Trump administration official Mike Pompeo called Weingarten “the most dangerous person in the world” in November, Kleinbaum was photographed in a T-shirt reading, “I am proud to be married to the most dangerous person in the world.”
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Focus group Oct. 11 at Simkin Centre for people concerned about personal care homes
As Manitobans have gone to the polls and with a new legislative assembly about to begin a new four-year term, the challenges of long-term and continuing care homes need to be communicated.
MARCHE, the Manitoba Association of Residential and Community Care Homes for the Elderly will be holding a focus group on Wednesday, October 11 that is intended to provide the community at large a forum to express thoughts and provide ideas and recommendations for the future.
Please join us on Wednesday, October 11th at the Saul & Claribel Simkin Centre. We look forward to hearing from you.
See poster below for more information and how to register to attend.
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)