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Finding Aid for the Rabbi Isaac Klein Papers, 1925-1979

MS 149

State University of New York at Buffalo. University Archives

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
United States
Phone: 716-645-2916
Fax: 716-645-3714
Email: lib-archives@buffalo.edu
URI: http://library.buffalo.edu/archives

Finding aid prepared by staff of the State University of New York College at Buffalo (Buffalo State) Archives.
Finding aid encoded in EAD by Mark McGuire, December 2006.
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid prepared using local best practices.

Please use the following URL when citing this document:

© 2005. State University of New York at Buffalo. All rights reserved.

Collection Overview

Title: Rabbi Isaac Klein Papers, 1925-1979
Creator: Klein, Isaac
Extent: 18 linear feet (13 cartons, 1 manuscript box, 1 custom box)
Language of Material: Collection material in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Repository: State University of New York at Buffalo. University Archives
Abstract: Collection of Rabbi Isaac Klein includes school notebooks, correspondence, photographs, military service records, speeches, articles, manuscripts, and other writings relating to his life and teachings in conservative Judaism.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Description and dates], Box/folder number, MS 149, Rabbi Isaac Klein Papers 1925-1979, University Archives, The State University of New York at Buffalo.

See the Archives' preferred citations instructions for additional information.

Acquisition Information

The collection, as well as the larger Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo Collection, was transferred from State University of New York College at Buffalo (Buffalo State) Archives in 2006 by the Jewish Federation of Western New York.

Terms of Access

Rabbi Isaac Klein Papers, 1925-1979 are open for research.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Processing Information

Processed by staff of the State University of New York College at Buffalo (Buffalo State) Archives.

Accruals and Additions

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Biographical Note

Rabbi Isaac Klein was born in a village in Czechoslovakia on September 8, 1905. He migrated to the United States in 1920, determined to further his already considerable Judaic education. This brought him eventually to the Isaac Elchanan Yeshiva (now part of Yeshiva University). Meanwhile he completed high school and received his bachelor's degree from the City 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 movement.

Rabbi-Klein died in Los Angeles on January 23, 1979 and was buried in Buffalo, New York.

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.


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
IV. Rabbinical Assembly
V. Religious Matters
VI. Temple Emanuel

Container List

Box-folder Contents
1.1 Biographical information, 1925-1976
1.2 Undated biographical info
1.3-1.4 News clippings, 1950s-1979
1.5 Photographs, including family
1.6 Letters received after Klein's death (January 23, 1979)
1.7 Family material
1.8 Miscellaneous items
1.25 Offers of other positions - Jewish Theological Seminary, 1958
1.26 Rabbinical positions sought, including agreement with Kodimah, Springfield, 1934-1952
15.1 Photographs, Rabbi Klein
15.2 Photographs, Military
15.3-15.5 Photographs, Family
15.6 Photographs, World War II
15.7 Photographs, 1946-1949, War photos and later
15.8 Photographs, 1950-1959
15.9 Photographs, 1956-1959, Springfield, Massachusetts
15.10 Photographs, 1960-1969,Buffalo, New York
15.11 Photographs/Military, Mitchell Field, New York
15.12 Correspondence, Military
15.13 Clippings/Dated, in Hebrew
15.14-15.15 Clippings, 1940-1949
15.16 Correspondence, Civilian
15.17-15.22 Clippings, 1950-1974, undated
15.23 Photo album
15.24 Wedding photograph
15.25-15.26 Scrapbooks
Box-folder Contents
1.29-1.32 Personal Correspondence, 1934-1936, 1937-1939, 1940-1953
2.23 Correspondence -- Rabbi Neil Gillman, Guide
2.24 Correspondence -- Mordecai M. Kaplan, 1959
2.25 Correspondence -- Re: Guide
2.26 Correspondence -- Dr. Louis Finkelstein Jewish Theological Seminary Pastoral letters 1960s
2.27 Correspondence -- Buffalo Years, 1953-1973, undated
2.28 Correspondence -- Buffalo Years, 1953-1959
3.1-3.3 Correspondence -- Buffalo Years, 1960-1973
3.4 Correspondence -- Professor Leon Nemoy, Dropsie College 1970
3.5 Correspondence -- Post retirement, 1974-1979
Box-folder Contents
2.1-2.14 Class notebooks [14]
2.15-2.16 Class notes, 1932-1933
1.9 Masters thesis, Massachusetts State College, 1937
1.10 Student days Jewish Theological Seminary - Jewish subjects
1.11 Student days Jewish Theological Seminary - Secular subjects
1.12-1.13 Student days Jewish Theological Seminary - Miscellaneous papers submitted
1.14 Correspondence with Jewish Theological Seminary, 1935-1940
1.15 Introduction to course by Louis Ginzberg (Jewish Theological Seminary)
1.16 Torah Convocation Scrapbook, 1959
1.17 Correspondence with Louis Ginzberg, 1930s
1.18 Correspondence - Hattarat Horaah
1.19 Correspondence - Ph.D. Harvard
1.20 Activities, 1945-1948 (includes booklet)
Box-folder Contents
1.21 Correspondence regarding Publications
1.22 Publications: Printed reviews
1.23 Local speeches, 1960s
1.24 Out-of-town speeches, 1960s
1.27 Correspondence regarding A Time to be Born (USY Sourcebook, 1977)
1.28 Visit to Argentina, 1964
1.33 Move to Buffalo, 1953
1.34 Michael Arm, 1958-1962
1.35 College Material, 1950s-1960s
2.17 Manuscript material from Rabbi Klein's first book, The Ten Commandments in a Changing World, 1942
2.18-2.20 Partial manuscript of book published in 1974
2.21-2.22 Typed manuscript (partial) Guide to Jewish Practices; published posthumously
Box-folder Contents
3.6 Correspondence as Vice-President/President, 1956-1960
3.7 Prepared messages as President, 1958-1960
3.8 Pastoral letters as President, circa 1958-1960
3.9 Executive Committee Minutes, 1949-1972
3.10 Law Committee Dated items, 1949-1978
3.11-3.12 Response of Law Committee, undated
3.13 Law Committee, 1937-1976
3.14-3.18 Minutes of Meetings - Law Committee, 1937-1978
3.19 Program notes on various religious rites
3.20 Miscellaneous material
3.21 Philosophy of the Conservative Movement Material, 1950s
3.22 Installation of Rabbis, including I. Klein
Box-folder Contents
3.23 Material on function of the synagogue, includes notes by Klein
3.24 Scattered notes regarding Conduct of High Holyday Services
4.1 Bulletins Kodimoh Springfield, Massachusetts, 1935-1938
4.2 Kodimoh Synagogue Program Materials Springfield, Massachusetts, 1935-1941
4.3 Men's Clubs Affairs Springfield/Buffalo, 1940-1950s
4.4-4.5 Addresses Springfield, Massachusetts, 1934-1953
4.6-4.7 Radio Addresses, 1938-1947
4.8-4.9 Addresses: Buffalo and elsewhere, 1950s-1970s
4.10 Charles S. Gudowitz Cantor, 1930-1968
4.11 Material collected by Isaac Klein for Shaarey Zedek Bulletin
4.12 Tenure (life) received by I. Klein, 1955
4.29 Manuscript of translation of Maimonides' Book of Acquisitions
4.30 Manuscript material on translation of Maimonides' Book of Acquisition
4.31 Jewish Life and Practices, Notes and Draft
5.1 "Goodwill Sermons" Springfield, Massachusetts
5.2 Address to Cantors Assembly, 1960s
5.3 Wedding sermons, Buffalo/Springfield
5.4 Eulogies
5.5 Article written for Encyclopedia Judaica, 1969
5.6-5.9 Speeches, sermons, miscellaneous topics English
5.10-5.13 Speeches, sermons, miscellaneous topics, English/Yiddish; includes manuscript notes
5.14 Science and ethics, the Jewish View
5.15 Views on abortion
5.16 Adoption: Jewish law; I. K. notes
5.17 Artificial insemination
5.18 Autopsy: Are they permitted under Jewish law?; Klein opinion plus others
5.19 Civil Marriage/Jewish view; law Some material by Klein
5.20 Euthanasia File and opinion
5.21 Handicapped (deaf) and Jewish law
5.22 Transplants and Jewish law
5.23 Radicalism and religion Arbeiter Ring material (Yiddish), 1938
5.24 Women Position under Jewish law
5.25 Miscellaneous topics under law and/or theology
5.26 Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galuyot [second day of festivals], late 1960s
5.27 Revised Ketubah Material [in which Klein was involved]
5.28 Conservative approach to Jewish law Articles by others
5.29 Scope/limit of Takkanah [Special decrees of Rabbis]; includes writings by Klein
5.30 Problem of AGUNAH
5.31 Vatican Council II, 1960s; includes notes by Klein
5.32 Observance of the Sabbath The Conservative View
5.33 Use of the organ in Jewish worship
5.34 Triennial cycle for reading of the Torah
5.35 Prayer revision
5.36 Kashrut problem Miscellaneous material
5.37-5.38 Kashrut matters correspondence, 1949-1972
6.1 Kashrut problem Correspondence, 1972-1977
6.2 Kashrut of gelatin Correspondence/various opinions/commercial adv.
6.3 Halakhic matters inv. Kashrut, 1941-1977
6.4 Halakhic [Orthodox] Notes and news clippings
6.5 Halakhic matters not involving Kashrut, undated correspondence and responses by Klein
6.6 Problem of Halitsah today
6.7 Miscellaneous material in English/Yiddish Probably written by Klein
6.8 Pesach Shevuoth and Succoth sermons and materials, Confirmation material
6.9 Roman Law Responsa Prudentuem, circa early 1960s
6.10 Remarks on Israel and Jerusalem
6.11 Function of a rabbi Printed material from other sources
6.12 Remarks on the sexual revolution of the 1960s, 1965
6.13 Sermons for Selichos and the Sabbath of Repentance
6.14 Yom Kippur Sermons & Sermon notes, 1934-1970s
6.15 Rosh Hashana Sermons, 1930s-1970s
6.16 Purim Materials & Sermons
[note: folder contains fragile materials]
6.17 Chanukah Material & correspondence
6.18 Course Material on Judaism, probably prepared for Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) Education Department, 1938
6.19 Course material prepared for teaching at JTS
6.20 Classroom notes of Rabbi Klein for course on Medieval Jewish History
6.21 Controversy over Kashrut of sturgeon and swordfish which centered about Rabbi Klein
6.22 Notes on structure of the liturgy
6.23-6.27 High Holyday sermons Bound, 1939-1973
7.1-7.6 Course material Jewish Life and Practice given by Klein at Jewish Theological Seminary
7.5-7.11 Sermons and related material by other rabbis
7.12-7.13 Rabbinical assembly High Holy Day Seminars, 1961-1976
7.14 Photostat material on various subjects mainly Jewish Medieval Literature
7.15 Sermonic clippings from London Jewish Chronicle
7.16 Miscellaneous Jewish educational material
7.17 Collection of prayers for various occasions; Some by Klein
7.18 Material/regulations for Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations
7.19 Thanksgiving Day sermons by IK; programs and materials
7.20 Sermons by IK, also sermonic materials on the Ethics of the Fathers
8.1 Sermon material, Shabbat Hagodal and Pesach
8.2 Laws and procedures for Mechirat Hometz [Passover]
8.3 Material on National Sabbath Observance effort
8.4 Material on the revitalization of the Sabbath (Conservative)
8.5-8.6 SCHECHTAH Jewish ritual slaughter of animals - and the attempt to outlaw it in New York in 1960s
8.7 Yom Ha-Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day
8.8 Zionist activities
8.9-8.10 Religious school plays for various festivals
8.11-8.13 Programs for Jewish education and religious festivals
8.14-8.15 Circumcision
8.16-8.17 Certificates of conversion
8.18 Material on conversion to Judaism, some written by Klein
8.19 Conversion to Judaism Correspondence, 1943-1976
8.20-8.21 Marriage
8.22 Inter-marriage
8.23-8.27 Divorce matters, 1935-1978
8.28-8.29 Death and mourning
8.30 Material relating to Klein teaching in Philosophy Department at University of Buffalo, 1955-1958
8.31 Translation, Book of Acquisition
9.1 Book reviews written by Klein, 1938-1974
9.2 Radio talks, Springfield, Eve of WWII
9.3-9.7 Experiences as Chaplain in WWII
9.8 Sermons, 1941-1945
9.9-9.13 Wartime letters to his family
9.14-9.16 Mission to Germany, 1949-1950
9.17-9.20 Clippings in English
9.21-9.22 News clippings, Yiddish and Hebrew
9.23 Printed material on postwar Germany
9.24 Torah Convocations held by Klein, and JWB (Jewish Chaplains Council)/Government of Bermuda,
9.25 Mission to Hungary, Fall 1956
9.26 Trip to Europe, Bermuda, 1959
9.27 Notebook, Lecture notes on Islam and the Moslem world
10.1 Small books in Hebrew
10.2-10.5 4 index boxes of notes prepared by I. Klein; a set of notes on Jewish liturgy and Jewish Medieval History for courses given at Jewish Theological Seminary
11.1-11.2 Medical Ethics
11.3 Jewish Matters, miscellaneous publications other than Klein
11.4 From Philo to Spinoza, Probably an outline of a course given in the evening session of UB 1950s
11.5 The Anguish and the Ecstasy. Fragment of materials
11.6 The Anguish and the Ecstasy: Memoirs of a Jewish Chaplain, August 1942-January 1946; Typed copy, some autograph sections
11.7 Manuscript of Klein's Laws of Jewish divorce
11.8 Box, Hebrew notes on Ethics of the Fathers by Klein
11.9 Box, 3 x 5 cards in Hebrew on various names and subjects
11.10 News clippings on Klein, 1953-1979
12 Jewish divorces given or held by Klein (Hebrew documents and English translation); also includes note cards and two cassette tapes created during the translation of said records.
13.1 Bound corrected typed copy: Sefer Kinyan, Book XII of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, Introduction, translation, and commentary
13.2-13.6 Weekly Saturday morning talks and sermons
14 Index cards by Isaac Klein with notes on various subjects
Box-folder Contents
4.13 Temple Emanuel Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1950s-1960s
4.14 Temple Emanuel Value of Colvin Ave. Sanctuary
4.15 Temple Emanuel correspondence/publicity Re: Adult Institute
4.16 Temple Emanuel Annual Reports, 1950s-1970s
4.17 Temple Emanuel Graduation/Confirmation programs, 1953-1965
4.18 Abortive move to merge Temples Emanuel - Beth El, 1964
4.19 Temple Emanuel Sisterhood Sabbaths
4.20 Temple Emanuel Staff Meetings Minutes, 1954-1963
4.21 Material concerning youth training, 1960s
4.22 Temple Emanuel Religious Committee, 1961-1972
4.23 Temple Emanuel/Shaarey Zedek Religious School, 1961-1973
4.24 Merger: Temple Emanuel/Beth David Ner Israel to form Temple Shaarey Zedek, 1967-1968
4.25 Dedication of Shaarey Zedek - Tentative programs, 1970; includes dedications in Springfield/Buffalo
4.26 Search for replacement, 1972-1973
4.27-4.28 Temple Emanuel Shofar Kol Shaarey Zedek, 1966-1973

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Library's online catalog:


Klein, Isaac
State University of New York at Buffalo. University Archives

Subject Terms

Conservative Judaism
Jewish law
Judaism--Customs and Practice
Klein, Isaac
State University of New York at Buffalo--Archives
World War, 1935-1945--Chaplains
World War, 1935-1945--Personal narratives

Genre Terms


Associated Material

Related Resources

Related Resources in the University Archives

MS 206 , American Jewish Committee Buffalo/Niagara Chapter, 1977-2008 (bulk 1985-2007)
MS 203 , Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo, 1933-2009
MS 9 , David Diamond Papers, 1925-1998
MS 150.1 , Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Records of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, 1902-1979
MS 150.2 , Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Selig Adler Papers, 1932-1988
MS 150.3 , Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Local Jewish Community Records, 1844-1976
MS 150.4 , Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Papers of Prominent Local Jews, 1912-1988
MS 150.5 , Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Synagogue Records, 1884-1986
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MS 225 , Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, circa 1970-2009
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MS 106 , Joseph Manch Papers, 1922-1988
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MS 149 , Rabbi Isaac Klein Papers, 1925-1979
22/6F/204 , Selig Adler Papers, Part I, 1909-1984
22/6F/358 , Selig Adler Papers, Part II, 1928-1985
MS 201 , Westwood Country Club Records, 1945-1995
Adler, Selig and Thomas E. Connelly. From Ararat to Suburbia: The History of the Jewish Community of Buffalo. Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1960. Available in Lockwood Library and the University Archives (non-circulating), F129 B8 A38
Archives 9/7/00-3, Jewish Life (Buffalo, N.Y.), University Archives Periodical Collection

Related Online Resources

Jewish Buffalo Image Collection , New York Heritage Digital Collections

Related Resources in the University Libraries

A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1979, Lockwood BM 700 K54
The Anguish and the Ecstasy of a Jewish Chaplain, Vintage Press, 1974, Lockwood D 811.5 K64
Responsa and Halakhic Studies, Ktav Publishing House, 1975, Law ISR 03 K54

Related Resources outside the University

Isaac Klein Papers (Microfilm) , Joseph and Miriam Ratner Center for the Study of Conservative Judaism, Jewish Theological Seminary
Isaac Klein Oral History Interview , Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem