Honoree recalls Jews’ ‘respect for history’

Honoree recalls Jews’ ‘respect for history’

Honored by the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey, Max Kleinman drew a distinction between mere chronology and zachor — the Jewish value of remembrance.

“Remember is a powerful theme in Judaism. Remember that we were slaves in Egypt. We say that at the seder every year,” said Kleinman, the executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Metro

West, speaking June 27 at the historical society’s annual meeting at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston. “This helps explain why Jews have been in the forefront of fighting on civil rights, including Darfur. Zachor. Remember Amalek, who attacked you at your weakest link. That is why we are so concerned about the horrendous anti-Semitism in the Arab world, where the horrible Protocols of the Elders of Zion remains a best seller, and the growing anti-Semitism in parts of Europe.

“That is why we work so tirelessly advocating against a nuclear Iran,” he said. “Zachor is our respect for history, our respect for our ancestors.”

Kleinman, who was trained as a historian before entering Jewish communal service, was the recipient of the society’s 2013 Lasting Impressions Award.

Former JHS president Howard Kiesel presented Kleinman with an historical gift dating back to World War I — a poster for the Central Committee for the Relief of the Jews Suffering Through the War.

In his acceptance speech, Kleinman recognized the federation on its upcoming 90th anniversary “for changing history.

“We’ve helped resettle Holocaust survivors like my parents,” he said. “We advocated for Soviet Jewry and Ethiopian Jewry and then raised billions to resettle them in Israel and the United States. We responded to wars and natural disasters. We met the pressing needs of those affected by economic downturns. We help fund a safety net. We have continual care for the elderly and the developmentally disabled. We provide education for our youth. We build connections with Israel and throughout the world, and so much more.”

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