Society honors exec, and the rest is history
To the leaders of the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey, Max Kleinman is “the ideal recipient” of its 2013 Lasting Impressions Award.
The executive vice president/CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ “is an educated historian and has always been a strong supporter of the Jewish Historical Society and a believer in the need to record our Jewish history for generations to come,” said Howard Kiesel of Short Hills, the immediate past president of JHS.
“More than most, Max understands and appreciates the efforts of the Jewish Historical Society’s role in preserving the history of Greater MetroWest for future generations,” said Linda Forgosh, the society’s executive director.
The award will be presented to Kleinman at a dinner Thursday, June 27, at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston.
Although he feels “privileged to be honored,” Kleinman said, he did impose one condition on the society before agreeing to the award.
“I said I would accept the honor on the condition that it be used as a kickoff for the federation’s 90th anniversary, because the JHS is preparing a major exhibit on the federation’s history.”
The exhibit, “Federation @ 90,” pegged to the 1923 founding by Newark Jewish leaders of the Conference of Jewish Charities, will go on display at the Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany next October.
Kleinman has been part of that history for 17 years, having previously served as executive director of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation and in senior positions in federations based in Atlanta and Milwaukee.
But before he received a master’s degree in social work as a prelude to his career in Jewish communal service, Kleinman was a history major at City College of New York and a graduate student at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
He wrote a master’s thesis on Christian Socialism in America, “based on my interest in Marxism, communism, and socialism,” Kleinman told NJ Jewish News. He completed his doctoral course work and several chapters of a dissertation titled “Portal to the Middle Class: The Jews of City College of New York, 1880-1940.”
“I wanted to go into academia, but there were no jobs,” he explained. “I got recruited to go into the federation field, but I still keep my love of history with me. When I write blogs or speeches I use history to give some context to the subjects I’m discussing. Without that you are basically looking at today’s headlines, but history gives you the perspective of the past and the big picture about where we are heading, because human nature does not change.”
History will definitely play a part in his life when he retires, Kleinman said. “I will want to do other things, but I plan to study history and maybe do some more teaching.”
The federation leader said he has “absolutely no regrets about the path I chose. With history you study what people did. In this job, we do.”