Rabbi Sharon A. Kleinbaum (’90) Appointed to US Commission on International Religious Freedom

News Release

By U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom December 20, 2019

Rabbi Sharon Klienbaum (

Rabbi Sharon Klienbaum (‘90)

WASHINGTON, DC (December 19, 2019) – Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) today announced the appointment of Rabbi Sharon A. Kleinbaum of New York replacing Andy  Khawaja of California to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

“We welcome the appointment of Rabbi Kleinbaum to USCIRF.” said Chair Tony Perkins. “Rabbi Kleinbaum is a widely recognized leader in both faith and politics, which will make her a great asset in the complex environment in which we advocate for communities and individuals around the world who are discriminated against or persecuted for their beliefs.”  

Rabbi Kleinbaum currently serves as spiritual leader of New York City’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST). She was installed as CBST’s first rabbi in 1992 at the height of the AIDS crisis. A prominent advocate for human rights, Rabbi Kleinbaum is currently a Commissioner on New York City’s Commission on Human Rights and serves on Mayor de Blasio’s Faith Based Advisory Council.

“We’re looking forward to Rabbi Kleinbaum joining the Commission and further amplifying USCIRF’s advocacy for freedom of religion or belief for all,” said Vice Chair Gayle Manchin.   

Rabbi Kleinbaum was named one of the 50 most influential rabbis in America by Newsweek for several years, as well as one of Newsweek’s 150 Women Who Shake the World. She was also named by the Huffington Post as one of the Top 10 Women Religious Leaders and one of the 15 Inspiring LGBT Religious Leaders. AM New York named her one of New York City’s Most Influential Women for Women’s Day and she is a recipient of the Jewish Fund for Justice Woman of Valor Award.

Additionally, Rabbi Kleinbaum has been named one of the country’s top 50 Jewish leaders by the Forward and New York Jewish Week, and one of Forward’s Sisterhood 50 American Influential Rabbis.

She graduated from Barnard College and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, where she was ordained.

Comprised of nine commissioners, USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal body that is principally responsible for reviewing the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and making policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress. The President and leadership of both political parties in the Senate and House of Representatives appoint USCIRF Commissioners.  




The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or 202.523.3240.

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