Sharon Kleinbaum, RRC ’90, rabbi of New York City LGBTQ synagogue, picked to rejoin US religious freedom commission

Originally posted on JTA on Aug. 2, 2021.


Smiling headshot of Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, a 1990 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Collège.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, who has led New York City’s Congregation Beth Simchat Torah since 1992, is one of President Joe Biden’s choices to join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Kleinbaum has previously served on the commission, which monitors religious freedom abroad, according to the Biden administration’s announcement Friday. Biden also announced the appointment of Khizr Khan, who rose to prominence as a moral voice after his son, a U.S. Army captain, was killed in Iraq.

Kleinbaum is known for her advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ and human rights, including in Israel. Her support for the liberal pro-Israel lobby J Street induced a right-wing political action committee to run an ad last year that called her an “antisemite,” drawing condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League and others.

Praise for Kleinbaum poured in after the announcement, including from New York City politicians and from her wife, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

Additional Media Coverage

The American Independent Biden picks lesbian rabbi to serve on panel with anti-LGBTQ agitator Tony Perkins (Aug. 10, 2021)

Washington Blade Biden to nominate LGBTQ synagogue rabbi to religious freedom commission (July 30, 2021)

Haaretz Why Biden Tapped a Pioneering Queer Rabbi to Advise Him on Religious Freedom (Aug. 9, 2021)

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