Elizabeth Ebner: Hi Rabbi, thanks for taking the time for this interview. First up, where are you from?
Rabbi Kleinman: I’m from Israel, but I was born in Denmark. When I was five years old we went to Finland for two years, then after that to Slovakia for four years. So I’m from around the world, but my heart is from Israel.
EE: Wow. Do you still have family in Israel?
RK: Yes, all my family is there. I’m just here with my wife and my four children.
EE: When did you move here?
RK: We came last summer. I’ve just been here for ten months on shlichut.
EE: So why did you move to Florida?
RK: This is a good question. I ask myself this every day. My answer is I came to teach Torah. I’m a shaliach from the World Zionist Organization. I believe it’s so important to teach Torah all over the world, and I’m very lucky and happy that Hebrew Academy let me help and teach Torah.
EE: Do you still miss Israel sometimes?
RK: Sometimes? I miss it every day, every moment. Yes, I miss it, but now I am here. I think every day about Israel, but sometimes we need to go to Chutz La’aretz for something important, like Limud Torah.
EE: Have you always been teaching?
RK: No, it’s something new for me. I think I’ve done teaching for six years. Before that, I worked in the city of David. I was a manager in the tourist state. I worked in education, but in a class, it’s been just six years.
EE: Which classes do you teach?
RK: I teach 9th, 10th, and 11th grade, but I taught the seniors in the first semester, too.
EE: How have you enjoyed teaching here at Hebrew Academy?
RK: First, I hope that I am actually teaching- that somebody is listening to me in the class. I like it. It’s very different from Israel. I think that we have something that connects us together in the Torah, so I really like to teach, to see different parts of the Torah, Halacha, Parshat Hashavua. I like the questions that the students ask me. I have a good time here.
EE: You mentioned earlier that you have four kids. How old are they? Tell me about them.
RK: Everybody can see them in the High School after the day ends.
EE: High-fiving all of us.
RK: I have Elazar in fifth grade, Omer in fourth grade, Batya in first grade, and a small baby Sinai who is two years old.
EE: What are some of the hobbies that you do in your free time?
RK: I like to learn, I like to listen to some podcasts, and of course traveling with my family, being with friends, like everybody does. Now, this year, I like to travel a lot here in Florida.
EE: Great. Do you have a favorite movie?
RK: Yes, the Old Indiana Jones Series.
EE: What are your plans for this summer?
RK: To relax, relax, relax. And it will be the first time we send my children to summer camp in California, so after the summer camp, we want to travel. We want to come with new power for the next year.
EE: Last question, what’s something you want to tell your students? RK: Don’t forget Deretz Eretz Kadma LaTorah. And I know it’s very hard to come to the class and learn Torah, but I think that if you know what the goal is, to be better people and Jews, maybe it can help us learn.
EE: Perfect, thank you so much.
By: Elizabeth Ebner (9th)