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Gala 2018 Online Journal

A Message from Andrea & Steve Davis – Gala Co-Chairs

It is our great honor and privilege to Co-Chair this year’s Gala honoring Betty and Rabbi Klein for their 40 years of devotion to and love for the Merrick Jewish Centre, its congregants and the Jewish people.

Rabbi and Betty have connected with all of us on so many levels – as spiritual leaders, as advisors, as an inspiration to us to lead lives Jewishly with the Merrick Jewish Centre as a central part of our lives, and, most importantly, as our friends.

Each of Rabbi’s sermons speaks to us personally – his relation of the holy text to everyday issues offers us a method to confront life’s concerns and become better Jews.

Rabbi Klein’s life of commitment to our beloved synagogue, his personal interest in all of us and dedication to our well-being has been an inspiration to his congregants.

We are always amazed at Rabbi Klein’s ability to find the right words, speak the perfect phrase and express his point of view so masterfully. His sense of humor is remarkable.

We thank Betty for her willingness to share Rabbi on those many occasions when he was called away to be at our sides during times of need. We thank her also for her friendship with our congregation and leadership roles in many of our most important programs. 

As a past president, Steve has benefited tremendously from working closely with Rabbi and Betty. Rabbi Klein’s tireless work in our behalf, always giving more of himself while at the same time asking more of us to become better Jews . 

We are blessed to have Betty and Rabbi as our spiritual leaders. We wish them a lifetime of good health, happiness and love.

A Message from Rabbi & Betty Klein

Dear Andrea and Steve,

It was over a year ago that you approached us with the suggestion that this year’s gala be a celebration of our 40 years at the Merrick Jewish Centre.  For us, this gala evening is our opportunity to celebrate more than our having reached this extraordinary milestone - it is a moment for all of us to take pride in our shared accomplishments and to rejoice in the very special journey we have taken together. For 40 years we have treasured the opportunity we have been given to be a part of this community. Our lives have been shared with a very large and embracing congregational family. We are grateful for all the experiences and shared moments that bind us together.

Andrea and Steve, you have put your hearts into making this an evening we will long remember. We will cherish the memories of this gala and we will ways be inexpressively appreciative for your friendship and devotion. The two of you assembled a wonderful Gala Committee. We know well how much energy and dedication they brought to planning this event. And so to each one of you goes our heartfelt gratitude for giving us this beautiful memory.

We’re not certain that time will allow us to personally thank everyone in attendance - but from our hearts to you – thank you for tonight and for the indispensable roles you have played in our lives and in the Merrick Jewish Centre.

With love,

Charlie and Betty

A Message From Rabbi Jack Dermer

“If all the heavens were parchment, and all the trees were quills, and all the seas were ink, it would still be impossible for me to write down even a small part of all that I learned from my teacher.”

This Talmudic quote, composed by Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai in praise of his mentor, the legendary Hillel the Elder, captures a deep truth alongside its beauty. While certainly much can be learned from books, infinitely more is to be gained in the presence of dedicated leaders and teachers.

We are blessed as a community to be led by two such exemplars, Rabbi and Betty Klein. Their deep love for our tradition and our MJC family are evident to all who know them, and I can only imagine how many lives they have touched for the better over the course of these 40 years. 

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to begin my career alongside Rabbi and Betty. From the first Shabbat meal we shared together, I’ve looked toward them as Jewish role models; knowledgeable and relatable, welcoming, and thoughtful about the future of our people. With each passing week, I learn more about the profound impact they have made in our community throughout the decades. I hear stories of b’nei mitzvah, weddings, and events long since passed, but forever remembered, because of the meaning Rabbi and Betty brought to the moment. I am humbled by their lifelong dedication, and proud to share in their holy work.

At the end of each book of Torah, we chant a blessing of enduring strength and success, chazak chazak v’nitchazek. With admiration for Rabbi and Betty Klein’s 40 years of service to our community, may they continue to strengthen us, and may their devotion inspire us to continually strengthen each other.

A Message from Rabbi Avi Weiss

October 19, 2018

What a pleasure to write a few words about my dear friend, Rabbi Charles Klein, and his dear wife Betty. I go back with Charlie to the Soviet Jewry days, when we were arrested taking over the TASS News Agency.  It was a dangerous moment, and I was taken by Charlie’s calmness and his ability to articulate with passion the plight of Soviet Jewry to the press in the most difficult of circumstances.

But for me, what stands out most is that Charlie walks the walk of tzedaka u’mishpat. His rabbinate is a rabbinate of love of Judaism and recognition that our ritual and responsibility to others is suffused with kedusha.

Together with Betty, Rabbi Klein has shepherded your congregation in extraordinary ways. He has served as a paragon for others to emulate.

I join you in the blessing that your revered Rabbi and Rabbanit together with their family, know life and health and fulfillment for many years to come – and may your congregation, building on your rabbi’s leadership, reach higher and higher, impacting Am Yisrael and changing the world.

With blessings,

Avi Weiss

A Message From Howard Segal – President of MJC

Dear Friends and Fellow Congregants:

What a magnificent evening this is in the illustrious history of the Merrick Jewish Centre. How fortunate have all of the members of this congregation been to have both Betty & Rabbi Charles Klein as part of their lives for forty years?

As I read through the beautifully worded journal tributes that were written in honor of Betty and Rabbi there were many collective thoughts that were conveyed to both of them which contained numerous common themes. Many of the tributes emphasized Rabbi Klein’s unwavering lifelong dedication and commitment to the Merrick Jewish Centre, and our entire community. The tributes also marveled at Rabbi’s leadership and guidance as a spiritual leader, being there for everyone, to celebrate in good times and to console in sad times. However, the theme mentioned most often, and probably most importantly, was the friendship and love he has shown to congregants and their families over the forty years as their Rabbi. Many also mentioned how inspirational and inspiring each and every sermon delivered by Rabbi over the years has been to them and how each one has influenced and touched their lives.

The tributes also expressed their gratitude to Betty for sharing her husband with the Merrick Jewish Centre during their lifetime journey. It truly takes a special woman to live the life as the wife of a pulpit Rabbi who is extremely devoted to his congregation, which undoubtedly comes with its scheduling complexities and challenges. Thank you Betty!

Knowing Betty and Rabbi for close to twenty of their forty years here at the MJC, I certainly echo all of the thoughts and words of our congregants and all who expressed their love and appreciation to the two of them.

I have personally worked hand in hand with Rabbi Klein for the past sixteen years as an officer of the Merrick Jewish Centre, and now as its president. I have also had the privilege to sit on the bimah next to Rabbi for just about all of those years. There are many great seats available in our city: 50 yard line seats at Met Life Stadium, courtside seats at Madison Square Garden, orchestra seats at Lincoln Center, but I would not trade my seat on the MJC bimah for any of those. We have a great time chatting, joking and strategizing. We even do a little davening and singing once in a while!

There is no doubt that The Merrick Jewish Centre is what it is today because of Rabbi Klein. He has often commented to me that this is his “life’s work” and because of that he has always been proud of his synagogue and his congregants. He has given so much to all of us over the past forty years, and surely deserves all of the accolades and thanks that are being bestowed upon him at this wonderful event marking a special milestone.

I wish both Betty & Rabbi many more years of health and happiness so they can both continue to be there for all of us who love and respect them dearly.

A Message from Heléna Eilenberg – Education Director

From Pirke Avot, Chapter II:13

He posed this question to his disciples: Look about you and tell me, which is the way in life to which one should cleave?

Rabbi Eliezer said: a generous eye.

Rabbi Yehoshua said: a good colleague.

Rabbi Yose said: a good neighbor.

Rabbi Elazar said: a generous heart.

Said he to them: I prefer the answer of Rabbi Elazar, for his view includes all of yours.

Rabbi Elazar did not know that he was speaking of Rabbi Charles and Betty Klein.

I am so fortunate to have the honor to work with Rabbi Charles Klein and get to know Betty Klein, two people who have such generous hearts. Their support, collegiality, and friendship have enhanced and enriched my experience at the Merrick Jewish Centre.

A generous eye: Rabbi Klein has been incredibly supportive of new ideas and programs, encouraging innovation and new educational approaches. He continues to cultivate an open dialogue, with   suggestions that are always so on target that I wonder why I had not considered them before. Rabbi Klein may not always agree with me, but his willingness to see how things develop and his openness to new visions have provided me with both a diving board from which I can jump and a life raft if I need one.

A good colleague: I feel truly blessed to be a part of a team that supports each other, reflects on what is good, and strives to better what is not. Rabbi Klein’s leadership and Betty’s consistent support make each new step not only possible but encouraged.

A good neighbor: When I first arrived at the Merrick Jewish Centre over nine years ago and met Rabbi Klein, he was so warm and welcoming. He and Betty had already been at the Merrick Jewish Centre for 30 years, yet with Rabbi Klein’s energy and his willingness to search for new and exciting and ventures, I would have thought that he was at the height of only his first decade in Merrick. As good neighbors he and Betty are there to help put out any fires before they spread, and keep an eye on the place as needed!

A generous heart: This includes all of the above. Each trait is important on its own yet becomes even stronger as part of a whole. The warm, welcoming, and charitable environment congregants find at the synagogue begins and ends with Rabbi Charles and Betty Klein. Their generosity of spirit extends throughout the community and makes it a true joy to be a part of the Merrick Jewish Centre.

Thank you Rabbi Charles and Betty Klein for making the Merrick Jewish Centre my home away from home and a place to grow with ever-present support and exciting vision for the future.

Todah Rabah!

A Message from Jamey Kohn – Administrative Director

Dear Rabbi & Betty,

It has been an honor to work with you these past eight years.  Your insightfulness, creativity, intelligence, intuition and optimism make everything from the simplest of tasks to the most complex of projects a wonderful success.  When you walk into the room everyone breathes a sigh of relief – all is right with the world.  Rabbi, you have taught me that all it takes is an idea, and then anything can be achieved with planning and the right attitude. Betty, your management, your organization skills, your always calm demeanor are methodical and unerringly effective.  The two of you are indeed the original dynamic duo. 

I can’t imagine that 40 years ago The Merrick Jewish Centre could possibly have realized the treasures they had welcomed into the community.  I have learned so much from you and am looking forward to learning so much more.  I will forever be your student (and probably your typist J).


Jamey Kohn




















Dedication of Fire Truck to Town of Sderot           


60th Anniversary of Israel at Rabin Square


Ready for jeep ride near the Red Sea 2008

The Kleins & The Segals in Israel 2012

Dedication of Rec Center for the IDF 2018

Dedication of trees in 2018

Mission to Israel 2018


Fire truck in Sderot 2011

Farewell dinner with Cohens & Amir 2018

Archaeological dig in Israel

Camel ride in Israel 

Kleins and Sussmans in Budapest

First dinner honoring The Kleins 1987

Caliber 3 Counterterrorism Training 2018

Florida Reunion 1995

Visit to Cuba 2015

Cuban classic car 2015

Book signing 1994

Dinner Cruise on the river in Budapest 2013

Holocaust Memorial in Berlin 2013


In front of a piece of the Berlin Wall 2013

Finkle Award - Rabbi of the Year 2001

Dining in Eastern Europe 2005

Kleins and Sussmans in Eastern Europe 2005

At the Skop Gala 2006

Kleins and Charlie Skop 2006

Kleins at an event 2006

Visiting Masada 2007

Enjoying Israel 2007

Mission to Israel 2007

Mission to Eastern Europe 2013

Dedication of IDF Recreation Center 2011