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Rabbi Dr. Hillel HaKohen Klein

December 4th, 2007 · 34 Comments

Rabbi Dr. Hillel HaKohen Klein

הלל ב"ר זאב צבי הכהן

Rav, Congregation Ohab Zedek (OZ), Upper West Side

Date of Death: Sun. March 21, 1926 - Nissan 6 5686

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Cemetery Details

Directions to Kever: The Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York maintains detailed burial records and will provide assistance upon request. Location: Enter from Ocean Parkway service road between Avenue J and K, left on Hyacinth Avenue, right on Lotus Avenue to marker 96, around 300 feet.

Name Listed on Cemetery Database: Philip Klein

Biographical Notes:

Photo Caption: Rabbi Dr. Hillel Klein, Credit:  Nancy Klein, Yonkers, NY

Credit: Chaim Steinberger

Source: New York Times

Bio Information:
Rav Klein was one of the most influential Rabbanim in prewar America. In addition, he was a member of Chief Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Joseph’s Bias Din(Rabbinical Court).
At the time of his death, Rav Klein was the honorary president of the Agudas Ha-Rabbonim, president of the newly formed Agudath Israel of America, treasurer of the Ezras Torah fund, and Nasi of Kolel Shomrei Hachomos in Jerusalem.
Although a member of all these organizations Rav Klein once remarked: “there is but one title that I bear with a conscious pride, and that is Hillel HaKohen”.

Credit: IFJCAH

Credit: IFJCAH

Credit: IFJCAH

Credit: IFJCAH

Tags: Brooklyn / S.I., NY · New York · Washington Cemetery (Brooklyn)

34 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Miller // Mar 25, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    In preperation of the upcoming “Kiddush Hachama” someone found the following article of the NY Times back in 1897 with a report on a fued in Tompkins Sqare in NY City.

    Two Rabbis are mentioned leading the ceremonies, Rabbi Klien and Rabbi Wechsler, can anyone verify if this is Rabbi Hillel Klien and who was Rabbi Wechsler?

  • 2 Baruch A. // Mar 25, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    While it’s hard to say for sure, it does mention that Rabbi Klein was from the East Side and Rav Hillel Klein was living on the East Side at that time. I emailed the Rav’s granddaughter hopefully she will confirm, I’ll keep you posted.
    Thank you,

  • 3 D. Klein // Apr 2, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    I am a great-grandson of Rav Hillel Klein. The recent online circulation of the 1897 Birkas Hachama story created a stir in my family because it did not give Rabbi Klein’s first name, but the circumstances fit his description. We can now confirm that this was in fact my ancestor; the current rabbi of Ohab Zedek in Manhattan, the congregation once served by Rabbi Klein (and which was located in the Lower East Side in 1897), has told a family member that they have the story on record.

    As for Rabbi Wechsler, the other figure mentioned in the 1897 story, he has been identified as R. Moshe (Morris) Wechsler (1882-1919), likewise a Hungarian-born rabbi in New York.

  • 4 moisheleh // Sep 1, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    mr klein, can i have ur email address so i can find out some more about ur grandfather?

  • 5 YD Miller // Sep 2, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Rav Dr. Klien was an assistant Rabbi to the Rav Hakolel RJJ.

  • 6 Dan Klein // Dec 8, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Moishele, sorry it took me a while to see your posting. You can contact me at But the most complete source of info on Rabbi Klein is in “Heritage of Faith: Two Pioneers of Judaism in America,” by Nancy I. Klein (my mother).

  • 7 Asher // Dec 29, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Why did he sign his name as Dr Klein

  • 8 curios // Dec 30, 2009 at 3:30 am

    Probably because he had some sort of degree. Not an uncommon thing in those days.

  • 9 Joe // Feb 4, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    For an interesting article on this extraordinary person, see:

  • 10 YD Miller // Feb 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Just found a Hesped (Euology) on Rabbi Dr. Klein which was delivered by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Eckstien of Cleveland OH, in the Eitz Chaim Hungarin Shul in NY.

    It was printed by Rabbi Ecstien, in only 50 examples, the one scanned on was given to Rabbi Pinches Kurlander of NY, by the author ass seen handwritten on the front page.

    On a diffrent note, Rabbi Eckstien was an Hungarian born Rabbi who was Niftar in Cleveland where he served as the Rabbi of Cong. Bnie Yaakov in 1946, anyone with more info.?

  • 11 Farshlufen // Feb 17, 2010 at 9:34 am

    YD, Rabbi Eckstein was niftar here in Ny on April 11 1946 – י’ ניסן תש”ו
    See Here:,2656131&dq=rabbi+emanuel+eckstein&hl=en

  • 12 Farshlufen // Feb 17, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    A catalog of the 15,000 books in rabbi eckstein’s library:

  • 13 Farshlufen // Feb 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Rabbi Eckstein came from Sighet Marmorosh, see here:

  • 14 eretzhagar // Jun 1, 2010 at 9:02 am

    R’ Hillel haKohen Klein was born 1844 in Baracska, Bars County, Hungary (now Bardonovo, Slovakia), to son of Zeev Tzvi, who was Talmid of the Chatam Sofer of Pressburg.
    R’ Hillel was Talmid of Ktav Sofer, and was son-in-law of Mendel Hirsch, the director of Orth. Jewish school in Frankfurt, Germany, grandson of Frankfurt Rav R’ Rafael Hirsch. R’ Hillel Klein abt. 1890 left Hungary.

  • 15 YD Miller // Jul 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    A long Biography on Ranni Klein written by Rabbi Kolpowitz a famous Shochet in NY, Rabbi Klien was very instrumental in preserving Kosher Ritaul Slaughter Laws inthe United States and faught hard for its existense.

  • 16 Yaakov Berger // Aug 17, 2010 at 11:30 am

    To all my dear friends: A very important book which I just purchased is titled: Orthodox Judaism in America by Moshe D. Sherman. An excellent read, it contains a ton of information regarding many of the rabbonim mentioned here.
    Regarding Rabbi Klein – and to answer why he was a doctor as well – the aforementioned book states that he studied in Eisenstadt by Rabbi Azriel Hildesheimer and after two years left for a gymnasium in Vienna and eventually entered the university of Vienna. “In 1871, at the age of 21, he received rabbinic ordination from Rav Tzvi Benyamin Auerbach of Halberstadt and two years later completed a Ph.D. at the University of Berlin.”

  • 17 J. Helfand // Feb 8, 2011 at 12:36 am

    When I studied American Jewish History with the Late Prof. Hyman B. Grinstein, he noted that Rav Klein was sometimes referred to as “R. Hillel ha-mechuneh Dr. Klein.”

  • 18 Moshe Escott // Feb 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    This wording can be seen at the following two locations:
    as well as many other examples

  • 19 Ben Bee Zee // Apr 11, 2011 at 11:38 am

    At a meeting for the Central Relief Committee in the Oheb Tzedek Shul seated are R’ Dr. Bernard Drachman, R’ Dr. Hillel Klein, Cantor Yosselle Rosenblat

  • 20 asher // Apr 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Rav Klein Marker:

    Rebbetzin Klein Marker:
    (She died 2 days after the Rav)

    Front of Marker:
    (Notice Rav Kanarek sons’ marker on far left)

    Back View:
    (Giant limestone marker of left (almost impossible to read) are Rav Kleins’ 2 daughters, Sarah & Channah Klein, obviously died at young age, anyone with more info, kindly share.

    Sarah & Channah Klein (English engraving):

    Rav Levy and his Wife (Rav Kleins cousin)

    Leopold Klein (Son):

    Path 96:
    (Rav Klein is at the end of this path, left)

  • 21 Farshlufen // Jul 17, 2011 at 9:56 am

    MARCH 23, 1926
    Dr. Philip Klein, Aged New York Rabbi, Dies

    Dr. Philip Klein, Rabbi of the Ohab Zedeck Congregation and leader of Hungarian Jews in America for the past thirty-five years, died Sunday afternoon at the age of 77. The funeral, attended by many thousands, took place yesterday. His widow is lying ill with pneumonia.
    Rabbi Klein’s last wish was that his body should not be taken into the synagogue and that no eulogies be made at his funeral. He also asked that if some memorial is to be made for him that a Talmud Torah be erected in his name.
    Rabbi Klein was honorary president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, vice-president of the Union of Orthodox Congregations and treasurer of the Ezrath Torah Fund.
    He is survived by his wife, six sons and two daughters.
    Among Hungarian Jews in this country Dr. Klein was often called “the Moses of Hungary.” A native of Bratchka, Hungary, he showed as a child strong predilections for a rabbi’s career, and at 11 years could recite the Talmud by heart. After studying at the University of Vienna, he became an instructor in the University of Berlin and studied there at the Rabbinical Seminary, receiving his ordination in 1871. He obtained his degree of Doctor of Philosophy two years later.
    From 1874 to 1891 he was in Russia, first at Kieff then at Libau, where he held an important position as rabbi. With the increase of anti-Semitism in Russia, he was forced to leave the country, accepting the invitation of the late Rabbi Jacob Joseph to come to the Congregation Ohab Zedeck, then in Norfolk Street. He began his long service as a rabbi of this synagogue in 1891 and continued in charge after the merger in May 1923, with Pincus Elijah Congregation. He was president of the Kolel Shomre Hachomos. In February 1923, 300 friends of Dr. Klein gave a dinner in his honor at the Broadway Central Hotel.

  • 22 Farshlufen // Jul 17, 2011 at 9:58 am

    זיך געעלטערט אינאיינעם

    MARCH 25, 1926
    Rabbi Klein’s Widow Survives Husband Less Than 48 Hours

    Mrs. Julie Klein died of pneumonia Tuesday morning, less than forty-eight hours after the death of her husband, Dr. Philip Klein, for thirty-six years rabbi of the Congregation Ohab Zedek in West 116th Street. Death occurred at her residence, 137 West 119th Street.
    Mrs. Klein was stricken ill while nursing Dr. Klein for the same malady, and died without learning that he had passed away. On the morning of his death she had asked to be wheeled into the room where he lay ill, but it was not deemed wise by the physician to comply, owing to the grave condition of both patients. Dr. and Mrs. Klein had been married for forty-five years.
    The services for Mrs. Klein were held at the residence yesterday. The Rev. Isaiah Levy, associate rabbi of the Congregation Ohab Zedek, and the Rev. Josef Rosenblatt, cantor, officiated. The pallbearers included the trustees of the congregation, Moritz Neuman, President; Louis Friedman, M. J. Federman, Ignatz Roth, Emil Neufeld, Aaron Garfunkel, N. H. Borenstein, Morris Solomon, Albert Herskovitz, Leon Tuchman, Bernard Reich, Jacob Klein, Louis Borgenicht, Louis Wohl and Morris Engelman.
    Mrs. Klein was born on May 16, 1861, in Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany, granddaughter of Samuel Rafael Hirsch, chief rabbi of Germany, and daughter of Mendel Hirsh, an educator. Dr. and Mrs. Klein are survived by six sons.
    Mrs. Klein was identified with many philanthropic causes. She was vice-president of the Women’s Branch of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. For many years she conducted a Talmud Torah on the lower east side for more than 200 children. She organized the Julie Hirsh Klein Benevolent Society and was honorary president of the Sisterhood of the Ohab Zedek Congregation.

  • 23 sas // Aug 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Does anyone know any info about rabbi kliens daughters that rest near him?

  • 24 Czortkow // Jan 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Rabbi Klein @ 74:00

  • 25 Farshlufen // Mar 26, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Post on Rabbi Moshe Wechsler mentioned above:

  • 26 Farshlufen // Apr 14, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    “Miss Harriet Klein, Daugther
    of Rabbi and Mrs.Phillip
    Klein of New York City
    Marries Mr. Romie Lunzer”

  • 27 m.kennedy // Apr 17, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Julis Lunzer was the founding president of the adas yisroel London which is to day the heimishe kehila in Stamford hill

  • 28 Kahanovitch // Jul 1, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    He wrote a sort of smicha for My great grandfather I found in my dad’s basement. My great grandfather should be posted on this site as chief rabbi of Western Canada ah. Photo when get to a computer.

  • 29 B Weill // Jul 20, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Was Rav Hillel Klein ztl a mechaber of seforim?

  • 30 chaim reichberg // Mar 25, 2018 at 1:24 am

    friday was no snow came bucheim -kollel yingerleit 700 came to be mispallel kav hayusher perik 68 yuo can put kvitel -light candles , learn mishneias in the month of nisan by any kever , by a yretzeit kever u can say thilim tefilos -kvitlach-light candles

  • 31 chaim reichberg // Mar 25, 2018 at 1:27 am

    kav hayusher 88 -not 68,

  • 32 chaim reichberg // Mar 25, 2018 at 1:38 am

    ספר יסוד יוסף פרק פ”ג ער איז געווען די רבי פון קב הישר זאגט די זעלבע תפילה נישט אבער ליכט- קוייטל- משניות יא – ביי יעדן קבר – ביום היארצייט קען מ’זאגן תהילים ותחנונים אויך וז”ל אין הולכים על קברים לומר תחנונים כבשאר ימים -ווייל חודש ניסן איז א חודש פון רחמים גמורים –

  • 33 Dan Klein // Jul 10, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    Belated answer to Chaim Reichberg: apparently R. Klein did not author any seforim. He left notes for his sermons, but these were sent to a nephew in Germany in 1933 and were subsequently lost. However, one sermon of his survives, given in German at his shul in Libau, Russia (now Latvia) on Shavuos, 1884. The original plus an English translation appear in my mother’s book, “Heritage of Faith: Two Pioneers of Judaism in America” (Ktav, 1987). The sermon is based on the theme, “Every day the words of the Torah should be new in our eyes again.”

  • 34 Dan Klein // Jul 10, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    Sorry, the belated answer is to B. Weill.

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