(JTA) — The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association has elected an openly gay rabbi to lead the national rabbinic organization.
Rabbi Jason Klein, the executive director of Hillel at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, since 2006, was elected to lead the RRA during its 39th annual convention in New Orleans, which ended on Wednesday. It is the first national rabbinic association of one of the major Jewish denominations in the United States to be led by a gay man, according to the group.
Klein was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Council in 2002 and graduated from Columbia University in 1997. He grew up in Montclair, N.J. Klein spent four years as a congregational rabbi at Congregation Beth Emeth on the South Shore of Long Island, N.Y.
"Coming out and growing into my adult Jewish identity would not be the same were it not for affirming teachers, rabbis and other mentors along the way,” Klein said after his election, j. weekly reported. “I am honored to be able to give back by supporting colleagues who are creating welcoming communities in hundreds of settings across North America and beyond.”
The rabbinical association also honored Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, who in 1974 became the first woman to be ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Sasso was honored in advance of her stepping down after 36 years as rabbi of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis.