Rabbi Binyomin Klein, 79, long-time aide and member of the secretariat of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt’l passed away on Friday morning in Brooklyn, New York. He will be remembered as the “Rebbe’s Ambassador” to Israeli officials.
Rabbi Klein also served on the boards of several major governing bodies of Chabad, including Machneh Israel, the social service arm of Chabad-Lubavitch.
Rabbi Klein was the liaison for Israeli diplomats, political, military and other leaders from Israel who came to see the Rebbe. During the 1977 visit of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the Rebbe introduced Rabbi Klein to the Prime Minister as “my general.”
Rabbi Klein was born in 1935 to Menachem and Rochel Klein. His mother died in childbirth and he was raised by his father, who headed the Jerusalem Chevra Kadisha, the Jewish burial society. As a teen he studied in the Chabad Torat Emet school in Jerusalem. In 1956 he traveled to New York to study in the court of the Rebbe.
After his marriage to Laya Schusterman, the couple moved to Australia where Rabbi Klein was among the founders of Yeshiva Gedolah of Melbourne, Australia and New Zealand. In 1963, the Kleins returned to the United States where Rabbi Klein joined the Secretariat of Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Rabbi Klein spoke little about his work in the Rebbe’s office. He was beloved by so many who interfaced with him as they corresponded with the Rebbe. He was also the person with whom many others spoke as they brought their precious tzetlach, their notes and letters to the office in “770” to be handed sometimes immediately to the Rebbe as he sat in his office just a few feet away.
Upon occasion, Rabbi Klein would tell a visitor to wait for a response, rather than the more common written or telephoned reply that often came later — hours or even days later. Despite his high position, One of the Rebbe’s main secretaries, he never forgot a face; he was also unfailingly courteous, gentle and kind.
Rabbi Klein kept long hours, often returning home at 2 a.m. Yet his home was famous for its hospitality, open always to guests and visitors. It was a second home to countless young women who came to Crown Heights as they began to learn about Judaism and return to their roots. It was here that they found a welcome place for meals, a listening ear, some good advice.
The funeral passed by Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway late Friday afternoon before Rabbi Klein’s body was brought to the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens.
Rabbi Klein was laid to rest near the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt’l and that of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, z’tl, in the Chabad-Lubavitch section of the cemetery.
Baruch HaDayan HaEmes. May his memory be for a blessing.
Hana Levi Julian