Rabbi Emeritus


A Message from Rabbi Emeritus Gary Klein

Judaism can be a very powerful force for good in our lives and in the world. Through the teachings, customs, and historical narratives found in its sacred literature, Judaism can enhance our ethical consciousness and nurture our compassion. It can also help us become more appreciative of the important experiences and people in our lives. This appreciation increases the joy we experience during happy times and softens the pain that sadness brings.

A Jewish congregation should nurture this process. It should also be a second home for every member and it should enhance the pride we feel in being Jews. Our congregation attempts to fulfill these goals by joining with our fellow-members in worship, celebration, study and deeds of service to the Jewish and general communities. We hope you will join us in our shared endeavor. 


Rabbi Gary Klein currently serves as spiritual leader of Temple Ahavat Shalom of Palm Harbor, Florida, a position he has held for 30 years. Temple Ahavat Shalom is a congregation of approximately 475 households that serves Northern Pinellas, Southwest Pasco and Western Hillsborough Counties, Florida.

Prior to assuming the pulpit of Temple Ahavat Shalom, Rabbi Klein served for nine years as spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel, Altoona, PA. Before moving to Altoona, he served for three years as Assistant Rabbi and Director of Education and Youth Programming at Temple Anshe Sholom, Olympia Fields, IL.

A native of Lakewood, NJ, Rabbi Klein attended public schools there. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati which he obtained in 1971; and a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion which he received in 1973. He obtained Rabbinic Ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1975 and was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in March 2000. He also participated in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Overseas Students Program, having studied in Israel during the academic year 1969-1970.
In the Tampa Bay area, Rabbi Klein serves as the Secretary of Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, an organization with which he has been very involved for many years. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Catholic Jewish Studies at St. Leo University. He has also served on the Mease Hospital Ethics Committee, the Board of Directors of the Long Center and the Board of Directors of the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce. He has served as President of the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis and he was one of the 1988-1989 designees for Leadership Pinellas.

In Altoona, Rabbi Klein served as Treasurer of the Altoona Hospital, Chairman of the Board of the Altoona Community Mental Health Center and Vice President of Family and Children’s Services of Blair County, Pennsylvania.

Since coming to Pinellas County, Florida in 1987, Rabbi Klein has served on the Board of the St. Leo University Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, and for 21 years on the Board of Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, where he held positions as Secretary, Treasurer and Vice Chair. Rabbi Klein also recently completed several terms on the Board of Directors of the Innocence Project of Florida, an organization which works to obtain exoneration for innocent people who have been unjustly convicted of serious crimes.

Currently, Rabbi Klein serves on the National Council of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He has been a life-long activist on behalf of the mutually beneficial alliance between the United States and Israel.

Rabbi Klein and his wife, Ilene, are parents of two grown children, Sara and Jeffrey. Sara is married to Cantor Marshall Kapell.