Interfaith Pioneer Klenicki Honored by ADL
New York, NY, November 2, 2007 … In recognition of his dedication and commitment to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and to the Jewish community, ADL honored Rabbi Leon Klenicki, an interfaith pioneer who made historic contributions in creating positive relationships between Christians and Jews around the world, during the League's annual National Commission Meeting in New York City.
ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman presented Rabbi Klenicki with a framed papercut by the Israeli artist Enya Keshet, adorned with the words, in Hebrew, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" and the inscription, "For your Decades of Dedication and Commitment to the Anti Defamation League and to the Jewish Community."
"Rabbi Klenicki personified ADL in that he believed in the need to speak out in the face of Christian anti-Semitism, but equally important to educate Christian leaders for the long run," said Mr. Foxman. "He could relate to the individual happiness and pain that people in our community could experience. For him it was never simply an abstract experience, but a human experience. It is a proud moment for me to present this award to one of ADL's best and one of the finest human beings we have known."
"I am deeply moved by this honor," said Rabbi Klenicki. "You are my family, and ADL has been the realization of my life."
Rabbi Klenicki is ADL Director Emeritus of Interfaith Affairs. He was recently made a Papal Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope Benedict XVI, for his historic contributions in creating positive relationships between Catholics and Jews around the world. This is the highest award that can be given to a non-Catholic by the Pope.
A native of Argentina, Klenicki helped develop Reform Judaism in Latin America and lectured widely at the main Latin American Jewish centers. He also served as an advisor on interfaith affairs for the DAIA, the main Jewish organization in Argentina.
Rabbi Klenicki received a Rabbinical diploma in 1967 from the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. In September 1967, Klenicki returned to Buenos Aires, where he accepted the position of Director of the Latin American Office of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
In October 1973, Rabbi Klenicki joined ADL as head of the Jewish-Catholic Relations Department. He became Director of ADL's Department of Interfaith Affairs in 1984, and ADL's Co-Liaison to the Vatican. He held this position until his retirement in January 2001.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recommended to all U.S. bishops and cardinals that they observe Holocaust Memorial Day by using as a liturgy the service prepared by Rabbi Klenicki and Dr. Eugene J. Fisher, "From Desolation to Hope: An Interreligious Holocaust Memorial Service." In May 2001, Rabbi Klenicki was honored by the Holy See's Commission for Interreligious Relations with Judaism for his contributions to the interfaith dialogue.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.