PHOTO: (left to right) is Monmouth Reform Temple’s new Rabbi Marc Kline (center) with his wife Lori Bernard and the MRT President Jay Wiesenfeld of Lincroft. Rabbi Kline began his service as MRT’s Rabbi on July 1.
Tinton Falls, NJ - After a year-long search, the Monmouth Reform Temple (MRT) selected Rabbi Marc Kline to lead the Tinton Falls congregation. He began his tenure at MRT on July 1. Rabbi Bob Ourach served as MRT’s interim spiritual leader for over a year during this search. Rabbi Kline most recently served as the Rabbi at Temple Adath Israel in Lexington, Kentucky, where he helped grow that congregation and was also recognized for his social justice work and interfaith outreach to the surrounding community.
MRT President Jay Wiesenfeld believes that it is Rabbi Kline’s ability to encourage and focus on relationship building which will provide the impetus for growth of the Monmouth Reform Temple membership.
Wiesenfeld adds, “We are very fortunate to have Rabbi Kline join MRT at this time. His rabbinate has been involved in the creation of relationships and community building within the congregation and beyond. He has an excellent depth of knowledge of Jewish history and thought and strongly understands the needs of the Jewish community. Additionally, he is passionate in his role as a teacher within the congregation. We are very excited to welcome Rabbi Kline and his family.”
Rabbi Marc Kline was born in Las Vegas and graduated from Tulane University in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. He soon after graduated from the University of Arkansas law school. While working at a Little Rock law firm, he became re-immersed in his faith at a Reform Temple. He began to take on a more involved role in the congregation and was encouraged to become, what he terms, “a second career rabbi.”
Rabbi Kline graduated from the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in 1994 with a Masters of Arts in Hebrew Letters and was ordained as a Rabbi the following year. His first major service in a Jewish Congregation brought him to South Carolina where he forged a close alliance with interfaith clergy and even co-led the 2000 march on the South Carolina Capital to remove the controversial Confederate flag. The event was described as the largest march on a Southern capital (with over 40,000 people) since the Civil Rights era. He states of that experience, “I remain deeply indebted to the ministers who became my dear friends and teachers. They taught me what it meant to serve a congregation and a community in a meaningful and relevant way.”
He brought that spirit of interfaith cooperation to his 11-year service at Temple Adath. Tom Eblen of Lexington Herald -Leader wrote about Rabbi Kline’s legacy, “Kline will be remembered in Lexington for his tireless work to bridge gaps of religion race and culture. He chaired the city’ Human Rights commission, served on civic organization boards and taught pastoral care to Christian ministerial students at Lexington Theological Seminary.” Rabbi Kline’s distinguished career includes teaching Jewish liturgy, and history, ethics and philosophy courses in high schools, colleges and universities in Kentucky, South Carolina and Ohio. He serves on the Board of the Association of Reform Zionists in New York City, working on behalf of The State of Israel issues. Kline has served on and chaired hospital chaplaincy advisory boards, and co-created a volunteer police chaplaincy team for the Lexington Police Department. He has also consulted with many organizations on diversity training, leadership development, organizational process and vision training. His clients included churches, school districts, health departments, The YMCA and the Girl Scouts of America. He has been recognized multiple times for his excellence in community service.
Some of his accolades include: the 2003 “Spirit of Light Award from the Eastern Carolina Community Development Corporation; the Interfaith Dialogue Excellence Award from the University of Kentucky; the Bluegrass Community and Technical College MOSAIIC Award for Diversity Commitment and education; the Fayette County School District Golden Apple Award (with his congregation) for exceptional volunteer work in the school district and a schools.
In leaving Kentucky, Rabbi moved from people and a community that he dearly loved.
He states, “I believe that I served to the best of my ability and shared in a great many successes with the congregation that entrusted its pulpit to me. To stay longer, though, would have been to serve my own ego; it was time to acknowledge that seasons were changing.”
He sees his new ministry as a new challenge and the beginning of new life in New Jersey with his wife Lori Bernard and youngest daughter Rachel. Rabbi Kline lost his first wife after many years of marriage, and feels blessed to have found Lori. He is now the patriarch of a beautiful blended family of eight (including a new son-in-law), mostly adult children, whose ages range from 14 to 30.
He states of his decision to come to MRT, “What brought me here was opportunity. We have incredible resources within this community.”
He describes his purpose, “to help define the tone and tenor of the temple and how the community sees us.” Additionally, he hopes “to expand membership involvement within the temple community and to broaden its service outside the temple as well.”
He explains, “I want us to grow in spirit and understanding. We are each other’s family, and we need to commit ourselves to caring for each other, challenging each other, and growing each other. If we are successful, then we ensure the vibrancy of Torah for the next generations to come. I am blessed every day, and thankful to be blessed … here.”