Jew You Should Know: Moshe Klein

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By Kira Cohen
Features editor
@Mitzpeh

“Maximum invitation, no pressure.”

That’s how Moshe Klein said his friends describe him. After moving 11 times as a child, Klein understands the importance of welcoming everyone regardless of background, whether it be through his official involvement on campus or general kindness in his life.

“People are always welcome to join me,” he said. And he means it.

Klein often goes out of his way to help others. It’s a practice rooted in his personality. As a government and politics major, Klein is interested in conflict resolution and countering terrorism. He hopes to become a foreign policy analyst after he graduates this year. But he wasn’t supposed to graduate just yet. This is only Klein’s third year at this university. Engrossed in his pursuit of helping conflict internationally, Klein found out during his sophomore year that he “accidentally took too many credits.”

After volunteering in high school for Yachad, a program for Jews with special needs, Klein continues to fill his time service to the campus community and beyond. Last summer, Klein went to the Philippines to distribute hygiene kits in evacuation centers.

Beyond just personal charity measures, Klein also teaches students public policy at the Do Good Institute. Here, he trains students how to build their own nonprofit organizations by supplying them with the resources they need to get involved in philanthropy.

Klein, center, distributing hygiene kits to earthquake victims in the Philippines in July 2017. Photo courtesy of Moshe Klein.

Klein also works as a resident assistant for Carroll Hall. While he admits that the 24/7 job is extremely demanding, he is always there for his students. Freshman computer science major Alex Ghelman, a Carroll Hall resident, raved about Klein’s above and beyond kindness as an RA on Purim. It wasn’t enough for Klein to fulfill his obligation of giving mishloach manot, baskets of food, to his Jewish residents Alex and Yedidya. Klein decided to then give individualized Mishloach Manot to the rest of the floor “because that’s the type of guy he is,” Ghelman said.

While Klein is passionate about including everyone, he is also highly opinionated. As an opinion columnist at the Diamondback, he is adamant about sharing his views on topics such as foreign policy, campus life, and Israel with the world.

“Using your voice in nonviolent ways is really important,” Klein said.

He identifies as “centrist” and likes to convey this ideology to the extreme right and left. When asked how he spots an opinion he can respect rather than a wrong that runs counter to his firm principles, Klein said, “opinions are like porn – you know it when you see it.”

Klein’s love of inclusion and deeply rooted opinions manifest in both his approaches towards Judaism as well as his involvement with Judaism at Maryland. He fervently opposes postmodernism and said it is a “silly way to look at the world.” Although Klein does not yet know what the absolute truth is, he is passionate that it exists. He believes entertaining multiple opinions avoids reality, and doing so “leads to bad policy,” which Klein hopes to fix through his future work in foreign conflict and policy.

Although his practices most closely align with Orthodoxy, he feels labels are divisive and identifies as “just Jewish.” Passionate about halacha and academia, he believes deeply in the reality of God and looks for “Godliness” in people and nature. Learning is important to Klein, and he engages in a regular chevruta to learn more about Judaism.

“You should always grow,” Klein said.

Klein’s involvement with the Jewish community is a testament to his social work and inclusive beliefs. While he firmly believes in strict observance of halacha, he is interested in engaging with others who disagree with him. Klein’s girlfriend, Miriam Zami, who is currently studying at the Stern College for Women in New York, spoke about Klein’s practice of bridging gaps through his shabbat meals.

On Friday night, Klein customarily picks up people from all different backgrounds at Hillel for a massive meal, “when we were only planning on having five people.” Klein in also passionate about interfaith events, where he extends beyond different sects of Judaism to engage with people of all faiths.

While Klein has no official position at Hillel, he can always be found there. He is constantly doing odd jobs, running random programming, to give back to the community.

“Hillel is an amazing place,” he said. “If someone needs something done, I do it. I want to give things to other people.”

Although all of Klein’s accomplishments can make him seem intimidating, he said, “I’m very chill.”

When he’s not busy, he loves to listen to movie soundtracks.

“It makes me feel epic,” he said.

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