TINTON FALLS – After a year-long search, the Monmouth Reform Temple has selected Rabbi Marc Kline to lead the Tinton Falls congregation.
He began his tenure at Monmouth Reform Temple (MRT) on July 1. Rabbi Bob Ourach served as MRT’s interim spiritual leader for more than a year during the search. Kline most recently served as the rabbi at Temple Adath Israel in Lexington, Ky., where he helped grow the congregation and was recognized for his social justice work and interfaith outreach to the surrounding community.
MRT President Jay Wiesenfeld believes it is Kline’s ability to encourage and focus on relationship-building that will provide the impetus for growth of the Monmouth Reform Temple membership.
“We are very fortunate to have Rabbi Kline join MRT at this time,” Wiesenfeld said. “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,” the congregation president said.
Kline was born in Las Vegas and graduated from Tulane University in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in history. Soon after, he graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law. 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.”
Kline graduated from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 1994 with a master’s in Hebrew Letters and was ordained a rabbi the following year.
His first major service in a Jewish congregation took him to South Carolina where he forged a close alliance with interfaith clergy and co-led the 2000 march to the South Carolina Capitol to remove the controversial Confederate flag. The event was described as the largest march on a Southern capital – with more than 40,000 people – since the Civil Rights era.
“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,” Kline said of the experience.
He brought that spirit of interfaith cooperation to his 11-year service at Temple Adath. Kline’s 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 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 also has consulted with many organizations on diversity training, leadership development, organizational process, and vision training.
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. He is patriarch to a family of eight mostly adult children (including a new son-in-law), who range in age from 14 to 30.
“What brought me here was opportunity. We have incredible resources within this community,” he said.
His purpose, as he sees it, is “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.
“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,” Kline said. “I am blessed every day, and thankful to be blessed … here.”
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