Kleins Are New Partnership Chairs

“Next year in Jerusalem.”

How many times have we repeated that phrase? Somehow, that hope makes Jerusalem and Israel seem distant and almost unreal.

But Israel is neither remote nor unreal. This is particularly true in light of the connections our Louisville Jewish community has made with the Western Galilee through Partnership2gether. Louisvillians have visited Israel and Israelis have come to Louisville to learn, to share cultural experiences, to collaborate and, most of all, to build friendships. Through it all, we’ve collaborated with other members of the Central Area Consortium – 13 American Jewish communities, mostly from the central part of the U.S., and Budapest, Hungary.

Lisa and Robert Klein

Lisa and Robert Klein

For the past several years, Drs. Jon and Laura Klein have chaired Louisville’s Partnership efforts. During their tenure, Louisville hosted a major Consortium planning meeting, organized several group trips to Israel, including a four-day bicycle adventure from Rosh Hanikra to Eilat, participated in exchanges of medical personnel, performers, artists, photographers and more.

With the recent Breaking Barriers program during which Louisville hosted 17 Israeli women of varied backgrounds who have chosen to get to know each other in pursuit of peace, the Kleins have passed the leadership baton to Robert and Dr. Lisa Klein.

“Jon and Laura Klein are friends of ours,” Robert explained, “and they thought we’d be interested in the Partnership Program, so we went on their trip to the Western Galilee and other locations in 2013. It was a wonderful trip and we learned a lot. It was my first time and her second to visit Israel.”

“Being involved with that trip to Israel got us more involved with local activities,” Lisa added, including hosting some visiting delegations.

Along the way, Robert, who is a skilled amateur photographer connected with Israeli photographer Yochanan Kishon when Kishon visited Louisville who came to Louisville in April 2014 to share some of his work and conduct some workshops.

Later that year, Robert had the opportunity to work with Kishon in Israel through Partnership’s Artist-in-Residence program.

The Kleins also hosted several Israeli visitors to Louisville, and the more they engaged in Partnership2Gether activities, the more they enjoyed them. Now, they’re ready to lead Louisville’s Partnership activities.

“We’re looking forward to more expeditions to Israel,” Lisa said. “I’d like to see some more folks go into the Artist-in-Residence program,” Robert added.

“We’ve already started by recruiting several people to host the most recent delegation, and we hope to get more people involved,” she continued. They plan to continue supporting the educational programming, including the classroom twinning projects and the arts exchanges.

The Kleins are interested in continuing and expanding the medical exchange program. They toured the Western Galilee Medical Center and were very impressed with the hospital’s ability to transfer all operations underground into sealed rooms that can protect patients, physicians and staff from all types of war. They also noted that the hospital helps everyone who needs their help – Muslim, Jew, Christian, Druze, Arab, Palestinian, Syrian, young and old – and treats each with respect.

Matt Goldberg, Partnership coordinator for the Jewish Federation is thrilled to be working with the Kleins. “Having Lisa and Robert chair our Partnership Committee continues a long line of passionate and committed leadership for connecting our community with our friends and family in Israel. Their desire to further the individual connections with our partner communities in the Western Galilee is plainly evident and I look forward to assisting them with realizing their vision.”

“Partnership is a more personal experience,” Robert explained, “because you make personal connections with Israelis. You’re not just sightseeing and learning about history. You’re learning how people live, think and feel on a personal level that you would not normally get.”

They are looking forward to their new leadership roles in Louisville’s Partnership2Gether.

Originally from New York, Lisa Klein is a pediatric cardiologist. She earned her BA in biology from Brown University and her MD from SUNY Health Sciences Center at Syracuse.

She did her internship at Tulane University Medical Center and her residency at The New York Hospital – Cornell Medical Center, both in pediatrics, and a fellowship in pediatric cardiology at The New York Hospital.

Klein was in academic life for 23 years, including appointments at both the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky. Today, she is the owner and founding member of Heart to Heart Pediatric Cardiology.

She has an extensive list of professional presentations, academic activities, abstracts, research experience and publications.

Klein is a life member of both Hadassah and National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section and serves on the Jewish Family & Career Services Board. At The J, she was a CenterStage board member and a Light Up CenterStage volunteer. She was also a member of the JCC Louisville 125th Anniversary Gala Planning Committee and currently serves on the JCC Membership Committee. She was a parent volunteer at The Temple Pre-School and with the Jefferson County Public Schools.

For a few years, she lived in North Carolina and was a member of the Temple Beth Shalom Board and Sisterhood in Hickory and did fundraising for the Clater-Kaye TheatreWorks.

She has been a board member of the Ronald McDonald House, has volunteered at Christmas at the Wayside Christian Mission Soup Kitchen and has volunteered with several medical related nonprofits.

She has a long list of professional and volunteer accolades including the Distinguished Service Award from Wayside Christian Mission, a Citation for Community Service from Mayor Jerry Abramson, a Community Service Award from UofL and a Champion for Children Award from Jefferson County Public Schools, among others.

Robert Klein is a native Louisvillian and a lawyer in private practice. He grew up at The J, from Camp Ricarree to Camp Tall Trees, was a member of the Condors teen club and attended Atherton High. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from UofL.

He is also an accomplished photographer. Although he pursues photography as a hobby, he is skilled enough to have merited the artist-in residence position in the Partnership program and he had an exhibition of his work at The J. More recently, his photographs were featured in The New York Times travel section (“36 Hours in Louisville”).

In addition, Klein has served as president of several organizations including the Action League for Physically Handicapped Adults, the Louisville Apple Users Group and the Amateur Radio Transmitting Society. He holds an Extra Class amateur radio license.

The Kleins are members of The Temple. Robert is a past president of the congregation and Lisa is a member of the Women of Reform Judaism. They have five children, Adam Klein, Samantha Westervelt, Ian Westervelt, Annika Klein and Sydney Westervelt.

Partnership2Gether is a project of the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Jewish Federation of Louisville has participated in this project since its inception in 2007. Louisville is part of the Central Area Consortium that also includes Des Moines, IA; Ft. Wayne, Indianapolis and Northwest Indiana; Omaha, NE; Buffalo, NY; Dayton, South Bend, Toledo and Youngstown, OH; Austin, Ft. Worth and San Antonio, TX in the United States; Budapest, Hungary; and Akko and Matte Asher in Israel.

It offers opportunities for individuals and families in Louisville to develop personal connections with people in the Western Galilee. Past projects have been in the fields of education, medicine, the arts and business. Other projects can be developed based on individuals’ interests.

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