Klausner, Abraham J. 1915-2007 (Abraham Klausner, Abraham Judah Klausner)

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Klausner, Abraham J. 1915-2007 (Abraham Klausner, Abraham Judah Klausner)


See index for CA sketch: Born May 18, 1915, in Memphis, TN; died of complications of Parkinson's disease, June 28, 2007, in Santa Fe, NM. Rabbi, chaplain, and writer. Rabbi Klausner became the unofficial spiritual leader of thousands of disenfranchised and helpless Holocaust survivors when he passed through the gates of the Dachau death camp in Germany after the United States occupation began in April of 1945. Though technically liberated, many of the emaciated, often severely ill inmates lingered at Dachau and other former Nazi camps because they had nowhere to go and no way to get there. They beseeched the American rabbi and army chaplain, Lieutenant Klausner, to help them learn about their lost families and friends while waiting and hoping that Allied leaders would find them a haven outside the camps. Klausner immediately ministered to the unofficial congregation, performing religious rituals, finding food and supplies—even kosher food—and pleading with his government and with American Jewish organizations to send food, clothing, and other support. On a larger scale, Klausner committed himself to reuniting as many broken families as he possibly could. He compiled and published volumes of huge Holocaust survivor lists from Dachau and other camps and worked to create a resource center at a Munich museum where survivors and relatives could pursue their own searches for one another. When the state of Israel was proclaimed a haven for these refugees in 1948, Klausner returned to the United States. He was the leader of a Reform Jewish congregation in Yonkers, New York, for more than thirty years until his retirement in 1989. Klausner also wrote books, such as A Child's Prayer Book for the Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. A more controversial book was Weddings: A Complete Guide to All Religious and Interfaith Marriage Services, published in 1986. Religious purists criticized the book for the impact it could have on traditional (single-faith) family values, but as he did in Germany after World War II, Klausner emphasized that his mission was to heal people and unite families whenever he could. In 2002 he published his autobiography, A Letter to My Children: From the Edge of the Holocaust.



Klausner, Abraham J., A Letter to My Children: From the Edge of the Holocaust, Holocaust Center of Northern California (San Francisco, CA), 2002.

Slomovitz, Albert, The Fighting Rabbis: Jewish Military Chaplains and American History, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1999.


Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2007, Jocelyn Y. Stewart, p. B8.

New York Times, June 30, 2007, Dennis Hevesi, p. B10; July 28, 2007, obituary correction notice, p. A2.

Washington Post, July 3, 2007, p. B8.


The Long Way Home (documentary film), Seventh Art Releasing, 1997.