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Klein, Theodore


KLEIN, THEODORE (Theo ; 1920– ), French lawyer and Jewish communal leader, Klein was born in Paris and completed his studies in law and political science there. He was actively involved in the Jewish Resistance during wwii. A successful business lawyer, he worked in France, Africa, and Israel (as a member of the Israel Lawyers' Association since 1970). Both a French and Israeli citizen, he was also extremely active in Jewish communal affairs: he was president of crif, the political representative body of French Jewish institutions (1983–89), and president of the European Jewish Congress, (1986–91), which he helped found and headed in critical periods, such as the first visit of Arafat in Paris. His term as leader of the French Jewish community coincided with an increase in the influence of the community during the tenure of President Mitterrand, who was a personal friend of Klein. Klein is also close to the leaders of the French Socialist Party and the Israeli Labor Party. He took a leading role in the negotiations to remove the Carmelite convent from Auschwitz (L'affaire du carmel d'Auschwitz, 1991). Among his books are Libérez la Torah, Moïse, l'homme et la loi: une relecture (2001), where he calls upon the Jews to go directly to the text of the Bible and to free themselves from centuries of commentary. He was also president of the *Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme in Paris from 2001.

[Gideon Kouts /

Nelly Hansson (2nd ed.)]

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