Max Kleinman, a long-time member of the board of the Tikva Children’s Home in Odessa, Ukraine, will receive its Distinguished Service Award at the organization’s annual benefit gala on Tuesday evening, Sept. 27, at Espace in New York City.
Kleinman is immediate past executive vice president/CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, a position he held for nearly two decades. He now serves as a senior consultant with Jewish Federations of North America and associate professor at Rutgers School of Social Work.
The home was founded in 1996 with a commitment to provide the orphaned, abandoned, and homeless Jewish children of Odessa with food, shelter, education, counseling, and what its website calls “a warm and loving home environment.” A total of 300 children currently reside in the home, which is a partner agency of the GMW federation. An additional 600 attend its schools and receive food, clothing, and medical services. Tikva also provides multigenerational education, social services, vocational training, and medical care to those in need.
The largest Jewish school in the former Soviet Union, Tikva has served some 1,500 young people since its founding.
Kleinman has visited the home in Odessa on several occasions. “Tikva is very important,” he told NJ Jewish News in an Aug. 25 interview. “It literally saves these orphaned and abandoned children from lives of destitution, and it provides a strong Jewish identity for people who would otherwise be lost to the Jewish people.”
The youngsters in the home, he said, “also get a good secular education, so they can be mainstreamed into Ukrainian society….” He added that “a high percentage” of the home’s alumni have made aliya.
As far as the award is concerned, Kleinman said, “I really don’t deserve it, but I am honored that they thought of me and I am happy the federation is actively involved with Tikva. I am most proud of what Tikva has accomplished.”
Also at the dinner, the Lifetime Humanitarian Award will be given to Chaim (Harry) and Anna Schimmel, philanthropists who made aliya from London in 2015. Comedian and Tony Award-nominated actor and singer Robert Klein will headline the entertainment.