1883 – 1891
David Klein was the eighth President of Keneseth Israel, serving from 1883 to 1891. Three years into his tenure, Rabbi Hirsch retired, after which the congregation decided to transition away from German. Klein hired an English-speaking rabbi and the congregation began to conduct services and keep records in English. In 1887, Rabbi Dr. Joseph Krauskopf, a member of the first graduating class of Hebrew Union College, became the new rabbi. Rabbi Krauskopf led the reorientation of the religious school to focus on religion rather than language, hired the school’s first woman teacher, and reinstituted Sunday services. In 1889, Keneseth Israel abandoned the blowing of the shofar at High Holidays and returned to a one-year Torah cycle. Additionally, Klein oversaw the retirement of Rev. William Armhold, who had served as the Reader at Keneseth Israel for 25 consecutive years. The congregation continued to grow substantially throughout Klein’s term, and he and Rabbi Krauskopf became the primary driving forces behind the move from the building at Sixth and Brown Streets to a new temple on North Broad Street, although Klein died shortly before the congregation moved in. The new building was located on the east side of Broad Street near Montgomery Avenue and cost an estimated $175,000 to build. It was built out of stone in the style of the Italian Renaissance, with a steeple and a dome, and was designed by architects Lewis C. Hickman and O. Frotscher. The auditorium contained over 1,100 seats, and the classrooms and Rabbi Krauskopf’s apartment were located in the back of the synagogue.
David Klein was born in 1832 in Haspot, Bavaria. He was well-known and well liked throughout the city of Philadelphia during his life by Jews and Gentiles alike. He lived at 812 North Eleventh Street, served as Councilman of the Fourteenth Ward, and worked at a firm called David Klein & Co. He participated in several charitable, fraternal, and Jewish organizations including the Masonic fraternity, the United Hebrew Charities, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Order Kesher Shel Barzel, the Orphans’ Guardians, Shelmah Lodge, and the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith District No.3, of which he served as president at the end of his life. Klein died on February 24, 1891. In a testament to his popularity, thousands of people attended his funeral – it was estimated that over 3,000 people were seated in the temple. Rabbi Krauskopf performed the funeral, which was held at Keneseth Israel’s Sixth Street location. His coffin was covered by a Masonic apron inscribed No. 135, from the Roxborough Chapter. He is buried at Mount Sinai Cemetery.