The Jewish community of Harford County, joined by those across Maryland, the United States and in Israel, felt a great loss on Monday with the death Andrew P. Klein, the president and CEO of Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland and national treasurer for the Jewish National Fund (JNF) who was killed in a 12-vehicle crash on Ring Factory Road near Bel Air. He was 65.
Those close to Klein described him as a man of humility and integrity, whose many philanthropic and charitable projects were big and small, public and private.
Klein, a resident of Forrest Hill and a longtime member of Temple Adas Shalom in Havre De Grace, avidly studied Jewish texts and tutored b’nai mitzvah students from his synagogue. According to Rabbi Gila Ruskin, spiritual leader at Temple Adas Shalom, this was only one of many mitzvahs Klein did for the temple.
“Most recently we did a building renovation and he spearheaded that project. He donated money but he also motivated others to donate and to become involved,” Ruskin said. “He spoke very passionately every year during High Holidays at our congregation about his commitment to Israel and his commitment to the Jewish community and our congregation.”
Throughout his life, Klein held many positions with JNF. The 12-vehicle crash, which included a ShopRite tractor-trailer, also killed 7-year-old Tripp Johnson of Joppa. It occurred while Klein was headed to New York City for a JNF meeting.
Diane Scar, JNF national campaign director and a Baltimore resident, said that for 25 years Klein has been an exemplary member of JNF and a close friend.
“He was the most sincere, the most humble person of the highest integrity. He thrived in his work with the Jewish National Fund and tackled his work as the national treasurer with the highest regard,” Scar said. “Andy only wanted to help the world become a better place.”
Rabbi Kushi Schusterman, spiritual leader of Harford County Chabad, the only other synagogue in the county, described Klein as more than a donor. He was a friend and mentor.
“When we moved to Harford County, I visited Temple Adas Shalom. Andy said to me then, and this is a direct quote, ‘If you’re looking for the Promised Land, this is the wilderness.’ He would regularly tell me that,” Schusterman said. “He guided me on a lot of things that we should do, and what we needed to do and what I should be better at. I’m going to miss him and his friendship.”
Klein’s ShopRite in Bel Air partnered with Schusterman beginning in 2012 to develop a website called harfordkosher.org in order to meet the rising demand of kosher food in Harford County.
Schusterman noted that the majority of Klein’s philanthropy wasn’t specifically Jewish. Klein has been credited with helping establish a hospital in Bel Air and being a community partner for the Harford Crisis Center, a behavioral health and addiction counseling service. Many of Klein’s good works are perhaps still unknown.
“I think as the year goes on people will slowly find out a lot of things he was involved with that a lot of people didn’t know about,” Schusterman said. “He didn’t advertise all of his good works.”
Klein is survived by wife Jayne Klein (nee Zion); children Marshall (Rachel) Klein, Sarah Klein and Rachel Klein; brothers Michael (Clara) Klein and Howard (Susan) Klein; granddaughter Sasha Ruth Klein; and nieces and nephews Samuel, Jacob, Stephen, David and Victoria Klein, and Evan and Ryan Keyser. He was predeceased by his parents Shirley and Ralph Klein.
Contributions in his memory may be sent to Jewish National Fund, 78 Randall Ave., Rockville Centre, NY 11570 or Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation, Inc. 520 Upper Chesapeake Drive, Suite 405 Bel Air, MD 21014-4324.
This story is developing.