MANHATTAN — Sharon Kleinbaum was installed in 1992 as rabbi of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan.
It's considered the largest LGBT synagogue in the nation, and AIDS was killing thousands of gay New Yorkers each year when she took the job.
That experience has given her strength as the New York now faces the coronavirus outbreak. Yet the pandemic poses challenges that weren’t present during the AIDS crisis.
She’s now fulfilling virtually all her duties without face-to-face contact — conducting services online and consoling grieving congregation members by phone rather than in person.
She mostly works from her apartment in northern Manhattan, 10 miles from the synagogue.