Zalman Kleinman was born in Leningrad in 1933. Despite a childhood filled with war and anti-Semitism in politics, Kleinman’s work is not filled with sadness or tragic recollections. Rather he sought to evoke the tenacity of the Chassidic culture that refused to succumb to hardships in communist Russia.
At the age of 13, Kleinman left Russia to travel with a group of Polish Jews through Displaced Persons’ camps, finally settled in France for three years at a yeshiva in Paris. Kleinman then traveled to Israel and joined the army as an artist for the military rabbinate after studying in Paris. His artist’s studies where briefly sponsored by Zalman Shazar, the third president of Israel, before Kleinman made the decision to develop his talents without formal training.
After several years in Israel, Kleinman returned to Paris, where he met and married his wife Rosa. The Kleinmans settled in Crown Heights, Brooklyn after having traveled to New York, where they would raise a family. Kleinman illustrated books and magazines while developing a reputation as a painter and was able to support his family as an artist. He was very highly respected in the Chassidic community of his artistic talents and strong faith and resided in Crown Heights until his death in 1995.