Dr. Dan Kliman of Oakland was a ubiquitous presence at Bay Area pro-Israel demonstrations. His remains were discovered in a San Francisco elevator shaft on Monday, Dec. 1
Rumors swirling about demise of fiery pro-Israel activist Dr. Dan Kliman
By Joe Eskenazi
A family member of Dr. Dan Kliman confirmed to SF Weekly that a San Francisco Police inspector told him the police have "evidence" that Kliman died attempting to climb out of a stuck elevator in the historic Sharon Building at 55 New Montgomery Street.
Kliman's body was discovered Monday, Dec. 1 at the bottom of the shaft. Building management has told the media security cameras caught Kliman entering the elevator back on Tuesday, Nov. 25. Kliman had long taken an Arabic class on the seventh floor of the building -- he often recorded Arabic chants at local demonstrations and posted translations online. It is unclear why Kliman was in the building, as the week's class had been canceled.
Almost as soon as the 38-year-old Oakland doctor's identity was released today, his friends and colleagues began uneasily speculating that Kliman was the victim of foul play. While the San Francisco Chronicle article inexplicably characterized him as quiet and withdrawn, Kliman was, in actuality, an ardently right-wing Zionist who loudly confronted pro-Palestinian demonstrators. He was not conflict-averse; Kliman would argue vociferously with anti-Zionists and, according to friends, had gotten into physical confrontations and received death threats.
"I am very suspicious as are a number of people from San Francisco Voice For Israel," confirmed close friend Marshall Schwartz. Added Kliman's S.F. Voice for Israel colleague Ross Meltzer, "Dan was too intelligent for such a stupid accident. Wrong guy."
Sgt. Wilfred Williams, the SFPD's public information officer, would not release any details of the case, except to say the investigation was ongoing. Steve Gelman, the administrator at the city medical examiner's office, would only say the cause of death is pending. Calls to the police inspector investigating the death, Matt Krimsky, were not returned today, but a family member of Kliman's said Krimsky shared with him the aforementioned details that will go into an official report.
"There's this perception that [Kliman] walked into an elevator shaft. He was in the elevator," said the family member, who insisted upon anonymity.
Kliman's funeral is scheduled for Friday in his native Schenectady, New York. Gelman would not confirm that his office informed the Kliman family that the body would be ready by that time.
Kliman's medical colleagues eventually called his synagogue, Oakland's Beth Jacob Congregation, inquiring about his whereabouts on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving day, however, Kliman was scheduled to take a short trip to Israel, so none of his friends thought it odd that he wasn't around. The Sharon Building was also closed for the week, which helps explain why Kliman's remains were not found until Monday.
Kliman was an extremely complicated man. In addition to his ardent Israel activism he was an equally ardent bicycle activist who did not own a car and pedaled everywhere he went. He was also a gay man who was open about his sexuality with his friends and fellow congregants at his modern Orthodox congregation.
"Dan was a very lively, alive, active, vibrant person," said Beth Jacob's Rabbi Judah Dardik. "The idea of someone who was so alive not being alive anymore is a complete shocker."
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