Conservative shul in Israel installs gay rabbi

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One of Israel’s oldest Conservative congregations has become the first Conservative, or Masorti, synagogue in Israel to install an openly gay rabbi.

Rabbi Mikie Goldstein photo/facebook

Rabbi Mikie Goldstein, 49, who completed studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, was installed Sept. 11 as spiritual leader of Congrega-tion Adat Shalom-Emanuel in Rehovot. Goldstein, a native of Liverpool, England, moved to Israel in 1989 at the age of 24. He began his rabbinical studies at JTS in 2010.

“From my point of view, gender identity is not an issue,” Goldstein said. “What was important for our congregation was a rabbi who could teach and do outreach, and I believe that’s why they chose me. Being gay wasn’t an issue.”

The 160-family congregation where Goldstein will serve is located in Rehovot, where he and his partner of 20 years, Isi Yanouka — Israel’s ambassador to the Ivory Coast — live.

Yizhar Hess, executive director of the Conserv-ative movement in Israel told the Israeli daily Haaretz, “Mikie and the rabbinate were meant for each other, and he will be a remarkable pulpit rabbi.”

Four years ago, when Goldstein began his studies at JTS, the Masorti movement’s Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Israel was not yet admitting LGBT students. But Masorti shifted its stance in April 2012, making a landmark ruling that paved the way for Israeli-trained lesbian and gay rabbis to join the Conservative movement in Israel. — jta