Gay Conservative Rabbi, A 2014 Victory

To mark eight days of Hanukkah, Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz looks at the eight major victories for non-Orthodox Judaism in 2014, and Rabbi Mikie Goldstein becoming the first gay rabbi in a conservative congregation in Israel is one of them.

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Despite a few setbacks, this year showed signs of growing, though at times begrudging, acceptance of Israel’s Reform and Conservative movements.

4. First gay Conservative rabbiIsrael’s Conservative-Masorti movement got its first openly gay congregational rabbi this year, when Mikie Goldstein was installed as spiritual leader of Congregation Adat Shalom-Emanuel in Rehovot. The ordination of gays rabbis has long been a divisive issue among Conservative Jews, and it was only two years ago that the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, which is affiliated with the movement, began admitting gay and lesbian students. Born in Liverpool, Goldstein belonged to the national-religious Bnei Akiva youth movement before moving to Israel in 1989. He has been married for the past 20 years to Isi Yanouka, a veteran diplomat who today is Israel’s ambassador to the Ivory Coast. Asked to comment on his appointment, Goldstein said that being gay was simply “not an issue.”

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