Central Synagogue appoints first Asian-American rabbi to top post

NEW YORK (JTA) — The board of Central Synagogue, one of North America’s largest Reform congregations, recommended the first Asian-American rabbi to be its top spiritual leader.

The board of the Manhattan congregation voted unanimously to recommend Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl for the top post, effective summer 2014. Synagogue members are expected to approve the choice at a special meeting in January. She will replace Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, who is retiring.

Buchdahl, who was an ordained cantor before becoming a rabbi, has served as the senior cantor at the 2,400-member congregation since 2006. She has been featured multiple times in the Newsweek/Daily Beast annual list of 50 Most Influential American Rabbis.

Born in South Korea in 1972 to an American-Jewish father and Korean-Buddhist mother, Buchdahl grew up in Tacoma, Wash., and was raised Jewish.

In a letter to congregants announcing the appointment, David Edelson, Central’s president, described Buchdahl as “one of the movement’s leading lights” and noted that search committee members were impressed by her “vision for deepening our engagement as a congregation” and the “intellectual rigor and Jewish scholarship and insight that she brought to bear on virtually every topic we discussed.” Edeldon also promised that Buchdahl will continue to sing at worship services.

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