(JTA) — One of Israel’s oldest Conservative congregations became the first Conservative, or Masorti, synagogue in Israel to install an openly gay rabbi.
Rabbi Mikie Goldstein, 49, who completed studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, was installed Thursday as spiritual leader of Congregation 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 Conservative movement in Israel told the Israeli daily Haartez, “Mikie and the rabbinate were meant for each other, and he will be a remarkable pulpit rabbi.”