Rabbi Gil Steinlauf

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf of Adas Israel Comes Out as Gay

(JTA) — Rabbi Gil Steinlauf struggled for decades with an identity that he only acknowledged publicly this week.

On the Monday after Yom Kippur, Steinlauf, the married senior rabbi at Adas Israel — a large and historic Conservative synagogue in Washington, D.C. — announced that he is gay. In a letter sent to congregants, Steinlauf wrote:

Even as a child, Steinlauf recognized a “difference” in himself, he wrote, but never let that difference define him or his choice of a spouse. Steinlauf has been married for 20 years to Rabbi Batya Steinlauf, Director of Social Justice and Interfaith Initiatives at the Jewish Community Relations Council. The Steinlaufs, seen in the video below at a July “Stand Strong With Israel” rally, have three children.

Read Menachem Creditor explain why Gil Steinlauf’s coming out is watershed moment for all Jews

A letter of support from the congregation’s president, Arnie Podgorsky, accompanied Rabbi Gil Steinlauf’s letter. He wrote:

Podgorsky said that Rabbi Steinlauf shared his news with the officers of Adas Israel earlier this fall. “We determined together that he would see the congregation through the High Holy Days in the customary way, and then make his news public,” Podgorsky’s letter stated.

Steinlauf has been the senior rabbi at Adas Israel since 2008, having served previously as a rabbi at Temple Israel in Ridgewood, N.J., and Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus, Ohio. He graduated from Princeton, studied at Pardes Institute in Jerusalem and was ordained in 1998 at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Adas Israel counts among its congregants journalists Jeffrey Goldberg and Franklin Foer. In a post Monday on The Atlantic’s website, Goldberg put Steinlauf’s announcement in context:

Foer, Goldberg wrote, noted that “Rabbi Steinlauf has just discovered the most dramatic possible way to break the Yom Kippur fast.”

A 2006 decision from the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee of Jewish Law and Standards paved the way for the ordination of gay rabbis and the recognition of same-sex unions in the Conservative movement.

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Rabbi Gil Steinlauf of Adas Israel Comes Out as Gay

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