Gay Masorti rabbi a first for Israel


A Liverpool-born man has become the Israeli Masorti movement's first gay pulpit rabbi.

Mikie Goldstein has been inducted as the rabbi of Congregation Adat Shalom-Emanuel in Rehovot, and has broken new ground for Israel's gay community in two respects.

Rabbi Goldstein's partner, Isi Yanouka, whom he married in the 1990s, is ambassador to the Ivory Coast, making him the first gay spouse of an Israeli envoy.

His sexual orientation "is not something I'm going to talk about every Shabbat", but is an important part of his identity, and he believes that his acceptance as a rabbi sends out an important message about Judaism's inclusivity.

Rabbi Goldstein moved from the UK to Israel aged 24 in 1989 and came out as gay five years later. He felt alienated from the Orthodox community and drifted from religion, until he took a job as the Masorti movement's Director of Resource Development in 2002.

The religious outlook he encountered with Masorti was very different to the one he grew up with at the Orthodox Manchester Jewish Grammar School (now Manchester Mesivta School), and within six years he had decided he wanted to become a rabbi. In 2010 he started his four-year ordination course at New York's Jewish Theological Seminary.

He cites a "theological difference" between him and the Orthodox in reconciling his sexual orientation with Judaism, saying that the Torah reflects values of the ancient world.

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