DC synagogue that had Obama as speaker hires co-senior rabbis


(JTA) — A Washington, D.C., synagogue that hosted President Barack Obama for a speech and counted Congress members and Cabinet officials as members has hired co-senior rabbis.

Adas Israel announced Monday that it hired Rabbis Lauren Holtzblatt and Aaron Alexander to succeed Gil Steinlauf, who left the congregation four months ago to create an Innovation Lab for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Steinlauf had brought in Obama to speak in 2015 and a year later Vice President Joe Biden.

Also last year, he was among the Washington-area rabbis urging President Donald Trump to “reconsider” his campaign rhetoric and “the hate crimes it may have unleashed.”

In 2014 Steinlauf, who was married at the time, came out as gay to his congregation.

Several Israeli ambassadors to the U.S. beginning with Yitzhak Rabin during his tenure also worshipped at Adas Israel, which is part of the Conservative movement.

Adas Israel President Ricki Gerger in the announcement of the new leadership said Holtzblatt and Alexander “are already recognized as two of the most celebrated and prominent rabbis in the nation, and as role models for clergy working in our movement and beyond.”

“They have both distinguished themselves as scholars, teachers, innovators, leaders, and as individuals of extraordinary sensitivity and caring,” he said.

The rabbis already have been working together at the congregation.

“While this partnership model is new to Adas Israel, it is not new to these two rabbis, nor to the synagogue world as a whole, Gerger said.

During her association with the congregation, Holtzblatt has revitalized its caretaking and bereavement efforts, co-created the MakomDC adult learning curriculum and led the “Return Again” worship services, the announcement said. She also has directed the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington. She previously served as the director of campus initiatives and as associate rabbi at the Yale University Hillel.

Alexander served for 10 years as associate dean and lecturer in rabbinic and Jewish law at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. He is a sitting member of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for the Conservative movement, the governing body determining Jewish law and practice for the movement.

We can think of no better way to greet the coming Days of Awe than by sharing the following announcement from our…

Posted by Adas Israel Congregation – Washington, DC on Monday, September 18, 2017

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