Updated April 20, 12:55 p.m.
Rabbi Gil Steinlauf of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington announced today that he will be leaving the Conservative congregation.
Steinlauf, who in his eight years at Adas Israel tried to rejuvenate the synagogue with what he called a “vision of renewal” and hosted big names such as the Dalai Lama, who spoke there in 2009, and President Barack Obama, who addressed the community in 2015, told his congregation in an email that he will be launching a new initiative for the Conservative movement.
“This decision has not been an easy one — I love Adas Israel deeply, and remain committed to its future success. It is this commitment to Adas and what our vision stands for that leads me to broaden my work and reach more people in new ways,” he wrote in the email.
Steinlauf has assumed a temporary role as senior rabbinic adviser, congregation President Debby Joseph wrote in a letter that accompanied Steinlauf’s announcement, implying that he has stepped down as senior rabbi of the congregation, which has 1,550 member families.
Joseph added that Steinlauf will continue to perform some pulpit responsibilities through the High Holidays of 2017. He will remain in his advisory role through June 2018.
In 2014, Steinlauf received national attention when he came out as gay despite having been married to a woman for more than 20 years.
At the time, Steinlauf, whom the Adas Israel website describes as the first senior rabbi at a major Conservative synagogue to come out as gay, received the public support of the Adas Israel leadership with then-president Arnie Podgorsky writing to the congregation, “Together with the other officers of Adas Israel, I stand with Rabbi Steinlauf.”
In his new role, Steinlauf will work with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Conservative movement’s seminaries to promote innovation within the movement.
This is a developing story.