(And Why His Congregation Should Cheer Him)

By Risë Birnbaum

As a PR vet I’ve always been a fan of transparency.  Telling it straight is almost always the best route.  In this case, my Rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation in DC recently came to the same conclusion — that telling it straight was the best way to go.

So, Rabbi Gil Steinlauf drafted a letter and posted it, saying that after 20 years of marriage, he and his wife were getting a divorce.  As I read that on my Facebook page last night I was mildly surprised he was divorcing.  And then my articulate Rabbi dropped the other red Converse when he added, “I have come to understand that I am gay.”  That stopped me in my tracks.

It’s not often that your conservative Rabbi comes out of the closet.  That took guts.

It seems the Rabbi has always been confused about his sexuality, yet felt compelled to marry the woman he loved and who has loved him, despite knowing his story all along.

Now, Rabbi Gil Steinlauf is not just any Rabbi.  He’s a Princeton grad who’s whip-smart, both down-to-earth, worldy and just an all-round mensch.

Can you imagine how he felt just a moment before hitting the send button on this life-altering news?  Again, it took major league cojones, a family deeply rooted in love and committed to one another and a very supportive congregation.

And as I look at the thousands of supportive notes and tweets I’m blown away by the community’s kindness.  That’s exactly what the Rabbi deserves.

He chose to change his life at a time when he has runway left to find happiness and achieve a complete sense of personal honesty.  Can you imagine the relief?

I stand completely in his, and his family’s, corner and am far from alone.  I take comfort in the fact that I stand with thousands of other proud and understanding Jews at this groundbreaking moment and hope the Rabbi gives courage to others who are hesitant to just push “send.”

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