Finchley Reform Synagogue in north London has appointed an openly gay rabbi just five years after it rejected a lesbian Rabbi to be the community’s spiritual head.

The synagogue was embroiled in controversy following the proposal to appoint an openly lesbian Rabbi, Melina Carr in 2000. Her appointment was recommended by the synagogue’s rabbinical committee but was vetoed by the community. The synagogue later apologised to Rabbi Carr for “unwarranted intrusion into aspects of her private life.”

Since the row, the synagogue has made changes to its constitution that allows for a special committee to oversee rabbinical appointments.

Yesterday, they announced that Rabbi Roderick Young, the openly gay assistant rabbi at the West London Synagogue would become the spiritual head of the Finchley community from November of this year.

Rabbi Young married his long term partner in a same-sex Jewish ceremony in Montreal last year.

The chairman of the West London Synagogue, Robert Shrager said that his community will miss Rabbi Young when he makes the move north to Finchley. “We have enjoyed the services of Rabbi Young as a loyal and professional colleague. I am sure I speak for the entire community when I say we are sorry to see him leave and we wish well in his new post at Finchley Reform.

Expressing delight at appointing Finchley’s first gay Rabbi, synagogue chairperson Debbie Jaccobs said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Rabbi Young to lead Finchley Reform Synagogue into an exciting new future and thrilled to have been able to appoint somebody of his calibre as our Principal Rabbi. We hope he will have a long and happy association with Finchley Reform..”

Rabbi Young, an Oxford graduate joins a growing list of openly gay rabbis within the British Jewish community. Both the Reform and Liberal movements accept homosexuality as a part of life and encourage the ordination of openly gay clergy.

Last year, the Liberal Judaism movement became the first mainstream religious group to in Britiain offer gay marriages following the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act.

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