Steinlauf tapped as Kol Shalom rabbi

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, who stepped down as rabbi of Adas Israel Congregation in 2017, was tapped on Feb. 1 to lead Kol Shalom in Rockville beginning in July. He will succeed Rabbi Jonathan Maltzman, who is retiring and will become rabbi emeritus.

A vote by the 250-family congregation a few weeks ago supported hiring Steinlauf “by an overwhelming majority” — in the 90-percent range, Marc Lieber, president of the Conservative congregation, said Monday.

Lieber said Kol Shalom picked Steinlauf for “his experience, his sophistication, his leadership. He knows his stuff rabbinically.”

Congregants said that Steinlauf was the only candidate Kol Shalom considered seriously.

Steinlauf, 50, said he was “extremely excited to be the new rabbi at Kol Shalom,” which he called a “powerhouse community.”

After eight years as Adas Israel’s senior rabbi, Steinlauf stepped down to take a position with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Conservative movement’s seminaries to promote innovation within the movement.

Steinlauf also became director of the Hineni Fellowship for LGBTQ Jewish Leadership. He came out as gay in 2014.

Last fall he became the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s scholar-in-residence.

He said that during that time he explored leading other congregations.

Maltzman was Kol Shalom’s founding rabbi and has been with the congregation 18 years. Some synagogues whose founding or longtime rabbi leaves hire an interim rabbi to help the congregation’s transition from the departed rabbi’s way of doing things.

Lieber said the idea of an interim rabbi “came up. It was not a path we wanted to take.”

As a candidate for rabbi, Steinlauf led services on Jan. 5. He told the congregation that his experience at Adas Israel prepared him for Kol Shalom’s transition from Maltzman’s leadership.

“I’m ready for anything you throw at me,” he said.

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