Our Rabbi

Rabbi Stephen Wise Goodman

Rabbi Goodman pictureRabbi Goodman was born in Lima, Ohio, and grew up in Columbus, Georgia. His father, Alfred, a leader of civil rights activities, was the Rabbi of Temple Israel of Columbus for 33 years, and his mother Rayna was a librarian in the Columbus public schools. He attended Yale University, graduating cum laude with a B.A. in English literature, and then studied for the rabbinate at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religions, becoming ordained in 1978.

Rabbi Goodman’s first congregation was at Temple Shalom in Floral Park New York, where the cantor introduced him to Linda Beth Henry, a professional pianist just enrolling at the Hebrew Union College. Eleven months after their first date at the ballet, they were married on a radiant June afternoon. While Linda started her rabbinic studies in Jerusalem, Steve served a small congregation in Beersheba, and also attended classes in Jerusalem.

Linda went on to serve as the first female rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan, received a Doctor of Ministry degree in 1999, and serves as Rabbi emerita at Union Temple in Brooklyn.

Rabbi Stephen Goodman has served as an assistant Rabbi in Short Hills, New Jersey, and was active in pro-choice and hunger relief organizations. In 1985, he decided to become a lawyer and pursue his interest in social action. He enrolled at the Law School of New York University, receiving a scholarship for students planning to work in the public interest. Since 1988, when he graduated from law school, he has worked for the New York City Housing Authority, specializing in civil rights issues, and he has been a member of the board of the Nassau County chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

A truly significant event happened in 1985, when Rabbi Stephen Wise Goodman became the “part-time” Rabbi of the Garden City Jewish Center. Our Rabbi is an inspiring leader for all of our varied Congregation, young or old, well educated in Judaism or not, with or without a Jewish spouse. Although he seems ubiquitous in our community, he is really only a “part-time” Rabbi:

  • Part of his time is spent leading our regular Sabbath services.
  • Part of his time is spent leading Sabbath morning Torah study for a group of regulars.
  • Part of his time is spent leading special children’s services, holiday and festival services, and Passover and Tu B’shvat sedars.
  • Part of his time he spent leading and teaching the children of our Hebrew school and Bar and Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation students.
  • Part of his time is spent teaching every Religious School student Hebrew via Zoom.
  • Part of his time is spent leading adult Bat Mitzvah classes.
  • Part of his time is spent writing a series of articles on Judaism for our Bulletin.
  • Part of his time is spent representing our synagogue at community functions, the Clergy Fellowship of Garden City, the Interfaith Nutrition Network, and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

In his spare time, of course, he is a devoted son, husband and father.

Each of his “part-time” activities is carried out with talent, enthusiasm, creativity and love. We are extraordinarily pleased to have Rabbi Stephen Goodman as our treasured leader.