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Rabbi Emeritus Ezra M. Finkelstein


Rabbi Ezra Finkelstein served as Rabbi of the Midway Jewish Center 1976-1999. Ezra "Mike" Finkelstein was born to Carmel and Louis Finkelstein in the city of New York. His early education was in the Public School of New York, including Bronx High School of Science. Ezra enlisted in the United States Army in 1944, studied at New York University until placed on active service in April1945. He served for a year in the Army of Occupation in Japan. Returning to civilian life Ezra studied at Columbia University as an undergraduate in Columbia College, and then doing graduate work in the School of International Affairs, where he received a Masters in International Affairs in 1952.

Married to Elaine Samuels, in 1952 Ezra began his life in Jewish communal service with the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and then as a Fund raiser for the United Jewish Appeal.

Deciding to enter the Rabbinate, Ezra studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary from 1956 -1961, when he was ordained and received as Master in Hebrew Literature. Beginning service as a Rabbi, Ezra served as Assistant to Rabbi A.M. Heller at the Flatbush Jewish Center for two years before assuming the pulpit of Town and village Synagogue in Manhattan. After serving the congregation for three years, he was elected to be Rabbi of the Whitestone Hebrew Center in Queens where his three children attended the Solomon Schechter School. In the decade he served in Queens, Rabbi Finkelstein was involved in communal affairs, particularly during the teachers strike and the issue of housing in Queens. He also spent summers working with the Ramah Camps and the United Synagogue Youth programs.

Following the death of Rabbi Bernard Rubenstein, Midway Jewish Center elected Ezra to be its spiritual leader. During the twenty three years that he served in that capacity he had a major role in the transforming of the congregation into an egalitarian one. Ezra was also involved in the activities of the Interfaith Clergy Council of Syosset and in participating in Brotherhood Services. For the years of work as a pulpit Rabbi Ezra was honored by his congregation, the Israel Bond Organization, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. The Seminary also bestowed on him an Honorary Doctorate in 1996 for his 25 years of service to the Jewish People. Rabbi Finkelstein retired from active service and from the Midway Jewish Center in June 1999.