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.