Rabbi Jonathan Pearl, Ph.D.
Jonathan Pearl has been the Rabbi of the Astoria Center of Israel since the Fall of 2008, spearheading a resurgence of the synagogue with his dynamic leadership, warmth, and passion for Judaism. Eagerly drawing upon ACI’s proud and unique nearly 90-year history in the area, while simultaneously seizing upon Astoria’s current renaissance, Rabbi Pearl has infused the synagogue with fresh energy and optimism, attracting new members to a synagogue that today has a sense of excitement and rejuvenation, forging ahead with great vision and enthusiasm.
Teacher, spiritual guide, and musician/composer, Rabbi Pearl’s thoughtful and welcoming approach, and musical and involving services, are inspiring and engender deeper connections to Judaism. A graduate of the Academy for Jewish Religion, the nation’s oldest pluralistic rabbinical seminary, Rabbi Pearl was ordained before a beit din composed of a Reform rabbi, a Conservative rabbi, and an Orthodox rabbi – in an historic first. Following ordination, he was awarded the prestigious year-long Fellowship at “CLAL,” the Jewish think-tank founded by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg.
Rabbi Pearl earned his Ph.D. in the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science. He co-wrote The Chosen Image: Popular TV’s Portrayals of Jewish Themes and Characters, the first-ever book on this topic, and co-founded the Jewish Televimages Resource Center, a media research group. An award-winning author, he has written and been featured in numerous articles and publications nationwide, and has lectured throughout the country.
Among his roles serving the wider community, Rabbi Pearl is an active chaplain for Disaster Chaplaincy Services, and serves on its Leadership Team; he is a Clergy Liaison with the NYPD (New York City Police Department); he serves on the Community Advisory Board of Mt. Sinai Queens Hospital; and is a member of the Board of Governors of the New York Board of Rabbis. His work at ACI has been featured in the Astoria press, and on New York radio and TV stations.
Rabbi Pearl and his wife Judy have three children. Judy Pearl has worked alongside Rabbi Pearl in energizing ACI, through many roles at the synagogue, including her post as Co-Chair of the Outreach/ Events Committee. Their children also all have very active roles in the synagogue, through teaching, spearheading ACI's renewed Hebrew school (MASKIT) and social media outreach, and singing, playing musical instruments,and reading Torah at services.
Cantor George Lindenblatt
Cantor George Lindenblatt has been with the Astoria Center of Israel for more than 40 years. He is one of the few cantors who can say they were raised in an Orthodox family, graduated from a Reform cantorial school, and now serve a Conservative synagogue. It is perhaps this diverse background that accounts for his ability to reach out, with genuine heart, to a wide spectrum of people within the Jewish community. Here at ACI, he is not only our melodious voice of prayer on the bimah but a friend and counselor to many.
Cantor George was born in Budapest on the eve of World War II. Escaping the country following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he settled in New York where he earned a Bachelor of Sacred Music degree from Hebrew Union College. His wife, writer Elaine Freed Lindenblatt, is our long time bulletin editor. Their family includesdaughter Eve, her husband John Nasetti, and their children Daniella and Francesco; daughter Suzanne, her husband Boaz Gilad, and their children Noa, Ella, and Benjamin; and daughter Nicole and her husband Paul Kahn.