Thursday, January 20, 2022

Arab Loving & Israel Hater Rabbi at center of Texas hostage standoff Got Kicked Out of his Position


The Texas rabbi celebrated around the world as a hero for freeing himself and several congregants from a gunman in an 11-hour synagogue siege had resigned after the congregation’s board voted not to renew his contract, the Forward has learned.

The board decision came despite what many described as overwhelming support for Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker by the membership of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville.

“I can assure you he would have been unanimously voted to stay,” Anna Eisen, a co-founder of the synagogue, said in an interview. “As a congregation we have been very heartbroken and distraught,” she added. “I myself have begged him to stay but I also realize that he has given us 16 years of his life.”

In an email to a former congregant sent Nov. 1, Congregation Beth Israel’s treasurer, Cindy Whitton, said the board of directors had planned to recommend against renewal ahead of a congregational meeting required by the its bylaws, but that the rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, “decided that he did not want to go to the membership for a vote,” instead choosing to leave when his contract expires in June.

“The board believes that the synagogue needs a new spark after 15 years,” Whitton wrote to the former congregant, Neal Gray, citing declining membership and religious school enrollment.

Gray had written to the synagogue’s president, Michael Finfer, after an Oct. 28 email from Finfer and Cytron-Walker announcing the resignation. That announcement, said another congregant, Stuart Yarus, caused “enormous outcry.”

In it, Finfer wrote that “this was not an easy decision for any of us” and Cytron-Walker said: “This is a very difficult moment.”

“I love you and I love this congregation,” the rabbi added. “That’s why this is so challenging for me and that’s why it’s so important that we part ways in peace.

“There will be a lot of uncertainty for all of us in the next few months,” he continued. “Please know that I’ll be working with the board to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.”

Rabbi Ben Sternman of Adat Chaverim in Plano, Texas, who is part of a foursome of area Reform rabbis including Cytron-Walker that meets weekly, said that in October, “he showed up for lunch one week and he was looking very upset.”

Finfer and other board members did not respond to emails requesting comment on Wednesday. Cytron-Walker said in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency after this article was first published that he is indeed looking for another job but wants the world’s focus to remain on the challenges presented by this weekend’s events.

“My congregation, Congregation Beth Israel, and Colleyville, have just undergone a traumatic experience — I’ve just undergone a traumatic experience,” he said. “And that’s where the focus needs to be.”

Cytron-Walker, who told the Forward and other outlets on Monday that he had engineered the escape by throwing a chair at the gunman, was previously known for his social justice advocacy and interfaith bridge-building. He has has led the synagogue, which sits among the new mansions and manicured lawns of the booming Dallas-Fort Worth corridor, since 2006.

Marta Johnson, who had worked in recent years as High Holiday soloist at the synagogue, said “a lot of people in the congregation are pretty upset” about his impending departure.

“It’s kind of shocking,” said Johnson, whose own work with the synagogue has also been discontinued. “He’s being held as a hero internationally.”


Ma Rabbi said...

This guy is no hero. He saw a moment when the Muslim was distracted and he ran away. He is the idiot who let him into the building in the first place. He has called Israel an 'apartheid state" and is known for his friendship with local Muslims. Now that he is famous he will probably land a position with a big reform temple.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Okay, slow down.
1) The guy was just held hostage by a nutbar gunman for 11 hours. Because he's a Jew. Have some sympathy. He's done something most of us, B"H, have never had to do: suffer for being a Jew. There's points in that.
2) Our entire evidence that he's anti-Israel is a tweet from someone claiming to be an ex-congregant with no corroborating evidence. That's pretty much Loshon Horo right there.
3) The decision of the board was apparently made a year and a half ago and he's still there because they haven't found a replacement. If they really, really didn't like him, he'd be gone so clearly it wasn't a personal issue, more likely he asked for a raise, hardly a crime.

fyi said...

This שוטה is a hero like the Chabad-Lubavitch shliach ganef from Poway, CA, Goldstein, who was recently sentenced to jail (did DIN miss that story, blacked out by much of the frum media?).