Rabbi held hostage at Colleyville’s Congregation Beth Israel plans to leave job in June

·2 min read

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, leader of Congregation Beth Israel for the last 16 years, will be leaving the synagogue in June, according to news reports.

Cytron-Walker, who was held hostage for nearly 11 hours at Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday, announced last fall that he would not continue as leader of the congregation after its board voted not to renew his contract, according to Jewish news outlet Forward.

His last day will be in June.

Jennifer Farmer, a spokeswoman for Congregation Beth Israel, told the Star-Telegram that Cytron-Walker’s focus, and the focus of the rest of his congregation, is on healing.

“The Rabbi, his family, congregation and broader community must do the difficult work of picking up the pieces and moving forward,” Farmer said in an emailed statement to the Star-Telegram. “That’s where everyone’s energy is. While the Rabbi was planning to transition, right now he just wants to heal.”

In another statement to the Dallas Morning News, Farmer said, “In terms of his transition, he has served this congregation for nearly two decades, and he has made tremendous sacrifices on behalf of the community. Regardless of where he lands, most people will still consider him their friend and rabbi.”

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was one of the four people held hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville on Saturday, will be stepping down as leader of the congregation in June.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was one of the four people held hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville on Saturday, will be stepping down as leader of the congregation in June.

According to an email sent to the congregation on Nov. 2 and obtained by Forward, Cytron-Walker “decided that he did not want to go to the membership for a vote” after he learned the synagogue’s board would be recommending his contract not be renewed.

Cindy Whitton, the congregation’s treasurer, wrote to a former congregant in an email obtained by Forward that, “The board believes the synagogue needs a new spark after 15 years.” She cited declining membership and religious school enrollment, according to Forward.

According to Forward, Cytron-Walker and Congregation Beth Israel began working with the Union for Reform Judaism in November to seek another pulpit and congregation for him and an interim rabbi for the synagogue. The synagogue had rabbinic search committee meetings on Jan. 9 and Jan. 13, according to its calendar.

Cytron-Walker did not immediately reply to Star-Telegram requests for comment.

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