(New York Jewish Week) — Days after Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet gave a lecture at Park East Synagogue that led to a confrontation with a member over his views, Schochet announced that he will be staying at his synagogue in London.
Schochet, a Chabad-affiliated rabbi who has served as rabbi of London’s Mill Hill United Synagogue for three decades, released a statement on Thursday confirming that he will not be moving to Park East Synagogue, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
“I am flattered that the prestigious Park East Synagogue courted me and that the search committee and eminent rabbi offered me the job in principle, subject to community vote,” Schochet said. “But I have written to the search committee this morning to thank them and decline the offer because the amazing Mill Hill community has been and will remain home.”
A Park East Synagogue member had previously told the New York Jewish Week that no hiring decisions have yet been made.
Park East Synagogue, an Orthodox congregation located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, has been embroiled in an ongoing debate over who will replace its 92-year-old spiritual leader, Rabbi Arthur Schneier. More than a year ago, the synagogue ousted its popular assistant rabbi, Benjamin Goldschmidt, who was seen by some as Schneier’s heir.
Schochet, as a candidate for the position, delivered an hour-long lecture to a crowd of 100 people at the synagogue on Sunday, including members of the search committee. But following the talk, a member of the audience, Kalman Sporn, criticized Schochet for his past public opposition to same-sex marriage. Schochet responded by accusing Sporn of engaging in “cancel culture.” Sporn had also previously criticized Schochet on Twitter for his rhetoric regarding Palestinians and their Jewish advocates.
Schochet subsequently apologized to Sporn after facing pushback from another congregant.