One of the United Synagogue’s most senior rabbis has decided to stick with his London congregation after turning down the chance to head a major New York synagogue.
Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, who has been with Mill Hill Synagogue for more than 30 years, had been approached by Park East Synagogue last year. He was back in New York over the weekend where he addressed a meeting of the community.
But in a statement released by the United Synagogue this week, he said he was staying put.
“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,” he 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.”
In his recommendation to appoint Rabbi Schochet, the chairman of the synagogue’s search committee had said they were had been looking for “a strong and stately man with the ability to be a leader of the congregation – on and off the bimah”.
Founded in 1888, Park East has been led for more than 50 years by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, who is 92.
But it hit the headlines in 2021 after its assistant rabbi was fired in what the New York Times described as a “synagogue feud”.
Rabbi Schochet, who is from Canada, joined Mill Hill in 1993 after two years at Richmond United. The media-savvy minister is a forthright speaker who was one of the first rabbis to have a blog.
His adherence to the pulpit stands in a contrast to a recent trend of senior US rabbis opting for other roles. Rabbi Harvey Belovski of Golders Green and Rabbi Jonny Hughes of Radlett are leaving for new ventures during this year, while Rabbi David Mason has been appointed executive director of the charity Hias+ JCore.