Leaders of a storied Upper East Side synagogue once visited by Pope Benedict fired a rabbi who had been in a power struggle with the temple’s longtime leader for allegedly disclosing the “non-public” list of its congregants, sources told The Post.
The Park East Synagogue, led by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor, “terminated” 34-year-old Assistant Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt over the breach of confidentiality, according to a letter sent to congregants Friday.
“On Sunday, October 10th, a meeting was held in the Synagogue with Assistant Rabbi Goldschmidt, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, myself and a respected leader of the congregation. At this meeting, Assistant Rabbi Goldschmidt unequivocally admitted to taking and disseminating, the full, non-public contact list of all synagogue members as well as parents of the Day School to two individuals that he has aligned himself with,” alleged the synagogue’s board president, Herman Hochberg.
“Assistant Rabbi Goldschmidt did this without first discussing it with and getting the approval from Rabbi Schneier or myself. Moreover, he did this without asking the permission of the individuals and families who were contacted — an obligation that the Synagogue takes seriously.
Hochberg told congregants and families of the synagogue’s day school — named after Rabbi Schneier — that Goldschmidt “refused to apologize for his rogue actions” and vowed to continue to release the list of congregants to others affiliated with Park East community.
Goldschmidt, according to Hochberg’s letter, “refused to return this confidential information” and instead hired a lawyer to “threaten our institution in connection to his dismissal.
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Goldschmidt’s firing was fueled by a dispute over the direction of the 133-year-old synagogue.
Four synagogue members sent a joint email out to the members list titled, “The future of Park East Synagogue,” JTA’s report said.
While praising Schneier’s leadership for 50 years, the email expressed concern about the synagogue’s future.
The report said some congregants have protested Goldschmidt’s ouster.
Goldschmidt declined requests for comment.
Pope Benedict XVI visited the Park East Synagogue in 2008.