Hawaii's Largest Temple Beset by Infighting

New Leader Takes Over at Honolulu's Temple Emanu-El

By JTA

Published August 28, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Hawaii’s largest temple, beset by synagogue politics that spurred a violent incident and allegations of “Nazi-like propaganda,” cemented the ouster of its rabbi with the election of a new board.

Cliff Halevi won Sunday’s election, becoming the new board president of Honolulu’s Temple Emanu-El, the only Reform temple on the island of Oahu.

In May, the congregation narrowly voted not to renew the contract of Rabbi Peter Schaktman, which expires in June. During the vote, police were called to the temple after a male temple member allegedly forced a female member to the ground during an argument over a third congregant recording the meeting on video, according to reports by the local Star Advertiser paper and The Associated Press.

Leading up to the election, Halevi’s mother sent an email that featured images of a swastika and Adolf Hitler, alleging that her son had been the subject of “Nazi-like propaganda,” reported the Star Advertiser.

In the last year, Temple Emanu-El lost 60 of its 230 member families.

“The temple is in debt because people have left and voted with their feet,” said Alice Tucker, a congregant of 51 years and former board president in the 1980s who lost her re-election bid on Sunday.

Tucker also told the Star Adviser that she heard temple members say of Schaktman, who is gay, that “he should go back to San Francisco and be with his kind.”

“No one has ever made an issue of that to me, even indirectly,” Schaktman told the Honolulu paper. “I’m gay, and the people who hired me knew that I was gay. I didn’t announce it to the congregation, but it wasn’t a secret.”

Halevi will reportedly begin work on finding a successor and raising the financial means to replace Schaktman.

“The people who won this election have been consistent in their unwillingness to work with me,” Schaktman told the Star Adviser about his potential involvement in assisting with finding a successor. “Should they be willing to work with me, I will do my best to support a constructive and healing process with the congregation.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.