The departure of Cantor Dan Sklar from Temple Israel earlier this month surprised members of the congregation.
But, he says, the notion that he resigned — and that officials did all they could to retain him — is “a complete fabrication.”
In a video released yesterday, Sklar — who also earned a dual degree as a rabbi at Hebrew Union College — calls the temple’s version of events “disingenuous.” He says he was threatened with termination because of anger issues.
Sklar does not deny those issues. They are real, he says — and the result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Sklar studied for the cantorate in Jerusalem during a period of intense suicide bombings. He saw their aftermath.
In his years at Temple Israel, Sklar says, he had several “outbursts of emotion.” They were related to issues of building security and COVID-19 — for example, threats by intruders, and unmasked people in the sanctuary. They were directed at colleagues and staff members, not congregants, he says.
In the video, he describes the pain of being barred by the temple from co-officiating at a funeral — and having no contact with the grieving family. He was also prohibited from contact with students he was preparing for bar and bat mitzvahs.
Sklar expresses gratitude to the many families and friends for the support they’ve shown. Despite losing his job — and his family’s health insurance — in the midst of a global pandemic, Sklar smiles a bit at the end.
Recalling Sabbath services on the beach, and “sharing life’s joys and trials,” he notes that being a cantor and rabbi “is not a job. It is who I am.”
Click below to see Dan Sklar’s video:
Last night, Temple Israel’s board of trustees emailed the congregation:
We are heartbroken to have to write this letter this evening.
We all recognize the imprint Cantor Sklar has had on our congregation and will cherish the memories we have of him. We know how important he has been to you and your family in times of celebration and mourning alike. We assure you that he has had a similar role in our own lives. He has deeply enriched the fabric of our community.
We are disappointed that Cantor Sklar has chosen to mischaracterize certain events that culminated in his departure from Temple Israel.
Unfortunately, over the course of recent years, Cantor Sklar exhibited behavior that resulted in a number of documented incidents which unambiguously violated our congregation’s code of conduct.
Last week, we reached a written separation agreement that was approved by Cantor Sklar and his counsel. The agreement would have generously provided for Cantor Sklar and his family. It would have enabled him to move on to the next stage of his career with his reputation intact and provided financial support for his family during a lengthy transition period.
Today Cantor Sklar revoked that agreement and chose to make public a number of hurtful and untrue accusations against Temple Israel.
We do not believe this is the appropriate forum to share the details of the numerous incidents that led to our decision, but we do want to assure you that we did everything we could to accommodate Cantor Sklar both in recent months as well as over the course of a number of years. Sadly, despite the many accommodations we provided, the situation became untenable. It was a painful but necessary decision we had to make despite the pandemic.
We wish Cantor Sklar and his family only the best. We understand this will be an emotional transition for Temple Israel, but our congregation is strong and resilient. Please feel free to reach out to us; we will support one another though this.
L’shalom — wishing you peace and comfort.