The Shir Tikvah Congregation executive board announced Sunday evening, Dec. 12, that Rabbi Michael Latz has been granted a three-month leave of absence, effective immediately.
“[Rabbi Latz] is not facing any kind of life-threatening physical condition, but … he recognizes the need for time and space to rest, as well as to do some critical, internal work and teshuvah,” the executive committee wrote. In a statement to TC Jewfolk Monday morning, the executive committee said: “This is an internal personnel matter involving no sexual impropriety. The congregation does not discuss such matters publicly.”
Latz, in a letter that went out to the congregation membership, acknowledged the burnout that the previous two years have caused led to the decision but indicated that he has a need to undergo some personal teshuvah.
“I understand that some of the underlying issues have been there longer” than the past two years, Latz wrote. “I also understand that the work I need to do goes beyond the places where I feel personally broken. They say that ‘hurt people hurt people.’ I understand that, while inadvertent, the manner in which I have been interacting with my colleagues and our extraordinary staff has sometimes hurt them.”
Latz has been the senior rabbi at the Reform synagogue in South Minneapolis since 2009 when he moved here from Seattle after serving as the founding rabbi of Kol HaNeshamah. He is also a former co-chair of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.
“The first step in the process of teshuvah is to acknowledge and apologize for the harm done. I am deeply saddened and sorry that I have been a source of hurt to people I care for and respect,” Latz wrote. “Rabbis are not infallible. Part of the work during my leave will be to understand and change the behaviors that have caused harm so they are not repeated, and to engage deeply in the teshuvah process.”