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Rabbi Charlie  Cytron-Walker

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker

Rabbi & Survivor of Synagogue Hostage Crisis


Charlie Cytron-Walker became the new rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on July 1, 2022. He is a nationally recognized leader on combatting antisemitism and building strong interreligious relationships. Read More >

Rabbi Charlie arrives at Temple Emanuel with a history of working to bring a sense of spirituality, compassion, and learning into the lives of the community. He loves finding a connection with people of every age and strives to welcome all who enter the congregation, from interfaith families to LGBT individuals and families to those seeking to find a spiritual home in Judaism, along with all others.

He previously served at Congregation Beth Israel (CBI) in Colleyville, Texas. He came to CBI in 2006 and was the congregation’s first full-time rabbi.

On January 15, 2022, Rabbi Charlie and three CBI congregants were held hostage by a gunman in the CBI sanctuary. After an 11-hour standoff, all the hostages were able to escape when Rabbi Charlie threw a chair at the gunman, distracting him long enough for everyone to get out of the building. Since then, he has spoken out on the importance of security training for religious communities, and especially small congregations, as well as the need to build stronger bridges between faith communities, especially on a local level. He has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees, has been published in news sources including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and has been interviewed and/or profiled for outlets from CNN to CBS. IN 2022, President and Dr. Biden honored him by asking him to light the White House menorah at the First Family’s Hanukkah Reception.

Cytron-Walker has developed positive relationships with local school districts and has helped organized interfaith gatherings including numerous vigils, walks, and relationship building events. He is a past President of the Southwest Association of Reform Rabbis and serves on the steering committee of Peace Together. In 2022, he was honored as a Hero Against Hate by the Texoma Anti-Defamation League.

Rabbi Charlie is originally from Lansing, Michigan and he graduated from the University of Michigan in 1998. After graduating, Rabbi Charlie worked at Focus: HOPE, a civil and human rights organization in Detroit, Michigan, and then became the Assistant Director of the Amherst (MA) Survival Center, which housed a food pantry, free store, and soup kitchen.

Rabbi Charlie attended Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion at its Jerusalem and Cincinnati campuses, receiving his rabbinical ordination in 2006 and a M.A. in Hebrew Letters in 2005. His rabbinical thesis was titled, “Jewish Service-Learning: Integrating Talmud Torah and Ma’asim Tovim.” As a student, he served congregations in Ishpeming, MI, Fort Walton Beach, FL, and Cincinnati, OH. During his time at HUC-JIR, he received multiple awards for his service to the community, along with an award for leadership from QESHET: A Network of LGBT Reform Rabbis.

Rabbi Charlie remains completely in love with Adena Cytron-Walker and simply adores his two daughters. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker recounts moment he escaped from synagogue gunman

President Biden and The First Lady Host a Hanukkah Holiday Reception

Speech Topics

Survivor of Synagogue Hostage Crisis