Rabbi Capers Funnye Jr. is spiritual leader of the 200-member Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago. A Jew By Choice, he is active not only in relations between blacks and Jews but in reaching out to black Jewish communities around the world. And as a first cousin, once removed to First Lady Michelle Obama, Rabbi Funnye (pronounced Fun-AY) had a front seat to American history unfolding.
After months of legal battles and high-stakes shul politics, the rabbi at the center of a million-dollar contract battle in East Hampton is set to take a new position as senior rabbi at an Upper East Side temple, The Jewish Week has learned.
But divisions between supporters and detractors of Rabbi David Gelfand at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons, a Reform temple, may continue for some time, as efforts continue to oust board members who refused to extend the three-year contract, which expires at the end of next month.
Freed from a lawsuit that sought to undermine their authority, trustees of The Jewish Center of the Hamptons have voted to fire their rabbi against the wishes of a large segment of the congregation. But supporters of Rabbi David Gelfand, whose contract expires in June, say they will keep up the fight.
Congregants at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons on Sunday voted nearly 2-to-1 to oust the board of trustees and retain their rabbi at a meeting that drew more than 800 people, or 78 percent of the Reform congregation's membership.
But the results may be invalidated on Tuesday after a Supreme Court judge hears arguments on whether the vote was in accordance with the temple's constitution.
After thwarting an attempt to oust them on Sunday with an 11th-hour court order, trustees at The Jewish Center of the Hamptons say they will reach a decision early next month on whether to renew their rabbi's contract, a matter that has bitterly divided the opulent Reform congregation.
"The board will make a decision in January about whether it wants to extend the rabbi's contract and submit it on Feb. 26 for a membership vote," said Laura Hoguet, the lawyer representing the trustees.
Three years ago Mordechai Tendler, a controversial Modern Orthodox rabbi, met with nine leading haredi rabbis in his community of Monsey, N.Y., who challenged him on a number of his halachic rulings and on allegations that he had acted improperly with women.Since then, Rabbi Tendler has said publicly that he was exonerated by the rabbinical panel, which he has described as a bet din, or religious court.
There are lists of the top colleges in America. There are lists of the top Jewish leaders. There are even lists of the top comic books and the worst-dressed celebrities. Now add the top 50 rabbis in America.
Newsweek Magazine published the list this week, saying the selections were “far from scientific” and “revised and rejiggered” many times by its authors: Sony Pictures CEO and Chairman Michael Lynton; Gary Ginsberg, executive vice president of News Corporation, and Jay Sanderson, CEO of the Jewish Television Network.
When, if ever, is it appropriate to criticize the politically incorrect statements of a leading rabbinic figure?
That question is being asked in Modern Orthodox circles these days after Rabbi Hershel Schachter, rosh yeshiva and rosh kollel at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, seemed to compare women to animals in expounding on a religious practice.
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.