Rabbi Marc Schneier is the founder and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, an organization that works internationally to promote understanding and cooperation between Jews and other ethnic communities. He recently published with Imam Shamsi Ali “Sons of Abraham: A Candid Conversation about the Issues That Divide and Unite Jews and Muslims” (Beacon Press), featuring a foreword by President Bill Clinton. The book, written in alternating chapters, grows out of an unusual friendship: Rabbi Schneier, the 18th in a rabbinic line and founding rabbi of the Hampton Synagogue on Long Island, and the imam, the son of an Indonesian farmer who studied in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and now leads the Jamaica Muslim Center, both embrace pluralism, promote compassion and denounce all forms of hateful behavior.
At a time when some congregations schedule the Selichot service that ushers in the High Holy Days for just after the end of Shabbat or join with a neighboring congregation to increase attendance, The Hampton Synagogue on Long Island’s east end is attracting worshippers from as far away as Flatbush.
Maybe Lucette Lagnado’s piece in The Wall Street Journal (Feb. 8) on how some high-profile Orthodox synagogues are drawing large crowds to their Shabbat morning services with expensive booze and elaborate catering at kiddush will prove embarrassing enough to tamp down this trend. But I don’t think so.
Ed Koch, New York’s most colorful mayor (1978-89), was always a step ahead of his admirers. When Koch was recovering from a stroke in 1987, Rabbi Arthur Schneier of Park East Synagogue came to see how he’s doin’.
“Say this Hebrew prayer after me,” the rabbi said.
Later came John Cardinal O’Connor. “Ed, if you like, I will pray for you in Hebrew.”
“Reverend,” Koch said, “I took care of the Hebrew. Can you say something in Latin?”
High-style rabbi declines RCA offer to resign; says bipolar condition to blame for unusual behavior.
Editor And Publisher
The Rabbinical Council of America, the largest organization of Orthodox rabbis, is likely to initiate an inquiry into alleged moral improprieties of its member, Rabbi Marc Schneier, the high-profile spiritual leader of The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton, L.I., and New York Synagogue in Midtown, whose success in drawing wealthy and loyal supporters and congregants is matched by his widely reported history of personal romances.