April 24, 2016

Long Island, NY Rabbi, Married Five Times, Is Celebrated by Some

Toby Gotesman Schneier, one of the rabbi's extra curricular lovers

[From article]
The Hamptons’ “rabbi to the stars,” Marc Schneier, really loves thy neighbor — a little too much.
Schneier, 57, has been married — and divorced — five times. Now he’s flitting about the Jewish social circuit with Simi Teitelbaum, a 30-something blond Israeli party girl and former flight attendant who led to the demise of his fifth marriage. His congregation, which had shrugged off his indiscretions for years, has had enough.
[. . .]
“He is not fit to be the rabbi of our congregation,” Lloyd Landow, 76, a Long Island architect and longtime synagogue member who led the crusade, wrote in an e-mail to more than 100 synagogue members.
[. . .]
Schneier, the 18th generation of an esteemed rabbinic dynasty, [. . .] founded the tony synagogue in 1990 and was the recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. “Measure of a Man” award from the NAACP in the ’90s. “I will continue to be a part of our community, as you all have a very special place in my heart.”
[. . .]
In January 1981, while a 21-year-old rabbinic student at Yeshiva University, he married Brooklyn native and Barnard College student Elissa Shay, then just 20. The chief rabbis of Israel and Romania officiated, but the marriage lasted less than a year
[. . .]
Schneier explained away his unholy extramarital hookups by saying he was mentally ill and seeking treatment.
[. . .]
“People at shul accepted his adulterous affairs and outrageous behavior,” says the friend who wants to distance himself from Schneier. “It’s like, ‘Marc cheated on his wife again, what’s new?’ It became a running joke: the annual Marc Schneier wedding.”
Conveniently, Schneier had appointed his own board of mostly men who were apparently willing to look the other way — and to compensate him well. (In most synagogues, the congregation — not the rabbi — chooses the board.)
[. . .]
ex-wife Gotesman tells The Post. “When I left him, he was making $800,000.” She says that included a $500,000 salary, plus hundreds of thousands in additional compensation, including mortgage payments on his 5,000-square-foot Westhampton Beach home, said to be valued around $3 million.
Morality — or lack thereof — wasn’t a big concern for many synagogue-goers.
“The congregation was out to party. They come for the 3 F’s — fun, food, and f - - king,” says Esther Muller, a Columbus Circle resident who works in real estate and has known Schneier for decades.
[. . .]
“He’s not a George Clooney — I don’t know what they see in him,” says an Upper West Side friend of Leiner’s who asked to remain anonymous. She sympathizes with her friend, now a single mom to an almost-2-year-old girl, but concedes: “She’s not innocent. None of them are innocent.”
Schneier’s divorcing a wife with a young child seemed to be the final straw.
[. . .]
“It’s an abuse of power,” says Sara Shulevitz, a 30-something criminal-defense attorney who splits her time between Miami and New York and has been to services led by Schneier. “A lot of women admire and look up to rabbis, especially in [Orthodox Judaism], because there are no female rabbis. It’s horrible for a rabbi to abuse that trust, [but] a lot of people look the other way because he’s a powerful man.”
[. . .]

The Hampton Synagogue where Marc Schneier’ has served as the head rabbi.

“Look, he obviously has a weakness; his attention span for a mate is different from others’,” says Jeff Wiesenfeld, 58, who works in private-wealth management and has known the rabbi for 35 years. “But in terms of what he’s done [for the shul], he’s a phenomenon.”
“He’s the greatest — he built this from nothing,” says Graulich, the acolyte from New Rochelle, who praises the rabbi’s successful turnaround of the Jewish-averse Hamptons back in 1990, when there was scarcely any Semitic life there, let alone a haute spot for the monied class to mingle. “They wouldn’t allow Jews to join the country clubs.”
He happily drives the two hours each way every Saturday to hear his unimpeachable leader, who can do no wrong.
“He’s married, he’s divorced — big deal . . . King Solomon had 20 wives. Five is nothing,” says Graulich.
Plus, he says: “I like controversy. I don’t like a boring shul. I want Peyton Place as a shul; if I wanted a boring shul, I’d go to Westchester.”

Rabbi with 5 ex-wives, and a new fling, finally gets Hamptons boot
By Doree Lewak
New York Post
April 24, 2016 | 5:49am

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