In the past few months, Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and leader of a star-studded synagogue in the Hamptons, has been busy. The foundation launched a month-long series of programs in Jewish and Muslim houses of worship, while Schneier has been jetting around the globe engaged in his particular brand of multi-faith dialogue and promoting his new book, “Sons of Abraham,” written with Imam Shamsi Ali.
The Orthodox rabbi also found time to stand under the chuppah for the fifth time.
Schneier married Gitty Leiner, a speech pathologist and his longtime girlfriend, at an unannounced wedding on October 6 at his shul, The Hampton Synagogue, in Westhampton Beach, N.Y.
The wedding may lead to the resolution of one of the more unusual situations to face an Orthodox rabbi who has a worldwide reputation.
In 2010, the Rabbinical Council of America, representing modern Orthodox rabbis, announced that it was launching an inquiry into allegations that Schneier, an RCA member, had committed adultery with Leiner, a congregant, while still married to his fourth wife, Tobi Rubinstein Schneier.
At the time, Shmuel Goldin, then the RCA’s president, told The New York Jewish Week that at issue is whether Schneier’s actions represent a chillul hashem, or desecration of God’s name, in terms of “behavior of a public or private nature unbecoming a rabbi,” which the group views as grounds for discipline. Goldin, interviewed by the Forward on November 20, reaffirmed that statement.
But the RCA chose to suspend the investigation because Schneier was legally barred from testifying by a judicial gag order put in place during the bitter divorce negotiations between him and Rubinstein Schneier. The gag order stymied the efforts of the Vaad Hakavod, an RCA committee tasked with investigating ethical breaches of RCA members. “The Vaad Hakavod had been convened — and then we ran into this roadblock,” Goldin said.
“It would not have been fair for us to hold any kind of hearing without Rabbi Schneier having an opportunity to address [us],” Goldin said. “So we were stuck.”