The Rabbi That Roared

What do you get the man who has everything for his 50th birthday?

A 400-pound endangered Asian lion, of course.

At least that’s what Rabbi Marc Schneier, the founding rabbi of two New York-area synagogues, got from his wife, Tobi Rubinstein-Schneier. The Schneiers were the guests of honor at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo on January 27, when the zoo’s resident male lion was renamed “Rabbi Marc” — in exchange for a monetary donation that will help cover the lion’s care.

Schneier, however, has no plans of bringing his namesake to either of his two homes, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Westhampton Beach, N.Y. Rabbi Marc will remain alongside three lionesses in his current habitat, where the zoo staff anticipates he will sire cubs. Rubinstein-Schneier, who wore a leopard-print Michael Kors dress to the naming ceremony, said she hopes that the birth of Rabbi Marc’s cubs will correspond with her stepson’s bar mitzvah and her daughter’s Sweet 16 so that more members of the animal kingdom can be named in the family’s honor.

The founder and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Schneier was in Israel in January for the plenary assembly of the World Jewish Congress.

During the birthday celebration, Rabbi Marc came into view “with a big roar, which is appropriate, because my husband is a force to be reckoned with — in a good way,” Rubinstein-Schneier said.

Also at the festivities was WJC President Ronald Lauder, who, Schneier said, became enamored with the zoo’s cheetah population. “Ronald wanted to know if a cheetah could be named after him,” Schneier said.

At press time, Lauder had not returned a call seeking comment.

Written by

Gabrielle Birkner

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

The Rabbi That Roared

Thank you!

This article has been sent!