Marc Schneier

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Rabbi Marc Schneier
Marc Schneier.JPG
Rabbi Marc Schneier
Born Marc Schneier
(1959-01-26) January 26, 1959 (age 56)
Residence East Hampton, NY; Manhattan, NY; Palm Springs, FL
Nationality American
Occupation Rabbi
Employer Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
Known for The Hampton Synagogue
Website Official website

Marc Schneier (born January 26, 1959) is an American rabbi, and founder and president of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding,[1] and the founding rabbi of The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, New York and the New York Synagogue in Manhattan.


A graduate of Yeshiva University, Schneier was rated number 37 of the top 50 most influential American rabbis by Newsweek magazine in 2007, and one of the 50 most prominent Jews in the United States by Forward. An advocate of tolerance and understanding between different ethnicities, he has been honored by the United States Congress as well as the State of Israel, and is the recipient of the Kelly Miller Smith Ecumenical Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Martin Luther King, Jr. "Measure of a Man" award from the NAACP, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Civil Rights Leadership Award in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., the New York State Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal, and the American Civil Rights Education Services Civil Rights Award.

First Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish leaders in Brussels, December 2010 - left to right: Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric - European Council President Herman Van Rompuy - Rabbi Marc Schneier - Imam Dr. Abdujalil Sajid

Public Life[edit]

Sheikh Omar Abu-Namous, Rabbi Marc Schneier, and Imam Samer Alraey opening the U.S. national gathering of imams and rabbis on November 7, 2007, sponsored by Schneier's Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and the Islamic Cultural Center of New York in New York City

Schneier is a former vice-president of the World Jewish Congress[2] and past president of the North American Board of Rabbis and the New York Board of Rabbis, as well as serving on the boards and executive committees of numerous organizations. He is the son of Rabbi Arthur Schneier, founder of the NGO, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

Interfaith dialogue[edit]

Schneier has written and spoken extensively on Interfaith relations, and is a frequent guest on television and radio talk shows. He is the author of the book, Shared Dreams, an account of the relationship between the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Jewish community during the civil rights era, published in January, 2000; the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which he founded with Joseph Papp and is chaired by Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, produced a student guide based on the book which was distributed to thousands of Jewish and black students in hundreds of high schools and colleges in the United States. His latest book, co-authored with Imam Shamsi Ali, Sons of Abraham: A Candid Conversation about the Issues That Divide and Unite Jews and Muslims, was published by Beacon Press/Random House in September 2013.[3]

Rabbi Schneier created and spearheaded the annual Weekend of Twinning’s of Mosques and Synagogues across the globe (2008,2009,2010, 2011, 2012, 2013); 1st meeting of the Coordinating Committee of European Muslim and Jewish Leaders in Paris (2011); 1st Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish Leaders in Brussels (2010); 2nd, Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish leaders in Paris, Mission of 28 European Imams and Rabbis to the United States (2009); Mission of European Muslim and Jewish leaders to Washington D.C. (2009) Mission of Latin American Muslim and Jewish leaders to Washington D.C (2012) and the Mission of Muslim and Jewish leaders from the Southern Hemisphere (2013) and the first Summit of Rabbis and Imams in New York (2007). He was appointed to the Steering Committee of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s World Conference on Dialogue, convened by King Abdullah in Madrid (2008) and in Vienna (2009,2010,2012). Rabbi Schneier has also been appointed to the Executive Steering Committee of the Multi-Religious Campaign Against Anti-Muslim Bigotry in the United States (2010). In 2010, Rabbi Schneier served as the keynote speaker at the Doha Conference for Interfaith Dialogue in Doha, Qatar. In 2011, he was the first rabbi to be received in Bahrain, by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.[4]

Personal Life[edit]

Rabbi Schneier has been married five times.[5] For his 50th birthday, his fourth wife, Rabbi Tobi Rubinstein-Schneier, arranged for a 400 lb. endangered Asian lion to be donated in his honor at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.[6] The lion was renamed "Rabbi Marc".

In June 2010, he announced to his congregation that he has been suffering from bi-polar disorder and would seek a divorce from his fourth wife.[7] Ken Sunshine, a spokesman for Schneier, confirmed that the rabbi had been dealing with "a very serious illness," while reaffirming his status as a "renowned worldwide leader, and a pioneer in Muslim-Jewish relations."[7]

Schneier married Gitty Leiner, a speech pathologist at an unannounced wedding on October 6, 2013.[5] The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) decided in 2010 to investigate Rabbi Schneier for breaching a code of ethics, and behavior that is unfitting for a rabbi.[8] Schneier has been accused of carrying on an extramarital relationship with a then-congregant, Leiner, whom he later married.[9][10] The RCA chose to suspend the investigation in 2013 because Schneier was legally barred from testifying by a judicial gag order put in place during the bitter divorce negotiations between him and his fourth wife.[5] The RCA executive committee reviewed the facts and voted to expel Schneier, the RCA indicated in June 2015.[11] Schneier said that he had not been informed of his expulsion, and that the RCA reneged on an arrangement he had reached with its three-person internal ethics committee (Va’ad Hakavod) in its decision to expel him.[12][13] But Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, chairman of the ethics committee that met with Schneier, said that the ethics committee’s endorsement in October 2014 of Schneier’s continued RCA membership given his medical explanations for his behavior were merely a recommendation to the RCA’s 47-member executive committee, and that the executive committee had final say.[14] His synagogue's board president Morris Tuchman said that nothing would change despite the RCA’s official statement, noting: "We are very proud of Rabbi Schneier’s achievements and are considering no action as a result of this RCA debacle."[15]


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