Rabbi Arthur Schneier (right) with Leon
and Elsie Levy

Happy Birthday,
Rabbi Arthur Schneier


ENJAMIN NETANYAHU was a surprise guest at the 110th anniversary dinner of Park East Synagogue and70th birthday of its esteemed rabbi, Arthur Schneier. Bibi said that when he was Israel’s UN ambassador, one responsibility was to spend a lot of time in the synagogue. “I chose my synagogue very carefully. I logged a lot of time at Park East.”

Israel Bonds president Gideon Patt
and wife Anne

Bibi recalled another Park East Synagogue dinner in the early ‘80s when a member of the administration in Washington spoke. The non-Jewish gentleman, reading from prepared notes, concluded, “Arthur, yasher coach!”

The worthy gentleman must have thought the congregation looked like a baseball franchise.

The recent dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria was an appropriate occasion to mark the beloved rabbi’s 70th birthday. The tributes came from several high-ranking dignitaries, including the Most Rev. Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Newark.

 “To be blessed,” the archbishop said, “you should count among your friends a brilliant, lawyer, a skilled physician and a good priest. Every congregation deserves the rabbi it gets. You must be a wonderful congregation.”

Revlon Group president Bruce Slovin
and Holocaust author Fanya Heller

Marc Feuerstein, who just finished a film with Mel Gibson titled, What Women Want, said he got his start in an amateur talent contest at Park East. He had his bar mitzvah there and remains a devoted member.

“Park East Synagogue,” he said, “has fortified our Jewish existence. It holds a lot of memories for me.”

Israel Meir Lau, Israel’s chief rabbi, praised Schneier for being among the first to fight for the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate.

“For Rabbi Schneier,” Lau said, “’Let my people go’ was not just a slogan but became a reality.”

Bishop Dimitrios, director of
Ecumenical Affairs of the Greek
orthodox Achdiocese of America,
with Rabbi Arthur Schneier

Schneier took his activism worldwide when he founded the Appeal of Conscience, an ecumenical organization that seeks to preserve religious freedom on a global scale.

Schneier’s son, Rabbi Marc Schneier of the Hampton Synagogue, remembered fondly the daily walks he used to take with his father in Central Park. His father, a Holocaust survivor from Vienna, would often stop to watch the kids play baseball.

“Hitler took away from my father a normal childhood,” Marc said. “He knows nothing about sports.”

One day Hank Greenberg came to Park East and brought along Sid Luckman, the greatest Jewish quarterback ever to play the game.

Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, chief rabbi of Israel,
with Rabbi Arthur Schneier and wife Elisabeth

Rabbi Arthur Schneier and former Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
with Rep. Benjamin Gilman (center)

The elder Schneier announced proudly, “This Shabbat we’re honored to have with us Sid Luckman, one of the greatest quarterbacks in baseball.”

“Actually,” Schneier said, “I played soccer in Vienna until they put up signs ‘Juden verboten.’

“Both my grandfathers were consumed by the furnaces of the Shoah. Hashem tried me, tested me. I came through the furnace and I never lost faith.”

As a token of gratitude, synagogue president Michael Scharf presented Schneier with his own personal Torah.

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