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It’s Back to Shul For Gelfand

Hamptons rabbi’s new gig.


On June 30, Rabbi David Gelfand will be cast out of his beachy billionaire’s paradise at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. The center’s board had refused to extend his contract, citing allegations of plagiarizing sermons and financial discrepancies that pit boldfacers against boldfacers in the congregation (which includes Steven Spielberg, Mortimer Zuckerman, and Sheldon Solow). But the charismatic Gelfand wasn’t left wandering the wilderness: He takes over Temple Israel, a reform synagogue on East 75th Street, on July 1. “We were all very aware of the falling-out, and we had talked to lots of people from both sides,” says Israel board president Beth Lee. “We felt very comfortable that what happened out there was unique to that environment.” The temple has been losing members and doesn’t have the cachet of, say, a Temple Emanu-El. “We want to have a presence in the Jewish community,” says Lee. “Temple Israel has been much more low-key in recent years.” Anti-Gelfandite Barnet Liberman, chair of the Hamptons personnel committee, says, “We wish them nothing but the best.” Meanwhile, “I am relying on the movie rights from this to support my children.”

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