Rabbi with a Cause

For Loring Frank, South Florida's freewheeling rabbi of the people, Judaism is all about inclusion

The 5:30 p.m. wedding at Celebrations, another banquet hall in Plantation, is a mixture of Jewish and Baptist, long red and blue sequined bridesmaids dresses, Kenny G music, and the smell of garlic bread wafting in from the kitchen. After the pronouncement of "husband and wife," someone yells, "Let's eat!"

Viewed while crossing the drawbridge over the Intracoastal Waterway on Southern Boulevard toward Palm Beach, Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago looms like a Castilian castle. Arriving right on time for the 7:00 p.m. formal affair, Frank changes clothes in the driver's seat of his Mercedes, from a blue Versace blazer to a white Neiman Marcus tuxedo dinner jacket. Adam Gottbetter and his bride pose for photographs on the coral-color gravel driveway in front of the villa. They met at the Caribou Club in Aspen and will honeymoon in Thailand, Singapore, and Bali.

Gottbetter was impressed with Frank the first moment he met him last month. The 29-year-old commercial real estate attorney from New York City flew down to interview Frank as a candidate to perform his wedding. They met at the Marriott in Boca Raton. "He drove up to the interview in a white Mercedes E300 and walked out carrying a Louis Vuitton bag. I said, 'That's my kind of guy. He's hip and young for his age. He's not some putz.'"

Gottbetter rented Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach for his white-tie wedding and invited 200 guests. Rather than the traditional wedding march, the band plays a funky interpretation of "Long Live the Queen" when the bride strolls down the curving outdoor stairwell, toward the pool and chuppah canopy, where her groom awaits her. Amid the Gatsbyesque setting of ice sculptures, caviar, and the famed Peter Duchin Band playing high society tunes, Frank performs the ceremony at sunset. The Jewish glass-stomp and then "Mazel tov!" ("Good luck!" in Hebrew), and the rejoicing begins. Afterward, in a cozy nook bar sporting a heroic painting of Trump titled "The Visionary," Gottbetter leans forward and expresses his appreciation for Frank. "You know, he's a little strange," he whispers. "He's out there. But in a positive way. I respect that. I like that he's a real person, not a phony."

Frank collects $500 for the service and heads home to Miami Beach. He says he's not getting rich. "Whatever," he says. "I'm not doing it for the money. If my father had not passed away I wouldn't be doing this now. And I might have been better off financially. But I love what I do. I'm happy."

He tells a joke, one of many he's delivered with a professional comedian's timing during the day: "This one," says Frank, "symbolizes totally the essence of what it's like to be Jewish. You have to have something to complain about." It goes like this: A man was stranded on an island. While he was stranded, he built two synagogues. When he was rescued years later he was asked why he built two synagogues. He replied that in one synagogue he worshiped every day. "I love that synagogue; it's my favorite synagogue." The other one? "I would never set my foot in that one."

When it comes to handling criticism from those rabbis who disapprove of him, Frank takes his mother's repeated advice: "Forget about them. Move on.

Ray Martinez's article "Rabbi with a Cause" (April 17) incorrectly described Loring Frank's astrological sign. Rabbi Frank is an Aquarius, not a Pisces. New Times regrets the error.Info:Published:

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