Temple Beth El Israel in Port St. Lucie files for bankruptcy and loses rabbi

Rabbi left when leaders wanted to cut pay in half

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - A Port St. Lucie temple has been forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and its rabbi of 11 years has ended his career after leaders wanted to cut his pay in half.

Rabbi Arthur Rutberg led his last services at Temple Beth El Israel on August 5 and 6.

"I'm very sad and disappointed," explains Rutberg.

He says his new contract would have only paid him about $30,000.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. No jobs out there," he said.

After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the temple's President Samuel Levy said he was forced to make some tough decisions in the name of the budget.

"We just had to restructure and we could not pay that big a salary," says Levy.

Levy says things are really financially tough right now and membership is down while expenses are still the same.

"I had many sleepless nights over this," Levy said.

Rutberg said he wants the community to know filing for bankruptcy was a difficult decision.

For the time being, members of the congregation will lead services every Friday and Saturday until a new part-time rabbi is hired.

Levy wants to stress this is all just financial restructuring and there are no plans to close the temple.

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