A prominent rabbi has been forced to step down from his esteemed position at Chicago Sinai after hitting a $10,000 jackpot while playing the slots at an Indiana casino.
Rabbi Michael Sternfield, 67, had been battling a gambling addiction ever since picking up a gambling habit while working in South Africa. Once back in the US, he then self-excluded himself from the very same casino he ended up winning the royal flush bonus at several years later in July 2011
However, before long the casino staffs’ congratulations soon stopped after it was discovered Rabbi Sternfield was not only persona non grata at the casino, but had also used a fake ID to enter the premises. He has since been charged with trespassing and identity deception.
In spite of the incident, Sternfield was still apparently able to keep his secret hidden from his congregation until someone spotted his photo on justmugshots.com. Following the revelation, spiritual leaders of Chicago’s Sinai congregation subsequently insisted that he resign.
Talking about his addiction, Rabbi Michael Sternfield, explained: “If I’ve learned anything from these years of struggling, I’ve learned how terribly painful addictions of all kinds are and how incredibly difficult many are to get rid of. This is a chapter of my life that I regret so very deeply and which is painful for those close to me.”
Rabbi Michael Sternfield had led Chicago Sinai Congregation since 1995, where he helped carry out interfaith work and increase the congregation of the Reform Jewish synagogue from 200 to 900 members.
“I want to be someone who knocks down barriers. It doesn’t make me any less loyal to my Jewish faith or less positive about my Jewish identity,” explained Sternfield in an earlier interview.