NEW ORLEANS, LA (PIX11) — Several dozen relatives and friends from the Orthodox Jewish community of Lakewood, New Jersey flew to New Orleans this past week to search for missing dad Michael Gelfand, who last communicated with his wife Jan. 6.
The father of four, who’s 33, had told his wife and children he was flying to NOLA Jan. 5 for a one-night business trip.
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The New Orleans Police Department posted a flyer on its Facebook page that Gelfand “was scheduled to return to his home in New Jersey on January 6, 2022. His family has not heard from him since January 6th.”
There’s at least one report out of New Orleans that Gelfand was possibly spotted over the last week enjoying shopping trips and hanging out in bars.
But that didn’t deter a large group from Lakewood, who flew to Louisiana and set up a search command center in a conference room at the Marriott hotel on Canal Street, according to PIX11 News’ New Orleans affiliate, WGNO.
The spokesman for the search party, Nathan Ginsbury, told WGNO “Michael wants to be found. Michael needs to be found.”
“He may right now have a struggle that we don’t understand, that he may not understand,” Ginsbury continued, “but he wants to be a part of that community still.”
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Lakewood, New Jersey is a tight-knit enclave where many members of the Orthodox Jewish community live. More than half of Lakewood Township’s population of 135,000 are Orthodox Jews. Many Lakewood residents have strong ties to New York City and Long Beach, Long Island.
Gelfand is described as six feet two inches tall, weighing 200 pounds. Gelfand was last seen wearing blue jeans and white sneakers with a black hoodie, possibly carrying a backpack.
When his wife last heard from him, Gelfand had texted Jan. 6 that he was getting a flight home that night.