‘We will welcome him home.’ Friends search for New Jersey man who went missing in New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — It was supposed to be an overnight business trip… but more than a week later, family and friends of Michael Gelfand are searching New Orleans to try to find him.

The 33-year-old texted his wife on January 6th that he’d be flying home that evening to Jackson, New Jersey. But he never made it home.

On January 11th, the search began. Nearly three dozen friends of the family arrived in New Orleans to look for Michael.

First, they filled out a missing person report with the NOPD, then they set up a “command post” in a conference room at the Marriott Hotel on Canal Street.

The group’s spokesman, Nathan Ginsbury, says the search team has mapped out possible sightings of Gelfand, starting from the Magnolia Hotel at 525 Gravier Street where Gelfand checked out on January 6.

From there, the search has broadened. From the Highway 90 overpass to the west, and from Elysian Fields to the east. The team is searching for Gelfand in a grid pattern in cars, on bicycles, and on foot.

They’re also asking for surveillance video from places where people think they’ve spotted Gelfand, and from businesses where Gelfand’s credit card has been used in the last few days. Those businesses include drugstores, grocery stores, and bars, leading to the question of whether or not Gelfand is truly “missing.”

Ginsbury and the other searchers insist that Gelfand would want to be home with his wife and children, and with other members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

“As a nation, Orthodox Jews believe we are all one,” says Ginsbury. “[Michael] may, right now, have a struggle that he doesn’t understand (and) that we don’t understand. But he wants to be part of that community still.”

The search team is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads them to Gelfand’s location, and tips can be left at the social media hashtag #BringMichaelHome, or can be called in to the NOPD 8th District at (504) 658-6080.

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