November 19, 1966
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Shmuel "Shmuley" Boteach (Hebrew: שמואל (שמולי) בוטח, / / SHMOO-lee boh-TAY-ək; born November 19, 1966) is an American Orthodox rabbi, author, TV host and public speaker. Boteach is the author of Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy, published in 1999, and Kosher Jesus, published in 2012. His outspokenness has earned him praise and criticism; Newsweek magazine named him one of the 50 most influential rabbis in the United States three years in a row, including sixth in 2010.
Shmuel "Shmuley" Boteach was sent as a Chabad-Lubavitch shaliach (emissary) to Oxford, England, where he founded the L'Chaim Society. A dispute erupted when Boteach was asked to remove some non-Jewish students from the society, but refused. In 1999, the British Charity Commission for England and Wales investigated the society for possible misallocation of funds. Following the investigation, The Guardian reported, a spokesman for the London Chief Rabbi said Boteach "did not possess the appropriate United Synagogue rabbinical 'practice certificate'" for presiding over services in Orthodox Ashkenazic synagogues in Britain. Later that year Boteach won the "Preacher of the Year" Award from The Times.
In 2006 Boteach hosted the television series Shalom in the Home. The series, which ran for two seasons on the TLC network, was a reality show in which Boteach counselled families and gave advice about relationships. Boteach also hosted a weekly radio show on WABC called The Shmuley Show, and has made numerous guest appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other television programs. He writes two syndicated columns, and is a frequent op-ed contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Jerusalem Post and other newspapers. He speaks extensively in the United States, Israel, and other countries.
In the 1990s, Boteach became a friend and unofficial spiritual advisor to Michael Jackson. Some Jewish commentators were critical. "Consorting with Michael Jackson might get Shmuley's name in the papers, but it's doubtful it will really encourage Jews to go to synagogue on Friday night", wrote Benjamin Soskis in Slate. Boteach was a vocal supporter of Jackson and "dismissive of suggestions that Jackson's relationships with children have been anything other than wholesome. Why would anyone believe those charges? They said anyone who spends that amount of time with kids has to be sick. Well, that's not an indictment of Michael Jackson, that's an indictment of our society!" He further stated: "I was friendly with Michael for a year before anyone knew about it. I did my own investigation. He never had sex with the child he made the settlement with, and there are no others."
In 2001 Boteach was involved in "Heal the Kids" or "Time for Kids", a charity founded by Jackson to encourage parents to spend more time with their children. Jackson and Boteach had a falling-out in 2002.
Following Michael Jackson's death, Boteach published The Michael Jackson Tapes, a series of taped conversations he had with Jackson. Boteach said it was Jackson's wish that the conversations be published: "This book is being published because it was Michael Jackson's desperate wish that it be so," he wrote in the prologue to the book.
Views and opinions
Boteach has espoused a somewhat accepting view of homosexuality: "Homosexuality is akin to the prohibition against lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating bread during Passover; there is nothing immoral about it, but it violates the divine will.... I am in favor of gay civil unions rather than marriage," he wrote in an op-ed column in the Wall Street Journal His books often discuss sex and sexual practices, to the chagrin of more conservative elements in the Orthodox community. According to an article in Slate, the way he described intercourse in his book Kosher Sex was one of the reasons he was forced to leave his north London synagogue.
Boteach has opened a dialogue with Christians, and specifically with Messianic Jews, who are considered by many orthodox Jews as apostates. In 2008 he debated with Michael Brown, a leader of the Messianic Jews, on whether belief in Jesus is compatible with Judaism, and in his book Kosher Jesus he depicts Jesus as "a Jewish patriot murdered by Rome for his struggle on behalf of his people...". His openness and attempts at dialogue have ired many in the ultra-orthodox establishment. Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, a leading British rabbi and a personal rival of Boteach's, called Boteach's attempts to reach out to Messianic Jews "self-delusional", and Rabbi Immanuel Schochet of Toronto, Ytzchak Schochet's father, banned the book to orthodox readers. "It is forbidden for anyone to buy or read this book," he was quoted as saying in an interview.
Boteach is known for his flamboyance and self-promotion. In a comment he later described as only having been sarcastic, he was reported as saying "God gave 10 commandments at Sinai, and the 11th commandment, which they expunged but which has come down orally, is 'Thou shalt do anything for publicity and recognition.'"
Boteach is strongly supportive of Israel, and critical of American policy towards the country. Boteach has argued that the Obama administration is "bullying" Israel, arguing that U.S. Middle Eastern policy is "scandalous" and "disgusting". He is also supportive of Israeli settlements, including the Hebron settlement, the residents of which he characterizes as marked by a particular "warmth, friendliness and hospitality" and views as being "liberated from hatred".
2012 Congressional run
Boteach ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2012 elections, with a campaign focused on traditional values rather than social issues. He supports gay marriage and recommended making family counseling tax deductible. He received the endorsement of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in April. Boteach won the Republican primary for New Jersey's 9th congressional district seat on June 5, and lost to 8th District Representative Bill Pascrell (whose old district was redistricted) in the November election.
- Kosher Sex, 2010
- The God Debates, Part I: A Spirited Discussion (DVD; debate with Christopher Hitchens; Host: Mark Derry; Commentary: Miles Redfield), 2010
- The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Suffering and Tragedy (2013)
- The Modern Guide to Judaism (2012)
- Kosher Jesus (2012)
- 10 Conversations You Need to Have with Yourself: A Powerful Plan for Spiritual Growth and Self-Improvement (2011)
- The Blessings of Enough: Rejecting Material Greed, Embracing Spiritual Hunger (2010)
- The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation (2009)
- The Broken American Male: And How to Fix Him (2008)
- The Kosher Sutra (2009)
- Parenting with Fire: Lighting up the Family With Passion and Inspiration (2006)
- 10 Conversations You Need to Have With Your Children (2006)
- Hating Women: America's Hostile Campaign Against the Fairer Sex (2005)
- Face Your Fear: Living with Courage in an Age of Caution (2004)
- The Private Adam: Becoming a Hero in a Selfish Age (2003)
- Judaism For Everyone: Renewing Your Life Through the Vibrant Lessons of the Jewish Faith (2002)
- Kosher Adultery: Seduce and Sin with your Spouse (2002)
- Why Can't I Fall in Love: A 12-Step Program (2001)
- The Psychic and the Rabbi: A Remarkable Correspondence (2001)
- Confessions of a Psychic and a Rabbi (2000)
- Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments (2000)
- An Intelligent Person's Guide to Judaism (1999)
- Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy (1999)
- Moses of Oxford: A Jewish Vision of a University and Its Life, Volume One and Two (1994)
- The Wolf Shall Lie with the Lamb—The Messiah in Hasidic Thought (1993)
- Dreams (1991)
- "Religious Extremists in Israel and How the Mainstream Must Combat It".
- Boteach, Shmuley (1999). Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-49465-3.
- Lynton, Michael; Ginsberg, Gary; Sanderson, Jay (April 4, 2009). "50 Influential Rabbis". Newsweek online. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
- Lynton, Michael (June 28, 2010). "The 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America". Newsweek online. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
- "Rabbi Shmuley: America's Rabbi". Rabbi Shmuley official website. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
- Berrin, Danielle (June 15, 2010). "Shmuley Boteach's 18-Hour Day". Jewishjournal.com. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
- Honigsbaum, Mark (September 5, 1999). "Sex guru rabbi gets passed over". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- Soskis, Benjamin (March 29, 2001). "Who is Shumuley Boteach?". Slate. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
- Freeman, Hadley (March 1, 2001). "Family values". London: The Guardian. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
- Friedman, Roger (May 23, 2011). "Jacko's Rabbi Gets Meshugah on Court TV; Plus, Pearl Harbor Bombs Away". Fox News online. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
- "Jackson's foundation now virtually defunct". msnbc.msn.com. March 25, 2004. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- Bullock, Penn (February 5, 2009). "Armed Again". Broward Palm Beach NewTimes. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- "Report: Shmuley Boteach, Uri Geller on Michael Jackson's 'Enemy List'". forward.com. Haaretz service. September 18, 2009. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- Boteach, Shmuley (2009). The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation. New York: Vanguard Press. ISBN 1-59315-602-2.
- Boteach, Shmuley (October 15, 2010). "My Jewish Perspective on Homosexuality". The Wall Street Journal online. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
- Round, Simon (May 22, 2008). "How Michael Jackson's rabbi moved on to Oprah". The Jewish Chronicle Online. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
- Shmuley Boteach, Kosher Jesus (Gefen Publishing House, 2012, ISBN 9652295787).
- Schochet and Boteach were rival candidates for the Chief Rabbinate of Britain. Simon Rocker, "Seconds out: rabbis scrap over Jesus Christ", TheJC.com, January 26, 2012.
- "Rabbi 'boosts Christian missionaries'". The Jewish Chronicle Online. April 4, 2008. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
- Boswell, Randy (January 31, 2013). "Rabbis face off over book about ‘Kosher Jesus’". National Post.
- Rampton, James (April 26, 1996). "Guardian of the 11th commandment". London: independent.co.uk. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- "Obama's Bullying of Israel". The Huffington Post. March 18, 2010.
- Boteach, Shmuley (September 29, 2010). "A Spiritual Night in Hebron". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
- Hunter, Walker (April 11, 2012). "Run, Rabbi, Run! Shmuley Boteach Goes From Neverland to Capitol Hill". observer.com. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- Yarrow, Allison (April 12, 2012). "America's Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Scores Eric Cantor's Endorsement". thedailybeast.com. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- Young, Elise (June 6, 2012). "Pascrell Wins U.S. House Primary, Faces Boteach in N.J. - Businessweek". businessweek.com. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- Dickter, Adam (November 6, 2012). "Pascrell Defeats Shmuley Boteach In Northern NJ Race". The Jewish Week. Gary Rosenblatt. Retrieved November 7, 2012.