Shmuley Boteach

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Shmuley Boteach
שמואל בוטח
Shmuel Boteach
Boteach in 2010
Shmuel Boteach

(1966-11-19) November 19, 1966 (age 53)
OccupationRabbi, author
Years active1988–present
Political partyRepublican[1]

Shmuel "Shmuley" Boteach (שמואל (שמולי) בוטח, /ˈʃmli bˈt.ək/ SHMOO-lee boh-TAY-ək; born November 19, 1966) is an American Orthodox Jewish rabbi, author, TV host and public speaker. Boteach is the author of 30 books,[3] including Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy (1999),[4] and Kosher Jesus (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.[5][6] He resides in Englewood, New Jersey.[7]

Early life[edit]

Boteach attended and graduated from Hebrew Academy.[8]

Rabbinic career[edit]

In 1988, Boteach was sent at age 22 by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson[9] as a Chabad-Lubavitch shaliach (emissary) to Oxford, England, where he served as rabbi to Oxford's students for 11 years and during that time founded the L'Chaim Society.[10] Under Boteach's leadership the Oxford L'Chaim Society grew to be the second-largest student organization in Oxford's history, with a membership that included over 5,000 non-Jews.[11] A dispute erupted when Boteach was asked to remove some non-Jewish students from the society, including future senator Cory Booker, but refused.[12] Later that year Boteach won the "Preacher of the Year" Award from the London Times.[9]

In 2008, Boteach was named ninth on Newsweek's list of the "Top 50 Rabbis in America", and in 2009 he was named seventh.[5] In 2010, Boteach was listed on the Newsweek list at number six.[6]

Boteach has faced widespread criticism from fellow rabbis during his career, especially following the release of his book Kosher Jesus. It was denounced as "heresy" by some rabbis. Jacob Immanuel Schochet, a Canadian rabbi, stated that the book "poses a tremendous threat to the Jewish community."[13] In 1999, then Chief Rabbi of United Hebrew Congregations, Jonathan Sacks, banned Boteach from speaking at the New West End Synagogue in Bayswater, London.[14]

Media career[edit]

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 counseled families and gave advice about relationships. In 2007, he was honored by the National Fatherhood Initiative with their most prestigious award for his efforts on Shalom in the Home and promoting the importance of a caring father in the contemporary family.[15][16] He writes two syndicated columns,[10] 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.

Boteach hosted a weekly radio show on WABC called The Shmuley Show.[17] He has made numerous guest appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other television programs, including The Dr. Phil Show[18] (as a relationship and marriage expert),[19] The Dr. Oz Show, and others.[20] Boteach hosted his own show on the Oprah XM Satellite Radio Network and his writings[21] and quotes[22] are published on the website.[23]

In 2014, Boteach was a featured cast member in an episode for the Sundance Channel's Dream School series.[24]

He is founder of This World: The Values Network, an international organization dedicated to advancing universal Jewish values in the media and culture, and to affirming the Jewish people as a "light unto the nations".[24][25] It has been reported by that in 2016, the network received over $1 million from Sheldon Adelson.[26]

Michael Jackson[edit]

In the 1990s, Boteach became a friend and unofficial spiritual advisor to Michael Jackson.[9] 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.[9] 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!"[27] 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."[28]

In 2001, Boteach was involved in "Heal the Kids"[29] or "Time for Kids", a charity founded by Jackson to encourage parents to spend more time with their children.[30] Jackson and Boteach had a falling-out in 2002.[31]

After Michael Jackson died, Boteach published The Michael Jackson Tapes,[32] 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.[33]

A second book was published in 2010: Honoring the Child Spirit: Inspiration and Learning from Our Children, in conversation with Michael Jackson.

Views and opinions[edit]

Boteach wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed column on homosexuality that it is "akin to the prohibition against lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating bread during Passover;" but contends that the Bible is not vague with regard to homosexuality—it stands in contravention to the divine will. He believes that the biggest threat to marriage doesn't come from gay marriage, but heterosexual divorce. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach opposes the government's involvement in recognizing marriage, but supports state-sanctioned civil unions for all.[34][35][36]

Boteach has opened a dialogue with Christians, and specifically with Messianic Jews, who are considered to be apostates by most Jews.[citation needed] In 2008, he debated Douglas Jacoby and Shabir Ally, on The True Legacy of Abraham, and the next year he debated Douglas Jacoby on "Judaism & Christianity: Which is the Religion of Peace?" In 2008, he debated with Michael Brown, a leader of the Messianic Jews, on whether belief in Jesus is compatible with Judaism,[37][38] and in his book Kosher Jesus he depicts Jesus as "a Jewish patriot murdered by Rome for his struggle on behalf of his people."[39] These positions have drawn opposition from many in the orthodox establishment, particularly from within the Chabad sect to which Boteach belongs. Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, a leading British rabbi and a rival of Boteach's,[40] called Boteach's attempts to reach out to Messianic Jews "self-delusional",[41] and Rabbi Immanuel Schochet of Toronto, Yitzchak Schochet's father, banned the book to Orthodox Jewish readers. "It is forbidden for anyone to buy or read this book," he said in an interview.[42]

Boteach is known for his flamboyance and self-promotion. In a comment he later described as only having been sarcastic,[28] 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.'"[43]

Boteach is supportive of Israel, and critical of American policy towards the country. Boteach has argued that the Obama administration "bullied" Israel, arguing that U.S. Middle Eastern policy is "scandalous" and "disgusting".[44] 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."[45]

Boteach was criticized by Jewish organizations for an ad placed in The New York Times which read "Susan Rice has a blind spot: Genocide", and that her action has "injected a degree of partisanship" that is "destructive of the fabric of the relationship" between the US and Israel. Rice had criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for agreeing to speak to Congress about Iran's nuclear program without coordinating with the Obama administration.[46] Boteach apologized quoting that the disagreement was over policy and he did not intend a personal attack.[47] Speaking to CNN, Boteach said the purpose of the ad was to bring attention to his perception that the United States government has ignored genocides in the past, and continues to do so.[48]

2012 Congressional run[edit]

Boteach ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2012 elections. He supported making family counseling tax deductible.[49] He received the endorsement of then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in April.[50] 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, by a margin of 73.6% to 25.4%.[51][52][53]

Published works[edit]


  • Kosher Sex, 2010
  • The God Debates, Part I: A Spirited Discussion (DVD; debate with Christopher Hitchens; Host: Mark Derry; Commentary: Miles Redfield), 2010


  • Lust For Love: Rekindling Intimacy and Passion in your Relationship (co-authored with Pamela Anderson) (2018)
  • The Israel Warrior: Fighting Back for the Jewish State from Campus to Street Corner (2016)
  • Kosher Lust: Love Is Not the Answer (2014)
  • 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)
  • Honoring the Child Spirit: Inspiration and Learning from Our Children, in conversation with Michael Jackson (2010)
  • Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life (2010)
  • 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)[32]
  • The Broken American Male: And How to Fix Him (2008)
  • The Kosher Sutra (2009)
  • Shalom in the Home (2007)
  • 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)
  • Confessions of a Psychic and a Rabbi, (2000; also called The Psychic and the Rabbi: A Remarkable Correspondence, 2001, with Uri Geller)
  • Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments (2000)
  • Kosher Emotions (2000)
  • An Intelligent Person's Guide to Judaism (1999)
  • Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy (1999)[4]
  • Wrestling with the Divine (1995)
  • 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)
  • Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge (1993)
  • Dreams (1991)


  1. ^
  2. ^ (This information is as of the date of the source linked in this footnote: [that is, as of the beginning of 2012]) : "Religious Extremists in Israel and How the Mainstream Must Combat It".
  3. ^ "Rabbi Shmuley - ABOUT". Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Boteach, Shmuley (1999). Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-49465-3.
  5. ^ a b Lynton, Michael; Ginsberg, Gary; Sanderson, Jay (April 4, 2009). "50 Influential Rabbis". Newsweek. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Lynton, Michael (June 28, 2010). "The 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America". Newsweek. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  7. ^ "Education". Archived from the original on 2014-05-13.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ a b c d Soskis, Benjamin (March 29, 2001). "Who is Shumuley Boteach?". Slate. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Rabbi Shmuley: America's Rabbi". Rabbi Shmuley official website. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  11. ^ Rippingale, James (December 2, 2014). "A Conversation with the 'World's Most Controversial Jew'". Vice. VICE Media LLC. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  12. ^ Berrin, Danielle (June 15, 2010). "Shmuley Boteach's 18-Hour Day". Retrieved March 21, 2011.
  13. ^ "Rabbi's 'Kosher Jesus' book is denounced as heresy". Los Angeles Times. February 5, 2012.
  14. ^ Ungar-Sargon, Batya (July 23, 2014). "Celebrity Rabbi, Heal Thyself". Tablet. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  15. ^ Goldberg, Michelle (23 March 2012). "Why Is Shmuley Boteach Running for Congress as a Republican?".
  16. ^ "Schmuley Boteach - SourceWatch".
  17. ^ "WABC Adds Rabbi Shmuley Boteach For Weekend Show".
  18. ^ "YouTube".
  19. ^ "Dr.".
  20. ^ Weigel, David (21 August 2012). "The Kosher Candidate" – via Slate.
  21. ^ "Getting Rid of Gossip".
  22. ^ "Love Quotes - Doing Something You Hate - Rabbi Shmuley Boteach".
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b "Rabbi Shmuley Boteach".
  25. ^ "About". 10 June 2014.
  26. ^ Philip Weiss, 'A foreign leader — Netanyahu — set Trump’s agenda in Middle East, Michael Wolff book says,' Mondoweiss 4 January 2018.
  27. ^ Freeman, Hadley (March 1, 2001). "Family values". The Guardian. London. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  28. ^ a b 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.
  29. ^ "Jackson's foundation now virtually defunct". March 25, 2004. Archived from the original on September 27, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  30. ^ Bullock, Penn (February 5, 2009). "Armed Again". Broward Palm Beach NewTimes. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  31. ^ "Report: Shmuley Boteach, Uri Geller on Michael Jackson's 'Enemy List'". Haaretz service. September 18, 2009. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  32. ^ a b 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.
  33. ^ Boteach, Shmuley. "Prologue". The Michael Jackson Tapes. Archived from the original on 2009-11-28. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  34. ^ Boteach, Shmuley (October 15, 2010). "My Jewish Perspective on Homosexuality". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
  35. ^ Hunter, Walker (April 11, 2012). "Run, Rabbi, Run! Shmuley Boteach Goes From Neverland to Capitol Hill". Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  36. ^ Boteach, Shmuley (July 1, 2015). "Gay Marriage and the End of Days". Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  37. ^ Round, Simon (May 22, 2008). "How Michael Jackson's rabbi moved on to Oprah". The Jewish Chronicle Online. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  38. ^ "Can Jews Believe in Jesus?".
  39. ^ Shmuley Boteach, Kosher Jesus (Gefen Publishing House, 2012, ISBN 9652295787).
  40. ^ Schochet and Boteach were rival candidates for the Chief Rabbinate of Britain. Simon Rocker, "Seconds out: rabbis scrap over Jesus Christ",, January 26, 2012.
  41. ^ "Rabbi 'boosts Christian missionaries'". The Jewish Chronicle Online. April 4, 2008. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  42. ^ Boswell, Randy (January 31, 2013). "Rabbis face off over book about 'Kosher Jesus'". National Post. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013.
  43. ^ Rampton, James (April 26, 1996). "Guardian of the 11th commandment". The Independent. London. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  44. ^ Obama's Bullying of Israel. The Huffington Post. March 18, 2010.
  45. ^ Boteach, Shmuley (September 29, 2010). "A Spiritual Night in Hebron". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  46. ^ "Jewish groups condemn Boteach 'genocide' ad on Susan Rice". Times of Israel. 1 March 2015.
  47. ^ "Rabbi apologizes for ad accusing Susan Rice of being blind to genocide". 124 News. March 6, 2015. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  48. ^ Ben-Gedalyahu, Tzvi (March 2, 2015). "Rabbi Boteach Shoots Back at Critics and Calls Susan Rice a 'Bully'". The Jewish Press. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  49. ^ Hunter, Walker (April 11, 2012). "Run, Rabbi, Run! Shmuley Boteach Goes From Neverland to Capitol Hill". Retrieved May 31, 2012.
  50. ^ Yarrow, Allison (April 12, 2012). "America's Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Scores Eric Cantor's Endorsement". Retrieved May 31, 2012.
  51. ^ Young, Elise (June 6, 2012). "Pascrell Wins U.S. House Primary, Faces Boteach in N.J. – Businessweek". Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  52. ^ Dickter, Adam (November 6, 2012). "Pascrell Defeats Shmuley Boteach In Northern NJ Race". The Jewish Week. Gary Rosenblatt. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  53. ^ 2012 House Races, Politico. Retrieved 2 March 2015.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Michael Agosta
Republican nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey's 9th District
Succeeded by
Michael Oren Epstein