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Shmuley Boteach promotes himself as “America’s rabbi” and “the most famous rabbi in America.” A man of many hustles, he has inserted himself as political liaison to far-right pro-Israel casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, close confidante of Senator Ted Cruz, spiritual guide to Michael Jackson, pal of Oprah Winfrey, soulmate of Eli Wiesel, buddy of Senator Cory Booker, star of his own reality TV show, and bestselling self-help author of .This month Boteach scrambled between a meeting with Donald Trump, whose candidacy for president he recently endorsed, and a ritzy gala for his own organization, thrown on the solemn Holocaust Memorial Day, at which he bestowed special honors on the former "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson and Yoko Ono, among other dignitaries.
The vehicle “America’s Rabbi” uses is a non-profit charity that purports to promote Jewish values.He declared, “it is forbidden for anyone to buy or read this book, or give its author a platform in any way shape or form to discuss this topic,” and concluded that “the book violates basic premises of original and authentic Jewish tradition, thus unavoidably must be rejected for being heretical.”Infuriated by his total castigation, Boteach fired off an op-ed accusing Rabbi Ezra Schochet of running “a Taliban madrassa.” Boteach falsely claimed he was being punished “because I dare to say that gay Jewish men should be encouraged to put on tefillin [phylacteries worn by observant Jews during prayer] and keep the Sabbath as opposed to just being ostracized as an abomination.” Rabbi Yaacov Behrman countered that his students visit men and women regardless of their sexual orientation and are allowed to lead any Jewish male in prayer, even if he is gay.Behrman concluded about Boteach’s attack on Schochet, “How does the tiny flea dare to rise up against the mighty eagle?Just as Boteach defended Cruz when he was accused of engaging in coded antisemitism for slamming “New York values,” Boteach is now defending Trump against critics who accuse him of making antisemitic comments (“You [Jews] are not going to support me because I don’t want your money”) and exhibiting fascist tendencies.By insinuating himself into the company of Trump’s family, Boteach has appointed himself Trump’s top Jewish surrogate.
At every step, they have faithfully adhered to the dictum Boteach described as his personal Eleventh Commandment: "Thou shalt do anything for publicity and recognition."Rabbi without a shul Despite tirelessly building a brand as “America’s rabbi,” Boteach has no congregation or political base of followers.