Boteach, Shmuley 1966- [A pseudonym] (Shmuel Boteach)
Boteach, Shmuley 1966- [A pseudonym] (Shmuel Boteach)
Name is pronounced "Boh-TAY-ach"; born November 19, 1966, in Los Angeles, CA; married; wife's name Deborah (a homemaker); children: eight. Religion: Jewish.
Office—P.O. Box 61, Englewood, NJ 07631.
Rabbi, writer, and public speaker. Host, Shalom in the Home, The Learning Channel. Founder, L'Chaim Society; Loveprophet.com (dating Web site), founder. Has appeared on television and radio shows and networks, including The View, Howard Stern, Good Morning America, Politically Incorrect, Larry King Live, Tonight Show, Oprah, MSNBC, and CNN.
London Times Preacher of the Year, runner-up, 1999, awarded, 2000; named "a cultural phenomenon" and "the most famous rabbi in America," Newsweek magazine; award from National Fatherhood Initiative, 2007, for promotion of positive fatherhood images on "Shalom in the Home"; recognized by Talkers magazine as one of the one hundred most important radio hosts in America; award for excellence in commentary, American Jewish Press Association.
The Wolf Shall Lie with the Lamb: The Messiah in Hasidic Thought, Jason Aronson (Northvale, NJ), 1993.
Wrestling with the Divine: A Jewish Response to Suffering, Jason Aronson (Northvale, NJ), 1995.
Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge: Basic Concepts of Hasidic Thought, Jason Aronson (Northvale, NJ), 1996.
Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1999.
Why Can't I Fall in Love: A Twelve-Step Program, Regan Books (New York, NY), 2001.
(With Uri Geller and Deepak Chopra) The Psychic and the Rabbi: A Remarkable Correspondence, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2001.
Kosher Adultery: Seduce and Sin with Your Spouse, Adams Media Corp. (Avon, MA), 2002.
The Private Adam: Becoming a Hero in a Selfish Age, Regan Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Judaism for Everyone: Renewing Your Life through the Vibrant Lessons of the Jewish Faith, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Face Your Fear: Living with Courage in an Age of Caution, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Hating Women: America's Hostile Campaign against the Fairer Sex, Regan Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Parenting with Fire: Lighting up the Family with Passion and Inspiration, New American Library (New York, NY), 2006.
10 Conversations You Need to Have with Your Children, Regan Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Shalom in the Home, Meredith Books (Des Moines, IA), 2007.
Also author of An Intelligent Person's Guide to Judaism and Jewish Guide to Adultery. Writings have been featured in Newsweek, Time, New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Playboy, and Cosmopolitan, as well as on the Internet and in various religious publications. Editor-in-chief, IDT Publishing.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has helped to redefine the standard image of, among other things, a rabbi. He is hip, funny, and somewhat controversial in conservative circles. His books, including Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy and Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments, are not just about dating and marriage relationships from an orthodox Jewish perspective, they are also written from the perspective of an intelligent man who knows how to explain things in a way that is both comprehensible and funny. Boteach's lively approach to making Jewish teachings accessible to just about anyone has proven extremely popular.
Boteach has spent most of his professional life in the public eye. In 1989, the Lubavitch Society, the orthodox Jewish community that trained Boteach, sent the twenty-one-year-old and his wife to Oxford University to establish a Jewish student union. There, Boteach kick-started one of the most popular organizations ever at the prestigious British university: the L'Chaim Society. "Within two years, [Boteach] made the L'Chaim Society … second in popularity among campus clubs only to the Oxford Union, the debate club. Lectures he hosted drew as many as 2,000 students," wrote Eric Konigsberg in New York. The high-profile L'Chaim Society invited such guest speakers as Boy George and Stephen Hawking to come and teach about "values-based leadership"; the club also attracted Jewish and non-Jewish students alike.
After several years and much success at Oxford, Boteach returned to the United States with his wife, Debra, and their six children. There, he opened up a new chapter of his L'Chaim Society and began his efforts to bring the large Jewish population of New York City back to their faith. His approach was new: he made things easy to understand and he did not alienate people by making them feel guilty about past transgressions. "I have seen my purpose as bringing godliness to places it has never reached, to bring values and godly teaching to the widest possible public, Jew and non-Jews included," Boteach explained to Sarah Blustain of Salon.com.
Though some conservatives have criticized Boteach, his popularity speaks for itself. He was named 2000 Rabbi of the Year by the London Times in the largest margin in the contest's history, and he published Kosher Sex and Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments to rave reviews and millions of readers. As quoted by Konigsberg, Boteach has said of his teaching, "What I'm doing, in effect, is translating [the Torah] to today's world to reach more people."
Boteach has also made a name for himself by cofounding the organization Heal the Kids with entertainer Michael Jackson. Among the members of the organization's board of advisors are Shimon Peres, Elizabeth Taylor, and Uri Geller. In an interview for BBC News online, Boteach said, "Heal the Kids is about getting parents to enjoy their children again, about putting their kids first. We're going to meet twice a year, we're going to create a community of people worldwide who read their children bedtime stories."
Despite Boteach's casual approach to the teaching of Judaism, orthodoxy remains a vital part of his life and his profession. He is known for his understanding and nonjudgmental attitude, as well as his unconventional advice. In an article for Olam.org, Boteach recalled the pain he went through after his parents divorced and the anger he felt toward his father: "The pain of it stayed with me long into my adult years and it became a defining event of my life. But in the end, I became close with my father once again. Several factors contributed to this closeness, but none was as important as this simple fact: I refused to judge him. One of the most beautiful rabbinical teachings proclaims, ‘Never judge a man until you are in his place.’"
In Judaism for Everyone: Renewing Your Life through the Vibrant Lessons of the Jewish Faith, Boteach describes his vision of Judaism in terms of its universality, rather than its historic exclusivity. "Boteach's provocative and timely message is that it is not necessary to convert in order to understand" Judaism, wrote Booklist contributor George Cohen. For the rabbi, Judaism can open doors and serve as a spiritual conduit for individuals who feel left behind by the turmoil of modern life. "Boteach writes passionately," Stephen Joseph stated in Library Journal, "providing much for the thoughtful reader to consider in matters of spiritual and mundane conduct."
In 2006, Boteach gained an even wider audience with the premier of The Learning Channel's new series "Shalom in the Home." In the program, the rabbi works with American families suffering from different types of stress, trying to resolve the issues that are tearing them apart. "For me, family therapy is part and parcel of my being a rabbi," he told Chana Mayefsky in an interview for Publishers Weekly, "which is about mending hearts and healing broken spirits." "Insightful and candid," declared Joe Reality, a reviewer on the Reality TV Magazine Web site, "Rabbi Shmuley does not hold back as he gets to the root of destructive relationships, household dynamics, and parenting, yet his style is also remarkably compassionate and understanding." The rabbi later released a book based on his experiences with the families he assisted on the series. "Packed with emotion and drama," the Reality TV Magazine reviewer concluded, "Shalom in the Home shows readers how to bring joy into their marital relationships and parent/child relationships, thereby making home a place to escape to—not escape from."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2002, George Cohen, review of Judaism for Everyone: Renewing Your Life through the Vibrant Lessons of the Jewish Faith, p. 1647.
Library Journal, June 1, 2002, Stephen Joseph, review of Judaism for Everyone, p. 156; June 1, 2003, Stephen Joseph, review of The Private Adam: Becoming a Hero in a Selfish Age, p. 127.
New York, March 19, 1999, Lisa DePaulo, "Thou Shalt Have Dirty Thoughts," p. 16.
New York Times, December 22, 2002, "An Unlikely Friendship, an Unusual Morning Show; Peter Noel and Shmuley Boteach Are Crossing Racial and Ethnic Lines Rarely Breached on Radio," p. 48.
Publishers Weekly, January 29, 2007, Chana Mayefsky, "PW Talks with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Peace of Advice; Cable TV's Relationship Expert Holds Forth on Faith and Family," p. 60.
American Program Bureau,http://www.apbspeakers.com/ (July 2, 2007), author biography.
BBC News Online,http://news.bbc.co.uk/ (July 2, 2007), "The Rabbi, the Psychic, and the Pop Star."
Beliefnet,http://www.beliefnet.com/ (July 2, 2007), "Rabbi Shmuley Boteach."
New York Magazine Online,http://www.nymag.com/ (July 2, 2007), Eric Konigsberg, "Goy Vay."
Olam.org,http://www.olam.org/ (July 2, 2007), Shmuley Boteach, "Question of the Week."
Reality TV Magazine,http://www.realitytvmagazine.com/ (July 2, 2007), Joe Reality, "Rabbi Shmuley Boteach from TLC's Shalom in the Home Releases New Book."
Royce Carlton Web site,http://www.roycecarlton.com/ (July 2, 2007), "Biography: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach."
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (July 2, 2007), Sarah Blustain, "The Love Rabbi."
Shmuley Boteach Home Page,http://www.shmuley.com (July 2, 2007).
Slate,http://www.slate.com/ (July 2, 2007), Benjamin Soskis, "Who Is Shmuley Boteach? He's the Jewish Missionary in the A-list Position."