Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Profiled In Tablet Mag

Great article: [Shmuley’s dad Yoav] Botach’s manner with his son was impatient, dismissive. “You don’t need to be on the phone now,” he chastised Boteach at one point, in Hebrew. “OK, Abba, OK,” Boteach replied. I asked Yoav if he was proud of his son. “Sometimes yes, sometimes no.” When yes, when no? “When he doing very well, no. When he doing less good, yes.” He chuckled at this enigmatic answer. “Yes, he’s OK,” he said in Hebrew. “He holds the Boteach family on the good name.”

… In the car, after we left Botach Management, “America’s Rabbi” told me to turn off my tape recorder and began shouting at me. I had betrayed him, seemed to be the gist of it. How could I have done such a thing? Do I have no journalistic ethics? The barrage seemed endless. “I am Shmuley Boteach!” he shouted at me on the phone a few nights later. “I am Shmuley Boteach! I am not Yoav! I am not Bar Kochba! What does this have to do with me?”

The next day, he called to apologize. “My father gave me a whole talk,” he said. “He is upset about the conversation, he’s upset at me, he’s confused.” That afternoon, we met again—this time, at his father’s house—and Boteach seemed placated. But the entente was short-lived.

Over the next month, Boteach made repeated calls to my editors, as did his publicists, who sent emails that accused me of “duplicitousness.” “Shmuley is an open book,” his publicist wrote to my editor. “He is hiding nothing. Yet, he needs to make sure that the Tablet will be vigilant in only publishing the facts.” Boteach claimed I misled him about my intentions regarding this story and, via a letter from his lawyer, asserted that I had clearly embarked on “a personal agenda and threatened to do a ‘hatchet job’ ” on him. In one email, Boteach wrote: “My deep disappointment results from my foolishness in having exposed my 82-year-old father, who last Passover suffered a stroke, to a journalist who would use him and so severely disrespect him.” Just before publication, Boteach declined to answer a list of queries I sent him. In place of answers, his publicist sent a message that said in part, “Rabbi Boteach declines to respond given the scurrilous and dismally researched character of the questions.” His statement accused me of having a “hidden agenda” because my brother once debated him, in 2011, at a public discussion of circumcision.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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