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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS
Rabbi’s ‘Kosher Jesus’ book is denounced as heresy
Shmuley Boteach’s book focuses on Jesus’ Jewishness, portraying him as a hero who was not resurrected or divine. But some other rabbis express contempt for the book and forbid followers to read it.
Source: LAT, 2-6-12
Barak Boteach, 15, sells copies of “Kosher Jesus” by his uncle, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, at Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills. (Genaro Molina, Los Angeles Times / January 26, 2012)
For an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, Shmuley Boteach has a deeply unorthodox streak.
The bestselling author and TV host has written books on “Kosher Sex,” “Dating Secrets of the 10 Commandments” and his relationship with the late pop star Michael Jackson.
But nothing he has done in a career as one of America’s best-known rabbis has caused quite the stir of his latest book. Even before its publication this month, Boteach came under withering attack in his own Orthodox community, with critics accusing him of exploiting controversy to boost sales and some going so far as to accuse him of heresy.
The title of Boteach’s book? “Kosher Jesus.”
The book focuses on the Christian savior’s Jewishness, portraying him as a hero who stood up to Roman rule of Palestine and paid with his life. In keeping with Jewish theology, it does not accept his resurrection or his divinity. And it emphasizes Boteach’s belief that the New Testament intentionally deflected blame for the crucifixion from the ruling Romans and redirected it — unfairly, Boteach believes — on the shoulders of the Jews.
Given all that, one might expect Christians to take exception. But Boteach’s Jewish critics were way ahead of the curve.
“Boteach’s latest book is apikorsus and must be treated as such,” Rabbi Yitzchok Wolf of Chicago said on an Orthodox news site Jan. 10, using a Hebrew word that roughly translates as heresy. Wolf said he had “utter contempt” for the book — or, at least, for the title.
That, as it turns out, was the only part he had read.
“I am not the consumer that seeks to consume such writings,” he said.
Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Schochet, a prominent Canadian cleric, wrote that the book “poses a tremendous risk to the Jewish community” and proclaimed that it was “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.”
Both Wolf and Schochet, along with most of the other early critics, are affiliated with Chabad, a large organization of Hasidic Jews known for their strict religious observance. Boteach has a long and tempestuous relationship with the organization….READ MORE