Magician endorses Boteach as UK chief rabbi

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
January 4, 2012 05:59

Israeli-British magician Uri Geller supports Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to succeed UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Shmuely Boteach 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is set to step down from his position next September but the race to find a successor is already heating up.

Israeli-British magician Uri Geller sent a letter to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday in which he came out in support of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to fill the vacancy.

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Geller said British Jewry had come under “sustained attack” from the media, politicians and the “self-destructive fashion for atheism” in recent decades. It needed a religious leader who would not shy away from controversy while at the same time be able to harmonize different Jewish denominations.

“There is, quite simply, only one man with the qualifications for the job,” he wrote.

“That man is Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. I am proud to call him my friend, and I'd be prouder still to see him at the helm of the Jewish faith in Britain.”

Geller became famous for bending spoons and stopping clocks on television in the 1970s. Boteach, who is a popular author that also writes a column for the Post, began his career at Oxford University where he spent more than a decade setting up a Jewish student organization. The two men were both friends of the late singer Michael Jackson.

Several other possible replacements for Sacks have been named, though there is no clear front-runner.

Boteach was not available for comment by press time.

This week, Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former Israeli minister of social and Diaspora affairs and the chief rabbi of Norway, said he was flattered by rumors that he might be offered the job but that it was not currently on his agenda.


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