British MP supports Boteach as next UK chief rabbi

MP Louise Mensch joins support for popular author, but some say Boteach less likely to be chief rabbi than “Baroness Neuberger.”

January 13, 2012 14:37
2 minute read.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

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


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A British lawmaker has come out in support of popular author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach as the next chief rabbi of the UK.

MP Louise Mensch on Friday said the popular author – who also writes a column for The Jerusalem Post - would be a good match to fill the position after Rabbi Jonathan Sacks steps down in September. The Conservative parliamentarian who represents Corby wrote in a letter that the New Jersey native would be a good pick because of his uncompromising attitude towards anti-Semitism.

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Magician endorses Boteach as UK chief rabbi

“[Boteach] would be a strong challenge to the virulent bias against Israel, and the at times anti-Semitic minimizing of Jewish suffering from terror attacks, that is perhaps the strongest challenge to the UK's Jewish community today,” wrote Mensch. “His passion for the faith is both manifest and contagious, and whoever is chosen as Chief Rabbi I cannot help but feel that Rabbi Boteach's candidacy would add immensely to a vibrant debate within the UK as to the challenges and opportunities faced by British Judaism.”

Mensch first met Boteach years ago when she became the first non-Jew to join L’Chaim, a student society set up by Boteach at Oxford where he was a Chabad emissary. While Mensch is not Jewish (she is married to Jewish music agent Peter Mensch) she said her time at university and friendship with Boteach left her with a love of the religion and its culture.

Besides Boteach, several other replacements for Sacks have been mentioned over the past few weeks including Rabbi Warren Goldstein, chief rabbi of South Africa; Rabbi Michael Melchior of Israel, and rabbis Ephraim Mirvis and Harvey Belovski of London, to name a few.

Last week Israeli-British illusionist Uri Geller sent a letter to The Jerusalem Post in which he came out in support of his friend Boteach. 

Simon Rocker of The Jewish Chronicle, the UK’s venerable Jewish newspaper, responded to Geller’s endorsement by writing that “the United Synagogue, I feel, would rather pick Baroness Neuberger as Chief than bring back Shmuley.”

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