Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the “rabbi to the stars” who penned the best seller Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Love and Intimacy, is sorry, but he cannot accept the position of chief rabbi of the UK.
“I’ve recently been voted intergalactic chief rabbi of the Milky Way and several solar systems,” he told a crowd of British Jews at Limmud UK on Monday, a Jewish education confab held in Coventry. “Anything else will be a demotion and will come with a paycheck cut.”
All joking aside (Who said he was joking? – Aussie Dave), the New Jersey native – and Jerusalem Post columnist – who spent over a decade setting up L’Chaim, a successful and sometimes controversial Jewish student union at Oxford University, isn’t ruling it out. Not that he’s been offered the job. The decision as to who the succeeds Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, UK’s longtime chief rabbi, when he steps down next year, will only be announced by an ad hoc committee of eight in September. But if the right set of circumstances were to present themselves, the Orthodox rabbi famous for his unorthodox methods and for being a one-time friend of the late pop star Michael Jackson would think favorably upon succeeding Sacks.
“It’s not impossible,” he said of such a hypothetical. He “became a man” during his time at Oxford, holds British citizenship and is well acquainted with Anglo Jewry.
“If they want someone with strong conviction and to breathe new life into it with lots of things that I spoke about today, they would open their pool of candidates – not just to me but to others,” he said.
If he were offered the job – and he was careful during the interview not to outright declare his candidacy, falling just short of such a move – it would have to be redefined.
Things are not looking good for Jews in the UK at the moment. If the Bobblehead Rabbi was appointed Chief Rabbi, they would look even worse.