Rabbi Shmuley Unleashed

I came on to Michael Coren’s TV show in Canada to simply talk about my new book Kosher Jesus, which has received wide attention throughout the world. I left dazed, having heard from him that Jews refuse to appreciate Christians, depict them negatively, and essentially control Hollywood.

Now Coren has shoved his foot far deeper into his mouth with a personal diatribe against me.

Personal insults are the last refuge of the intellectual coward.

All Coren had to do was apologize for these nauseating insinuations and remarks. Instead, he made the matter worse by complaining that I’m short, that my office had the temerity to request kosher food from the exalted Coren and his staff, and that I refused to exit his studio when he obnoxiously demanded that I exit the very moment the cameras stopped rolling. For good measure, he made sure to gratuitously insult Oprah and Michael Jackson for their mere associations with me, as well.

For the record, there is little I can do about my height, and I apologize to Coren for offending him with my diminutive appearance. Likewise, there is nothing I can do about being kosher. I will never give it up, no matter how much he attacks me for simply asking where I might obtain kosher food since I am not familiar with Toronto. And when Coren’s show asked me to take an early morning flight to Toronto – to talk about my new book Kosher Jesus – where I was traveling for my nephew’s wedding, my office simply asked if a kosher meal could be procured since I would not be eating the whole day and, as a kosher Jew, cannot buy food in most places. Even so, they told my assistant we would have to arrange and pay for it ourselves.

As for Coren’s libel that I threatened him with disclosure of his remarks about Jews and Hollywood, the paranoid claim is laughable given that he had just made his remarks about Jews on national TV in Canada.

It is absolutely true that I refused to leave his studio after his reprehensible treatment of me and his attempt to evict me just as soon as the interview concluded, demanding to see his superiors and finally meeting a man named Matt Wolf, executive producer of Sun TV’s prime time talk shows, who turned out to be quite a gentleman.

I make no apologies for my actions. I am somewhat who fights anti-Semitism and holds those who malign my people accountable. Coren can claim from here to kingdom come that he is a friend of the Jewish community, and that may be true. But that does not excuse his odious remarks. His comments about lack of Jewish appreciation for Christians and the connection between Jews and Hollywood are the very stuff of negative Jewish stereotypes and if he was not prepared to retract them – as Marlon Brando did years ago when he too insinuated on Larry King Live that Jews control Hollywood – then I will bring the matter to his superiors. And his claim that he was only speaking about ‘liberal’ Jews matters not a toss. For the record I am a Republican who is currently seeking our party’s nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District. But I will stand with my people, whatever their political persuasion, and will not allow them to slandered.

As for the Jewish intern of whom he speaks, how sad that some Jews appear to turn the other cheek even when their people are maligned in order to remain in the good graces of superiors.

More troubling still is Coren’s praise for Pius XII and his attempt to hold the Jews accountable for misrepresenting this most ignominious of Popes. Indeed, Sun TV cut Coren’s remarks about Pius from their online post of the broadcast. Why? And why isn’t the interview posted unedited? The public has the right to see it in its entirety.

I stand by my comments about Pius, a religious hypocrite who remained silent while six million Jews died and never once protested. Decent people the world over are repulsed by the memory of a man who disgraced a great Church by showing a total absence of moral leadership, refusing to even once condemn Hitler and the Nazis through all the years of their monstrous murders and tyranny.

An autocrat who told the Roman curia repeatedly that their job was not to give him advice, but to follow his orders, there is ample evidence for Pius as a collaborator with the Nazi government in their occupation of Rome. When the Nazis committed the heinous war crime of executing 335 Roman citizens – many of them Jews but most of them Catholic – in reprisal for a partisan attack against Nazi troops, Pius was implored to publicly protest and protect his personal flock. As usual, he refused to say anything that might upset the Nazis. It seems that neither the love of God nor the love of his fellow man could ever move Pius to publicly condemn Hitler, with whom he had famously negotiated, as papal nuncio, the 1933 treaty which the Fuhrer praised to his cabinet on July 14th of that year as being “especially significant in the urgent struggle against international Jewry.”

Pius even granted a secret audience to Supreme SS Polizeifuhrer Wolff, who had served Himmler as chief of staff and was, in 1943, serving as the chief of German persecution apparatus in occupied Italy. That Pius realized he was doing something that others would regard as scandalous is attested to the fact that the meeting took place in great confidence, and Wolff came dressed in disguise. Years later, Wolff had this to say about the meeting: “From the pope’s own words I could sense the sincerity of his sympathy and how much he loved the German people.”

The coup de grace, of course, was how Pius XII literally watched as the Germans, on Oct. 16, 1943, rounded up more than 1,000 Jews of Rome, nearly all of whom would perish by gas a few days later at Auschwitz. A special SS contingent had been brought in for the roundup, and since many of them had never seen the great city, used the roundup of the Jews as a partial tourist excursion. This brought them to St. Peter’s Square, where many of the trucks actually parked, not more than 300 feet from Pius’ window. Even as the Jews were herded aboard cattle trains and taken to their death, Pius dared not upset the Germans by offering any kind of protest. His strict policy of neutrality was upheld as the Jews of his diocese were literally turned into ash.

But while he did not prize the lives of Jews, there was one thing that Pius did esteem, and that was the bricks and mortar of his churches. As the British and American armies geared up for a massive offensive in the spring of 1944 to capture Rome, Pius suddenly found his voice. He condemned the allies for bombing the eternal city and ordered his American bishops to launch public relations offensives in the United States to pressure the Roosevelt government not to cause destruction to the sacred monuments of the city. This while the Nazis were gassing more than 10,000 people per day.

Not all Christians are like Coren. The vast majority are prepared to honestly study painful moments in the Church’s history, take responsibility for moral failures, and move on to a more Godly future with the Jews as brothers. That was the purpose of my writing Kosher Jesus, which is now a bestseller on many Amazon subcategories. My intent was to educate my Christian brothers and sisters about the Jewishness of Jesus so as to bring our two peoples closer and I am moved by the untold numbers of devout Christians who have written to me thanking me for the book.

What a shame that the moral courage required of such honesty eludes Michael Coren. And how unfortunate that rather than rising to the occasion of building bridges between Jews and Christians, he resorts instead to shameful personal attack.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, whom Newsweek calls ‘the most famous Rabbi in America,’ was the host of TLC’s Shalom in the Home, which won the National Fatherhood Award, was the London Times Preacher of the Year at the Millennium, and received the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary. The international best-selling author of 27 he has just published Kosher Jesus. He is currently mulling a run for Congress from New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District, running as a Republican.

Today I had what was probably the most unpleasant TV interview of my life on Canada’s Sun News Network (national). Interviewed by host Michael Coren about my book Kosher Jesus, I expected to be asked about the book’s content. The interview started that way. But then Coren quickly got to a question that seemed to be bursting from within. You’ll have to see the exact show, airing tonight at 7pm, for complete accuracy, and I am writing this about an hour after.

Coren essentially asked me why Jews depict Christians so negatively. He went on about how much the Catholic Church and Christians in general have done for the Jews of late. Yet the Jews continue to be so unappreciative, always questioning Christian motivation, always finding fault with Christians no matter what.

I asked him to justify his claim that Jews depict Christians negatively. He said something like, “What do you mean? Just look at Hollywood.”

Hollywood? I was confused. Weren’t’ we just talking about Jewish-Christian relations? Where did Hollywood come in, unless, for Coren, Jews and Hollywood were synonymous.

What was the connection between Hollywood’s depiction of Christians and the Jews, I asked. The show went downhill from there, with the anti-Semitic stereotype of the Jews controlling and influencing Hollywood dominating the interview. I defended my people against this disgusting slur, a tributary of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that the Jews control whole segments of society, in this case the motion picture industry, which they use to negatively depict Christians as a bunch of illiterate and primitive bumpkins.

From there Coren went on to speak about the negative Jewish depiction of Pope Pius XII, which I battled him on further. This was amazing. The Jews were defaming the saintly Pope Pius? For the record, I have written a great deal on Pius XII, the man John Cornwell, a non-Jewish British journalist, famously called Hitler’s Pope in his best-selling 1999 biography of the same name. Pius was the wartime Pope who never once condemned the systematic murder of Europe’s Jews through all the years of the holocaust and who, after the war, allowed the mass kidnapping of Jewish children who had originally been given by their families to Christians in order to save their lives. Pius advised, in the form of a typewritten directive discovered in a French church archive and dated Oct. 23, 1946, that church authorities not return to their relatives Jewish children who had been baptized. They must remain Christian and should not be returned to Jewish families.

He was the Pope who famously refused, amid unmistakable evidence of thousands of Jews being shipped to slaughter in Nazi concentration camps, to ever speak out against the Holocaust. This followed Pius’ successful efforts to prevent the publication of an encyclical commissioned by his dying predecessor to condemn Nazi anti-Semitism. This is also the Pope who sent Hitler birthday greetings every single year and who refused to excommunicate Hitler or any other top Nazis who were on official Catholic rolls (to give this context, the singer Sinead O’Connor was excommunicated). He ignored the pleas of President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill to denounce the Nazis. He later refused to endorse a joint declaration by Britain, U.S and Russia condemning mass murder of Europe’s Jews, claiming that he simply could not condemn “particular” atrocities. The most he ever did was a single pronouncement during the war on the murder “of hundreds of thousands.” By then, of course, there were millions, and he did not mention Hitler, Nazi Germany, or the Jews in the statement. Most infamously, he was silent when the Germans rounded up Rome’s Jews in October 1944 for slaughter. They were being processed for extermination in a military school a few hundred yards from his window in St. Peter’s. An Italian princess, Enza Pignatelli, forced her way into the Pope’s study and warned him about the imminent assault on the city’s Jewish citizens. “You must act immediately,” she cried. “The Germans are arresting the Jews and taking them away. Only you can stop them.” The Pope assured her, “I will do all I can.” He made no protest and nearly all were later gassed in Auschwitz. Curiously, amid the Pope’s inability to find his voice to condemn the extermination of European Jewry, when the Catholic archbishop of Berlin issued a statement mourning Hitler’s death, the Pope did not reprimand him.

Those who have read my writings, and especially those who have read Kosher Jesus, will know that I have unbridled love for my Christian brothers and sisters, a deep respect and affection I have written and spoken about on countless occasions. They will also know that I was given the great pleasure and honor of being greeted by Pope Benedict in Rome in 2010. They will further know that I am invited to address Christian audiences the world over, including in Israel. And I wrote Kosher Jesus in response to the great Christian yearning to discover the Jewishness of Jesus.

But people like Coren who perpetuate the anti-Semitic canard that Jews both control Hollywood and have contempt for Christians are a serious obstruction to the new era of Jewish-Christian brotherhood and rapprochement. It is an absolute lie that Jews have contempt for Christians. It is likewise a lie that Christians are victims of Jewish hostility, as Coren implies. The truth, of course, is that Jews have suffered mightily at the hands of Christianity for nearly two millennium. But thankfully a succession of great Christian men and women in modern times, led by Pope John XXIII, the greatest of all popes, and then by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, both outstanding friends of world Jewry, and joined especially by the 80 million born-again Christians in the United States, the vast majority of whom are phenomenal friends of Israel, have reversed this trend and made Catholicism and Christianity stalwart allies and friends of G-d’s chosen people.

Denying the past is not going to increase our friendship just as being limited by it will not either. This is a new time for Jews and Christians. Let’s forgo the old animosities, the old prejudices, and especially the old and ugly stereotypes. Michael Coren owes Jewry an apology. If he’s man enough to give it I will overlook his foul treatment of me, both during the interview and after it was over.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, whom Newsweek calls ‘the most famous Rabbi in America,’ was the host of TLC’s Shalom in the Home, which won the National Fatherhood Award, was the London Times Preacher of the Year at the Millennium, and received the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary. The international best-selling author of 27 he has just published Kosher Jesus. He is currently mulling a run for Congress from New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District, running as a Republican.

**Please support Rabbi Shmuley’s work and office and go to and donate. We appreciate your support.

If I run for Congress in New Jersey’s Ninth district, I will be squaring off against either Congressman Steve Rothman or Congressman Bill Pascrell, who have been squeezed into the same district and who are competing against each other for their party’s nomination.

Rothman and I have fought some tough, public battles against one another, primarily over the Libyan embassy, which is my immediate next-door neighbor in Englewood, New Jersey. I have also been critical of his support for President Obama on Israel, even when the President’s positions put unfair and unjust pressure on Israel.

But today I am writing not to attack a potential political rival but to thank him. I have already declared that if I run I want to be the values voice in Congress. In Judaism gratitude for an act of kindness is among life’s highest virtues. So here I present a much-deserved thank you to Rothman that I am not running by any political advisors or consultants, who would presumably tell me is ill-conceived given my potential battle against him this autumn.

Congressman Rothman recently nominated my son Mendy to West Point. To be sure, Mendy is an outstanding young man and earned the nomination through personal merit. At just eighteen he is currently serving in his second year as a Chabad student emissary in Frankfurt, Germany, where he is helping to rebuild Jewish life after the devastation of the holocaust. He also began visiting with American service personnel stationed on bases in Germany to cater to their religious needs and, having been highly impressed with officer graduates of West Point, decided he wanted to serve his country and applied to The United States Military Academy. To be accepted you have to be nominated by your Congressman.

This is where things could have gotten a little hairy.

Congressman Rothman knew I might run against him. But that did not stop him from rewarding my son’s application with the nomination to West Point. Rothman’s decision to put merit before political consideration showed character and integrity and I salute it. It also demonstrated a willingness to populate our officer corps with deserving men and women, whatever the political consequences.

Having been nominated, Mendy may join his elder sister Chana who has now volunteered for two years of army service in Israel – training male soldiers for combat – to help an embattled democracy survive against brutal enemies. Mendy is now down to 4000 applicants from which 1500 will be chosen as cadets for the West Point Class of 2016.

He faces an uphill battle.

Mendy has to be incredibly physically fit, even though his Yeshiva in Frankfurt has no gym facilities and he therefore has to daily improvise for all his physical activities, and this while having a grueling daily regimen of Torah study that begins at 7am, ends at 10pm, and is only interrupted for hours of spiritual work with the community. Still, he wants to serve his country and is convinced that the greatest force for good in today’s world is the US military consisting of the bravest men and women who are prepared to fight for the freedom and rights of total strangers the world over.

For recognizing Mendy’s commitment and character, I am taking the opportunity to thank Congressman Rothman in writing. Even if Rothman and I end up later doing battle in the fall, it will never be as dangerous as any of the battles that our service men and women fight daily in hellish warzones against evil terrorists like the Taliban in Afghanistan.

I pray to G-d for the safety of all our service men and women, especially my children, who may be placed in harm’s way. And I thank G-d for the opportunity they have been afforded to serve, and for the people through whom such service comes about.

Shmuley Boteach, whom Newsweek calls ‘the most famous Rabbi in America,’ is an award-winning national TV and radio host and international best-selling author of 27 books. He has just published Kosher Jesus. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

Bin Laden’s Burial and Other Religious Frauds

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach


The bizarre burial of Osama bin Laden at sea – an action necessitated by our government’s need to accommodate Islamic law requiring that a Muslim be buried within 24 hours of death – raises urgent questions about the definition of faith in America. Can a mass murderer be said to be religious? Can there be religious ritual without religious values? And should Western governments participate in this definition of religion as something that is preached as opposed to practiced?


For years US government officials as well American Muslim leaders have been saying that Osama bin Laden is not a Muslim but a charlatan, a man who ostensibly lived in accordance with Islamic ritual but whose actions violated the Islamic prohibition against killing civilian non-combatants. At his death the Islam Society of North America released a statement noting, “The ideology of bin Laden is incompatible with Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.” A spokesperson for the Muslim Public Affairs Council echoed the sentiment. “He basically hijacked Islam and became a disgrace to Muslims.” Why then if bin Laden did not live as a Muslim did it our government rush to bury him as one?

This unfortunate endorsement by the United States of faith as a collection of spiritual ritual unattached to basic laws of morality feeds a growing perception of faith-based hypocrisy that is alienating large numbers from religious tradition.


Religious truth is notoriously difficult to gauge given the competing claims of the world’s great faiths. For Jews the deification of any man is an act of sacrilege yet the divinity of Jesus is central to Christian belief. Likewise, Christianity affirms that Christ is the sole path to salvation. Yet Islam insists that Muhammad was a prophet who lived after Jesus and paved a new and exclusive road to heaven. Religious truth, therefore, is established by a different criteria entirely, namely, its ability to shape and mold righteous character in its adherents.


As a Jew I do not believe that Joseph Smith discovered golden plates written in Reformed Egyptian in 1823 which he translated with seer stones. But having had extensive exposure to the strong families and charitable communities that the Mormon Church has built worldwide, I do believe that in Western New York where he claimed to have found the plates Smith encountered universal religious truths that were incorporated into Mormonism and which account for the high ethical standards of his followers. Conversely, when a religious figure devotes his life not to compassionate acts but to a blood-filled apocalypse it is either him or his religion which is fraudulent.


Bin Laden never walked in the footsteps of Muhammad but worshipped a god of his own making. While the Koran expressly prohibits the taking of an innocent life in the strongest terms – “We ordained for the children of Israel that if anyone slew a person, unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he slew the whole of mankind” (Sura 5:32) – bin Laden told Al Jazeera in 2001 that those who say “killing a child is not valid” in Islam “speak without any knowledge of Islamic law” because murdering a child may be done in vengeance. Bin Laden subscribed not to Islam but toOsamaism, a satanic faith of his own making where he devised the rules.


Indeed, Bin Laden and others who preach murder in the name of G-d are in no way analogous to the Pastor or Rabbi caught cheating with a congregant or the Priest found to be molesting a child, and not just because the taking of a life is more a more serious sin. For while the latter involves acts of religious inconsistency, however heinous, the former constitutes outright religious hypocrisy.

The difference is not merely semantic but cuts to the core of human nature. Few pastors believe that adultery is not a sin and few priests would argue that child molestation is a virtue. So why do so many religious people disgrace themselves by acting in contravention to basic morality? Because humans are fallible and selfish, weak and inconsistent, which is not to excuse their actions so much as to explain their failings. They mean what they preach but tragically cannot always live up to their own moral preaching.

The hypocrite, however, is he who professes a piety that he himself never believes in merely for public consumption. I was not surprised that the video trove captured by our Navy SEALs displayed bin Laden as a vain and shallow man obsessed with his celebrity and tinkering with his physical appearance. It confirmed the hypocrisy of a man who inveighed against Western corruption while enthusiastically embracing its emphasis on image to the exclusion of spiritual substance.

The same hypocrisy can be found in home-grown religious hate groups like Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church who, with their loathsome slogan ‘G-d Hates Fags’, protests the military funerals of fallen soldiers claiming that their death is the revenge of a G-d angered by America’s tolerance for homosexuality. Here is an ostensibly Christian Church whose very foundation – whatever it thinks of homosexuality – is in direct contravention of the Bible’s core teachings of reward and punishment: “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.” (Ezekiel 18:20)

But notwithstanding the larger point of the difference between inconsistency and hypocrisy, the growing chasm between faith-based teachings, on the one hand, and the actions of the faithful on the other, is the greatest cancer afflicting modern religion and accounts for the popularity of the new high priests of atheism like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. They exploit the duplicity of religious ritual unaccompanied by religious values and use it to make a wider point, that religion is itself a control-motivated fraud and faith a money-making scam.


It was not Martin Luther who in 1517 was responsible for the Reformation but rather the crooked indulgences of a then-corrupt Church that had become religious without being spiritual, more interested in the soaring spires of St. Peter’s Cathedral than the moral elevation of its priests.


America is rapidly becoming a debtor nation of insatiable consumers whose unhealthy dependency on material objects for happiness three years ago collapsed down a $10 trillion economy. We are purveyors of an increasingly decadent culture whose exploitation of a fame-obsessed obsessed citizenry on television now passes for ‘reality’ and whose institutions of higher learning are often better known for drinking than for learning. We are in desperate need of the inspiration and moral realignment that only religion can impart. But it will not happen so long as we falsely define religion as a collection of empty ritual unaccompanied by moral behavior and values.


Shmuley Boteach, ‘America’s Rabbi,’ is the international best-selling author of 26 books including his most recent work, ‘Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life.’ Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.