A prominent Chabad Lubavitch rabbi in Toronto has condemned the latest book by celebrity Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and pronounced that it’s “forbidden” for anyone to buy or read it.
In an open letter published on the Jewish news website the Algemeiner, Rabbi Immanuel Schochet denounced Rabbi Boteach’s book, Kosher Jesus, as “heretical.”
The book “poses a tremendous risk to the Jewish community,” wrote Rabbi Schochet, an emeritus professor of philosophy and religion at Humber College and spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Joseph.
“I have never read a book, let alone one authored by a purported frum Jew, that does more to enhance the evangelical missionary message and agenda than the aforementioned book,” Rabbi Shochet said. “It is 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.”
The volume “must be rejected for being heretical.” The latest offering from Rabbi Boteach, a Chabad-ordained rabbi and former movement emissary who was criticized by fellow rabbis years ago for offering spiritual advice to the late singer Michael Jackson and for authoring the 1999 book Kosher Sex, explores the Jewish roots of Jesus and whether the exploration should lead modern Jews to “rediscover” and celebrate the extent to which the Hebrew Bible shaped his thinking.
In a lengthy response disseminated widely online, Rabbi Boteach said that he must “defend myself against the appalling and libelous charge of heresy.” He said his book paints Jesus as “a Torah-observant Jew whose mission it was to restore Jewish observance fully among his Jewish brethren and fight Roman persecution.”
“It’s time these universal Jewish ideas that have so influenced the world be traced back to their original source,” Rabbi Boteach wrote in defence of his book. “It’s time that the Jewishness of Jesus be re-discovered by Christians.”
As for Rabbi Schochet’s charge the book will embolden Christians to convert Jews, Rabbi Boteach said that the book “is the ultimate argument against Christian missionaries” because it offers “significant information to argue convincingly against any Christian attempt to evangelize Jews.”