“In recent decades, British Jewry has come under sustained attack from the media, from political movements, and from the self-destructive fashion for atheism,” Geller stated in an open letter. “It needs a religious leader who would not shy away from controversy, yet be able to harmonize different Jewish denominations.” Boteach’s connections to England stem from his decade-plus stint at Oxford University, where he ran a Jewish student organization.
Geller – a self-proclaimed psychic who has in the past been accused of using simple conjuring tricks to achieve the effects of psychokinesis and telepathy – wrote that Boteach, who has authored more than twenty books, is a “proven leader, orator and iconoclast.” Both men were associated with the late entertainer Michael Jackson.
Boteach’s public persona has been filled with controversial episodes. He has written books openly discussing human sexuality, albeit supposedly within the context of traditional Judaism; he recently called the conflicts over public gender separation in Israel “a religious cancer” that should be “condemned by mainstream rabbis”; and he is preparing to release a book that will reportedly lend some religious Jewish authenticity to the teachings of Jesus.
“I am proud to call Rabbi Shmuley my friend,” Geller said, “and I’d be prouder still to see him at the helm of the Jewish faith in Britain.” Several other prominent names have been put forth as potential replacements for Rabbi Sacks, but none have emerged yet as a clear front-runner.
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