Despite reports, Boteach is not running for Congress – yet
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Despite reports, Boteach is not running for Congress – yet

Shmuely Boteach, who bills himself as “America’s Rabbi,” is not a candidate for Congress in the newly formed 9th district. That does not mean, however, that he will not be on the ballot come November.

The website www.politickernj.com and other sites have reported that Boteach is seeking the Republican nomination to run against either Rep. Steve Rothman or Rep. Bill Pascrell, who will face each other for the Democratic nomination in June. The report was based on the fact that Boteach sent a letter to the offices of the Bergen County Republican Organization informing it that he is considering running.

To be considered by the Republicans for the nomination, Boteach told The Jewish Standard, meant sending a letter of intent no later than Jan. 31. Boteach said he did so at the last minute, but has yet to decide whether to actually enter the race.

He said he has about two months to make up his mind. Among the factors that will go into his decision will be the amount of financial support he can count on. Boteach said that such a race will be an expensive one and that he would need to raise at least a mllion dollars in order to run an effective campaign.

Boteach said that he is considering running for Congress because he feels he can make a difference. He wants to bring Jewish values into the political discourse, the rabbi said. He also said that the focus by the political right on such hot button issues as abortion and gay rights has deflected the country’s attenton from the real values-oriented issues facing the country, especially that of divorce. As a congressman, Boteach said, he would seek to introduce legislation that would make marriage counseling a tax-deductible item. He said he has sought support for such a law from GOP lawmakers in the past, but while they expressed interest, nothing ever came of that interest.

Boteach said that although he was a Republican and may seek the Republican nomination for Congress (two Saddle River men also filed letters of intent – Blase Billack, a pharmacology professorat St. John’s University, and Bruce Wrede, senior technician at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission) – he also said he was a social moderate. He was not certain how that would go over with Bergen County’s Republican base.

Boteach currently is engaged in an effort, as yet unsuccessful, to get the City of Englewood, where he lives, to rezone his property for use as a synagogue. He insists that his filing of a letter of intent with the county Republicans is not related to that effort.

The rabbi writes a syndicated column that appears in a number of on-line and print venues, including the on-line Huffington Post and the daily newspaper The Jerusalem Post. He also appears every other week in The Jewish Standard. If Boteach becomes a declared candidate for the Republican nomination in the 9th district, his column in The Standard will be discontinued pending the outcome of the race.

Blase Billack of Saddle River, an associate professor of pharmacology at St. John’s University, and Bruce Wrede of Saddle River, senior technician at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, also submitted their names in search of the nomination.

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