Enough with the Booker-bashing, Rabbi Boteach

For the past 3½ years, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has used many of his biweekly columns in the Jewish Standard to bash Senator Cory Booker.

As Rabbi Boteach makes clear in his December 7 column (“In condemning anti-Semitism, Booker must practice what he preaches”), Senator Booker’s “original sin” was to support the Obama administration on the Iran nuclear deal, and his latest sins were not criticizing Iran’s President Rouhani and Louis Farrakhan sufficiently for their most recent anti-Semitic remarks.

Regarding the Iran deal, why is Rabbi Boteach still flogging this particular dead horse? When he decided to support the deal, Senator Booker sent out a thoughtful three-page letter describing his reasons. This letter showed that he had considered both sides of the issue and had reached his decision after much soul searching. He should be respected for that, not criticized for it 3½ years later — especially as the issue became moot when Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal.

As for Rouhani and Farrakhan, why does Rabbi Boteach expect Senator Booker to respond to every one of their vile statements? Does he expect the same of other politicians? Aside from not wanting to disseminate their remarks, I would hope that Senator Booker has better things to do with his time than respond to every racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise offensive comment made by any “leader” worldwide.

It doesn’t take a Sigmund Freud, or even a Lucy van Pelt from “Peanuts,” to figure out the reason for these relentless attacks. Rabbi Boteach describes Senator Booker as his closest friend and soulmate at Oxford; they shared Shabbat meals and studied Torah together. Rabbi Boteach evidently saw himself as Senator Booker’s mentor and quasi-campaign manager or political king-maker vis-a-vis the Jewish community. He likely also thought that when it came to issues regarding Jews or Israel, Senator Booker would take direction from him on how to vote and what statements to make.

When Senator Booker showed that he thinks for himself, Rabbi Boteach lashed out at him and continues to do so. Rabbi Boteach is acting like nothing other than a betrayed spouse, who, even after the divorce, cannot move on.

Or, to paraphrase William Congreve, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor Hell a fury like a Shmuley scorned.”

Richard J. Alexander

Why bother to study prayer?

Research is wonderful if it leads to the betterment of society (“Mysterious case of the Ritzeh prayer,” December 14). Of what benefit is finding the origin of an outmoded prayer. God was persuaded by Samuel to give the Children of Israel a king, and later, a temple. Both have ceased to exist in Judaism. Maimonides said that prayer is from the heart and is not found in a book because it is personal. God spoke to individuals, never to a mass of people!

Mr. Landes can accumulate all the knowledge required for his degrees, but to what end for mankind? Each of us is judged by man and God by deed that affects that person and others. Another book on the shelf to prove curiosity achieves no purpose. Knowledge for knowledge’s sake alone achieves nothing beneficial to society!

Shel Haas
Fort Lee

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