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Monday, April 30, 2012

Michael Jackson’s Rabbi Shmuley Boteach runs for Congress in NJ

Michael Jackson’s rabbi is throwing his hat into the ring — in what could turn out to be a Thriller of a congressional election in New Jersey.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a onetime spiritual adviser to Jacko and a popular author and TV personality, is seeking the GOP nomination in the Ninth District, covering parts of Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties.

Why does Boteach, who has penned best sellers like “Kosher Jesus’’ and “Kosher Sex’’ and whose celebrity pals include Dr. Phil, Rosie O’Donnell and Elie Wiesel, want to get into politics?

“It’s highly unorthodox — no pun intended — for a rabbi to run for Congress,” Boteach said. “But who else is to bring values to the public arena?”

The man who calls himself “America’s Rabbi” was raised in Los Angeles and Miami and spent time in Oxford, Israel and Australia before settling in Englewood, NJ, a decade ago.

He said the death of the Gloved One provides the most vivid example of why he is seeking public office. He said he tried to steer Jackson away from drugs.

“Michael is the all-American tragedy. Michael was perceived as one of the most wholesome celebrities until he was perceived as the most damaged celebrity. It’s unbelievable you could have a change of that caliber,” Boteach told The Post.

“Michael lost his values. He no longer had the faith-support structure that kept him humble,” added Boteach, a father of nine.

“The problems we face as a nation are the erosion of values. We need a spiritual revival.”

Boteach, 45, is heavily favored to win the GOP primary. He’s a charismatic speaker with a sense of humor who may have cross-over appeal in the heavily Democratic district.

Speaking at a recent GOP event, he joked, “The bad news is that you have to endure me for two or three minutes. The worse news is it’s a Jewish two or three minutes.”

He also has powerful Democratic friends, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who attended Oxford with him.

Boteach, who is Orthodox, travels to Washington regularly to study Torah with GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, who is also Jewish.

Boteach generally supports lower taxes and smaller government.

“The larger the government, the smaller we become,’’ he said. “What people want is dignity. Dignity comes from self-reliance and self-sufficiency. People do not want to become wards of the state.”


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