New Jersey Senate Candidate Cory Booker Knows His Torah. So What?

Who at “Tablet” is responsible for hiring Yair Rosenberg? And who takes Shmuley Boteach, the Jewish Deepak Chopra, seriously? Both of these men belong to the “Jews who only have a career because their non-Jewish followers don’t know enough about Judaism to know better,” a club of which Michael Lerner is the president.

The story about Moses searching for the lost sheep is your best argument? The story is included in nearly 100% of Jewish Sunday School elementary curricula; is it adduced to show off Boteach as a teacher of Torah and Booker as a student of Judaism? Is this really the best illustration you can offer? Really?

I like and respect both Obama and Booker, and both of them deserve better treatment than the reductivist judgment to which Rosenberg subjects them. That Obama stresses finding common ground with others, particularly his political opponents, seems to me entirely laudable. It is absurd to reduce such a commitment to a lack of appreciation of diversity, a laughable and false assertion, both as regards the President and Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolfe, spiritual leader of Obama’s neighborhood synagogue. And to say that Booker developed an appreciation and respect for diversity from his association with Chabad is merely a bad joke. As a former Hillel rabbi I am unable to count the number of students who were made unwelcome at Chabad because they didn’t fully subscribe to Chabad’s viewpoint on one issue or another; it became my job to care for and support these students when the campus Chabad rabbi could no longer use them. And please bear in mind that my experience would be echoed by many, many of my rabbinic colleagues.

It seems that it is not only Gentiles who keep the Boteachs and Lerners in business. Undereducated Jews such as Yair Rosenberg have some responsibility for the phenomenon of celebrity scholarship and self-promoting teaching, too. —Rabbi Kerry Baker

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