I was very surprised to read that author and Rabbi-to-the-stars Shmuley Boteach plans to run for Congress. Shocked even. I recently had the "pleasure" of setting up an interview between Shmuley Boteach and Michael Coren for Michael's show The Arena on Sun News Network. It was a disaster from start to finish.
Someone interested in running for Congress should at least pretend to be selfless, kind and concerned about the people they will represent in Washington. Shmuley appears to have no concern for the people of any kind, only himself. I've always believed that one can learn so much about another by the manner in which that person treats the "little people." In my encounter, Shmuley bullied and kicked every little person in sight. Here's the story.
I first came across Shmuley Boteach when Michael asked me to locate him for an interview (I work as a chase producer at SNN). Shmuley had released a new book, Kosher Jesus, and Michael was interested in promoting it. We thought it would be a lighter segment, a fun segment. Boy -- were we wrong. Shmuley Boteach's interview was an epic failure.
I had been in touch with numerous assistants of Shmuley's, all with ridiculous fake last names, such as "Magnifico." The team itself was frustrating to deal with -- foreshadowing maybe? -- and very flakey. If we had all unanimously agreed on a Monday afternoon interview, it would be postponed at the last minute to the following week. If I proposed a date, it would take weeks for them to get back to me with any form of confirmation.
The attitude of Shmuley's assistants and publicity team were a little alarming, let alone unusual for people in the business of promoting, and I quickly began dreading any dealings I had to have with them. But I persisted in setting up the interview. My show's host, Michael, was keen to do the interview and it's not my place to decide to let a good interview fall through just because his PR team, for a lack of a better word, sucks.
On the day of the interview, hours before Shmuley was scheduled to arrive, things began to get strange. I got a call from his assistant (this one nicknamed "Credendino"). He called to inform me that Shmuley had landed in Toronto and was starving. He demanded a Kosher meal be ready for the Rabbi. All I could think was, how old is this guy? Is he not capable of finding his own food?
Besides, I doubted the food in the vending machine in the basement of the Sun News building would meet Shmuley's expectations. I began to panic. My job is to edit clips and to help make sure the show's taping goes as smoothly as possible. I didn't have time to run around downtown Toronto trying to find a filling Kosher meal for a man I've never met, whose tastes I was completely unfamiliar with. Furthermore, the interview was scheduled to be 10 minutes in length. Wasn't Shmuley adult enough to wait til after the interview to get lunch (just like the rest of us)?
Fortunately at the time, we had an intern working with us who was an Orthodox Jew. I asked him to go to a nearby grocery store and get something that would be acceptable for the Rabbi to eat. The intern raced to the store, raced back to the Sun, armed with ingredients so he could personally make the Rabbi a Kosher-approved sandwich. We thought the problem had been solved.
From the moment of his arrival, Shmuley was a diva. When presented with his requested Kosher lunch, he told us to get it out of his face. He had no regard for the time of the make-up artists or any of the staffers -- he only concerned himself with finding WiFi and a place to plug in his computer. He refused to rush, or indeed be accommodating to our schedule in any way. We've had some divas on the show before, but Shmuley really deserved the crown. He was rude to everyone, and it was a level of rudeness I have rarely encountered before in my life.
When I finally managed to get him over to the studio, the charade continued. He was constantly looking for a plug, WiFi, whatever. When it was time for him to be miked, he brushed off the audio guy and continued on his laptop quest. After all of our efforts failed to get him in the studio, Michael had no choice but to try usher him in. We were losing time, and in TV, lost time equals lost dollars. Michael's attempt was in vain, as Shmuley kept fidgeting with his laptop. Finally we got him into the studio. The interview got off to a rocky start.
In retrospect, I don't think Shmuley wanted the interview to go well. There was no point at which the process went smoothly. Michael tried to keep the interview strong, but it ended up in an argument in which Shmuley called Michael an anti-Semite. The cherry on top of this fiasco was, after his fight with Michael, Shmuley declared that he was hungry again. I sent the Orthodox Jewish intern back over with the carefully prepared sandwich. Shmuley assumed we were making a joke out of him and flew into a rage, insulting our young intern. Even the intern lost his temper.
Shmuley then had the audacity to write a blog in the HuffPost (to which he is a contributor), publicly accusing Michael of anti-semitism. (You can read Michael's reply here.) B'nai Brith Canada objected to this characterization of Michael. The Rabbi then wrote a blog that withdrew his accusation of Michael Coren as an anti-semite.
Still, as a Jew myself I can say this: Shmuley, you're a shondah for the goyim.
The idea of electing Shmuley for Congress is ridiculous -- even the State of Israel has formed a unified government to get rid of the crazy extremist voices a la Shmuley in the Knesset. If this is how Shmuley behaves at a quick 10 minute TV interview, I would hate to imagine his behaviour in Washington.
Residents of New Jersey, vote against Shmuley. Vote for anyone -- just not him. I doubt he'll vote for you.
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