Jewish Journal


June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson a Jew?



Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

No, but Michael Jackson’s ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, considered herself Jewish. I’m not sure if she would be recognized by a beit din, but if so, that would make her kids with Jacko, Paris and Prince, Jewish.

Jackson, though not Jewish, once considered rockstar Rabbi Shmuley Boteach a close friend, though in recent years Jackson got in trouble for saying things like about Jews like “They suck…they’re like leeches. It’s a conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose.”

Boteach, whose office has been getting overwhelmed with calls since news of Jackson’s collapse broke less than an hour ago, is in Iceland and couldn’t be reached on his cell. But here is an excerpt from a rare interview Boteach did with the SomethingJewish message board about his friendship with Jackson:

MJboard.com- What happened to Heal The Kids?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach- The initiative was only for one year. It did very good work and it had completed its mission of trying to get parents to prioritize their children. When Michael no longer had time for it there was no way it could continue so we were happy with the year it functioned and we left it at that.

MJboard.com- How do you feel about Michael right now?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach- I feel fine about him. He is a flawed man, like all of us. And he has a lot of good points, like all of us. I am, however, very disturbed at what he revealed in the Martin Bashir interview that he allows boys to sleep in his bed. That is immoral and unacceptable. I take him at his word that nothing is happening between him and the boys. But that doesn’t make a difference. It is utterly unacceptable for a grown man to sleep in a bed with a boy that is not his son. Period.

MJboard.com- Are you aware of the fact that some Michael Jackson fans feel as if you’ve let Michael down.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach- What an absurd statement. If anything, the reverse is true. But I’m not going to get into that. I have not been critical of Michael, aside from condemning his admission that he takes boys into his bed. So I’m not going to be critical of him now. Judaism commands me never to gossip, and I don’t. Many magazines offered me interviews to say bad things about Michael which I would of course never consider. Indeed, I rarely do any interviews about him at all. I am a Rabbi who believes in G-d. Hence, I stay away from the celebrity culture which makes men and women – celebrities – into gods, and that is misguided and unacceptable.

Hence, I never really comment about Michael at all because my involvement with him was not about him as a celebrity, but about the work we did together to help kids. When that ended, our relationship essentially did as well. I have no interest in having superstar friends. My interest is pleasing G-d, working to help people, being a decent husband, and raising my seven children.

But our friendship is over because I only want to be involved with Michael when we are both involved in helping children.

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