January 3, 2002
Bunny vs. Rabbi
Lindsey Vuolo, Playboy bunny, met her match last month: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
The two squared off in front of an audience of more than 150 people -- about three-quarters of them men -- at Makor, a Jewish cultural center in Manhattan geared toward 20- and 30-something Jews.
The talk show-like event included a lot of back-and forth between Vuolo and Boteach, who met when the media-hungry rabbi interviewed Vuolo for a Web site called Belief.net.
Miss November spoke like a poster girl for Jewish continuity.
"My biggest fear is that because I'm not as religious as maybe I should be, I won't be able to conduct High Holidays in my home," Vuolo said, her voice cracking with emotion.
When Miss November 2000 spoke about her "amazing" high school trip to Israel as part of an exchange program called Ambassadors for Unity, she choked up again.
Boteach, author of the relationship guide "Kosher Sex," said he respects Vuolo, particularly for her commitment to the Jewish people and for saying she wants to raise Jewish children. But he was critical of her choice to pose for Playboy.
At one point he told Vuolo that by posing in Hugh Hefner's magazine she had turned herself from "extraordinary" to "ordinary." Vuolo hardly reacted.
When Boteach spoke, Vuolo at times grimaced or arched her eyebrows to show her disagreement. Members of the audience alternately booed, hooted and cheered -- particularly for Vuolo, who seemed to have the crowd's sympathy.
And audience members weren't shy about taking shots at either the rabbi -- short, bearded, in a dark suit -- or the buxom bunny, who was dressed in a fashionable and sexy style that wasn't too revealing.
Yet it appeared the audience wanted to bury the controversial Boteach.
Boteach was criticized for his long-windedness and for his friendship with pop star Michael Jackson. He also was called a hypocrite for publishing an excerpt of "Kosher Sex" in Playboy.
"Where am I going to put this, the synagogue newsletter?" Boteach responded. "I'm going to put this in the place where it's most important to be read."
Articles courtesy of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.