My last post was about Jews for Jesus in Australia. My friend Rabbi Eli Cohen in Sydney has been actively working for Jews for Judaism and doing counter-missionary work. I just finished discussing with him Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s new book “Kosher Jesus.” Eli mentioned that he wrote a few thoughts of what he thinks about the book and agreed I could share it on Traveling Rabbi.

So here it is from Rabbi Eli Cohen:

My “personal” thoughts after reading the book “Kosher Jesus” cover to cover.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach should have had more foresight into the public reaction to his book that was coming his way.

The title and the synopsis that Shmuley chose to use to promote his book was reckless and damaging. The immediate impression it has given the public is one that has caused irreparable damage.

The book’s suggestion that Christians have misunderstood their “savior” will undoubtedly offend many Bible-believing Christians; nevertheless, they may also see this book as an opportune tool for Jewish evangelism. The next time a Jew is approached by a missionary the question will be “what do you think of “Kosher Jesus”” ?
Many unsuspecting Jews upon hearing about this new book “Kosher Jesus,” written by an orthodox Rabbi, may suffice themselves with the title and a brief excerpt or synopsis available online and glean from it that Jesus is now “Kosher” without bothering to read the inside of the book. This is a real concern that Shmuley seems to have either overlooked or failed to fully appreciate.

HOWEVER, if you actually read the inside of it you’ll see that the content inside the book is not THAT bad/heretical (although I personally wouldn’t give it to anyone Jewish not already caught up with Christianity). I also wouldn’t say that Judaism needs to look further then its own sacred teaching to find moral and ethical values without any additional help from Shmuley pointing to the quotes recorded NT (which may or may not have been quoting Jewish sources) for confirmation.

His “scholarship” leaves much to be desired as he has made a number of serious mistakes both in regards to Judaism and even more so with regards to his understanding of Christianity and the NT.

His latest “Fiction Novel” (which is what I would call it) is a compilation of his personal opinions sprinkled with his fanciful imagination that he has vocalised at his debates with Christians. These view formed by Shmuley are inspired by the views of a British Jewish scholar of the University of Leeds, Hyam Mccoby OBM, and Shmuley’s obsession with “universal religious ethics”. In other words in Shmuley’s mind, Jesus and Shumley as so like-minded it’s frightening.

I personally would consider giving the book to “messianic” friends of mine that have a good sense of humour.

As someone who is in the anti-missionary field, I have a different concern. If Shmuley’s “Fiction Novel” is looked to as an authority for the Jewish response to Christianity, the Christians will make a laughingstock of the book and say “is this is the best response to Christianity that Judaism could come up with? Another “DaVinci Code”? The mistakes in the book reveal that author is lacking any serious familiarity with and understanding of both Christianity and the NT.”

As usual though, Shmuley does make some traditional and valid arguments against Christianity which are already well known by anyone who has ever dealt with this issue.

One remark to Shmuley, had you come to me or anyone else in this field, you could have received constructive criticism that would have helped the book pack a serious punch.


4 Responses to “Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s new book “Kosher Jesus””

  1. Has anyone read ‘Kosher Jesus’ by Shmuley Boteach?
    Do you think it is okay to use the title Kosher Jesus? Does this create an idea that there is a possibility that Jesus is kosher as is permissible to the Jewish world?
    Please share any thoughts?

    • I have not read Rabbi Smouley’s book… But just by the name alone…. could go many different directions. The question is, “is it being compared to standards Kosher to Adam’s time, Noah’s time, Ezekiel time or the according to Herod’s temple time in which Jesus lived, or today’s standard? My personal opinion is Modern Judaism is not Kosher enough to the standard of the past. It would be hard to compare Jesus to today’s lower standards. But why should we be surprised after all “Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s house”. The standards we adopted for guidance to modern Judaism… were a much later understanding to a kosher lifestyle we were indeed now living. As for the “Kosher Jesus” it is documented, he taught in the temple. Was a Rabbi, over thirty, in a Rabbinical circle and had a uncle in the S.H. He was raised in Jewry. I think its time to stop the childish argument and acknowledge the Talmud was sealed after his death and resurrection. We argue He made paste on the Sabbath and healed on the Sabbath… But we never admit we changed the Sabbath by adopting the Greek calendar. It is old… Jews are becoming smarter and realize the cover up.

  2. I haven’t read Shmuley’s book yet (doesn’t look like it’s been officially released here in the US yet) but the synopsis sounds very interesting. I’m encouraged that someone of R’Shmuley’s popularity would write what seems to be a very positive treatment of Yeshua — that he was an observant pharisaic rabbi who didn’t come to abrogate/nullify even the least of the Torah’s commands (as is commonly taught in many christian circles). These are issues that the Messianic movement has been fighting to call attention to for some years now.

    I’m sure I’ll have some things to disagree with Shmuley on though. Just as an example, I’d be interested to see how he takes up the issue of Yeshua’s resurrection in his book. All of the gospels present eye witness accounts not only of Yeshua’s death, but also of his subsequent resurrection as it was witnessed by his immediate followers — and not just his immediate students/talmudim, but also others alive at the time. Were Yeshua’s followers just blind zealots who “lied” in their gospel accounts, or did they really see and spend time with their resurrected Rebbe?

    Again though, I think at the very least, this book will challenge a lot of preconceptions about Yeshua that a lot of Christians and Jews have — and hopefully promote positive dialogue/understanding between what have historically been very divided groups.

  3. Rabbi Ben says:

    Rabbi Immanuel Shocet has been at the forefront for a number of decades combating missionaries targeting Jewish people. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shennerson told Rabbi Shochet to read the New Testament so he could then lead a counter missionary organization. I’ve heard some of his talks, and I’d dare say that being the brilliant scholar Rabbi Shoceht is he knows more about the New Testament, Christianity and Jesus than perhaps many of the Christian leaders. Here is a letter he has written in response to Shmuli Boteach’s new book Kosher Jesus.

    Greeting and blessing.

    Regarding the recent controversy surrounding a book released by Shmuley Boteach entitled ‘Kosher J’ I am writing this letter to express my authoritative view in response to those who have sought my opinion on this matter.

    While it is not normally my style to write letters of condemnation, having read the book, I feel it poses a tremendous risk to the Jewish community and therefore imperative to state my halachic (Jewish legal) opinion that it is forbidden for anyone to buy or read this book, or give its author a platform in any way shape or form to discuss this topic.

    It is not my intent, nor does it serve any purpose to engage in any polemic. It only enhances the sensationalism surrounding the book’s release. However, in the 40 years I have spent combating missionaries across the globe, I have never read a book, let alone one authored by a purported frum (religious) Jew, that does more to enhance the evangelical missionary message and agenda than the aforementioned book. The grossly distorted message of the book violates basic premises of original and authentic Jewish tradition, thus unavoidably must be rejected for being heretical.

    It is my sincerest hope that the author recognizes the error of his ways and looks to make amends by retracting the book.


    Rabbi Dr. J. Immanuel Schochet


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