Celebrity rabbi Shmuley Boteach isn’t tweeting about the biggest media event of his family’s life: His nephew is the subject of a major motion picture out next week from Warner Brothers.
Boteach may be sitting out this particular press event because the life story of his nephew Efraim Diveroli is not exactly a proud one. “War Dogs,” based on a 2011 Rolling Stone article, stars Jonah Hill as Diveroli, a Miami 22-year-old who won a $300 million Pentagon contract to supply munitions to the Afghan army.
In real life, a New York Times expose published in 2008 alleged that the ammunition Diveroli’s firm supplied to the Afghans was “more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging.”
Months after the Times story, federal prosecutors charged Diveroli with using banned Chinese ammunition to fulfill his contract. He pled guilty and was sentenced in 2011 to four years in prison. Tablet magazine reported in 2014 that Shmuley Boteach had appeared at the 2011 sentencing and asked the judge for leniency for Diveroli.
“My nephew discovered today that he is neither clever nor wise,” Boteach told the judge, according to Tablet’s report. “He always believed if he threw enough money at a problem, his army of lawyers…that they would rescue him. And today here we sit. All the king’s horses and men cannot save him from the sentence you will impose.”
Diveroli was released from prison in 2014. In 2016, a company partially owned by Diveroli sued Warner Brothers over “War Dogs,” claiming that it used material from Diveroli’s self-published memoir.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who calls himself “America’s Rabbi,” is seeking to sell his mansion in suburban New York City.
Boteach, the author of such books as “Kosher Sex” and “Kosher Adultery,” and his wife are asking $3.5 million for their eight-bedroom home in Englewood, New Jersey, according to NorthJersey.com.
The price represents a $4 million drop from last November, when the home was first listed, NorthJersey.com reported.
Boteach, whose World Values Network has published controversial ads and hosted celebrity- and politician-studded events, declined NorthJersey.com’s request for comment on the family’s plans to relocate.
The World Values Network describes itself as devoted to “disseminating the light of the Jewish people and promoting and defending the state of Israel.” He runs the organization out of the Englewood property.
The Boteachs purchased the home in 2000 for $1.85 million. It sits on 1.65 acres and includes an indoor swimming pool, as well as a carriage house that, according to NorthJersey.com, Boteach unsuccessfully tried to convert to a synagogue.
According to the listing on Realtor.com, the home is a “gated stone manor” built in 1900 that is “just minutes from” the George Washington Bridge. It adds: Situated on “lush private grounds this elegant residence is for the most discriminating buyer looking for an exceptional opportunity!”
Boteach also hosted a TV reality show called “Shalom in the Home” and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2012.
Russell Brand wants you to know he’s not an anti-Semite.
In light of accusations made by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in the New York Observer on Monday that Brand is an “Israel hater,” the British comedian has written an essay in the Huffington Post explaining his side of things.
Being Russell Brand, the piece opens with an anecdote about drugs — at a Passover Seder, no less.
The year is 1992, I am 16 years old. It is Pesach, the Jewish feast of Passover; I am in Frinton On Sea, Essex, with the Hirsch family at the evening meal. Wine is drunk, there are incantations and Torah readings, my mate Matt’s little sister is beautiful, the sense of family unity and tradition is also beautiful. Me and Matt, now obediently sat in those little hats, kippahs they’re called, had dropped some acid earlier in the evening and the whole thing suddenly gets a bit too much. Matt’s dad is sort of singing in Hebrew, the old bloke they invite every year from down the street, is smiling with cardigan kindness, Matt’s sister is still beautiful, and of course, there’s the acid. I am overwhelmed by melancholy and, oddly guilt, at the holocaustal images that lysergically zip through my sad and lively mind and I, in front of everyone, begin to weep.
Brand continues: “I am at my first Pesach with a lovely family and feel personally responsible for the holocaust; I think that constitutes ‘a bad trip.’”
Check out the full piece here.
Russell Brand is no stranger to controversy. Between calling out Hugo Boss as a Nazi during a GQ gala and calling Fox News’ Sean Hannity a “terrorist,” the British comedian has certainly made his fair share of enemies.
Now, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has joined the chorus of haters. In an op/ed published in The New York Observer today, Boteach denounced Brand’s call to boycott Israel over the war in Gaza.
He probably would have been more effective had he focused less on Brand’s past struggles with addiction, and more on rebutting the comedian’s claims and arguments.
“So Russell Brand has joined the league of those demanding a boycott of Israel,” Boteach writes. “I’m going to go soft on him because of all the personal problems he’s had, with multiple addictions, 12 arrests for drug possession, rehab for sexual compulsion, and two arrests for attacking paparazzi taking pictures of him.”
Okay. So, Brand is a disgusting person. Does that make his opinion worthless, regardless of whether or not one agrees with him?
A moral beacon he isn’t. A light unto the nations? Fugggetaboutit. And I commend Russell for making no pretensions to being anything other than what he is. A comical, messed up, confused clown. There is something redemptive about his honesty that ought to be commended. Russell Brand belongs to a new, self-declared showbiz genre: the celebrity as moral idiot. And if he has such low expectations for himself, why should we make the mistake of elevating Mr. Brand and his fellow ethical imbeciles by taking him seriously?
Still not seeing any actual rebuttal to Brand’s claims that banks like Barclays “facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza.” Rather, Boteach continues in this vein of personal attacks on Brand’s drug use, “fried neurons,” relationships, messy divorce with Katy Perry — you name it.
One particular jab, implying “that he’s not exactly the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree,” manages to snub Christianity as a whole.
Boteach makes the point that some Hollywood celebrities do have the right to speak. Like Sean Penn, whom his organization honored last May.
Calls to boycott Israel should be scrutinized and argued. With arguments. Facts. Not personal attacks about how someone’s salacious past renders them unfit for any future brain activity.
(JTA) — Who needs another Oscar when you’re about to be crowned the 2014 Champion of Jewish Justice? Not to put words in his mouth or anything, but we’ll bet that was what two-time Academy Award winner Sean Penn was saying to his girlfriend Charlize Theron as soon as they stopped “making out like crazy“ at Madonna’s Oscars after-party.
Okay, so maybe we’d lose that bet, but for reals, Penn is set to receive the honor at This World: The Values Network’s annual dinner in May. The organization is helmed by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who singled Penn out for his above-and-beyond efforts to help free Jacob Ostreicher, an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn imprisoned in Bolivia.
“One of the highest Jewish values is to rescue a person from imprisonment,” Boteach told 6NoBacon.
While the former rabbi to Michael Jackson admits to disagreeing with the left-leaning Penn on most issues, he was amazed by the actor’s commitment to the Ostreicher case. “You never judge a man by his views, you judge him by his actions,” he said.
Ostreicher was in Bolivia in 2011 working on a rice-growing venture he’d invested in when he was arrested on suspicion of money laundering. He was also accused of doing business with drug traffickers. No proof was ever provided in court. The father of five was held in what has been described as a squalid, inhumane prison for 18 months before being placed under house arrest. According to The New York Times, Penn had a hand in the transfer.
Penn’s involvement in the case made headlines in May, when he spoke at a congressional hearing intended to pressure Bolivia to release Ostreicher. In December, Ostreicher finally escaped, thanks to what Penn called a “humanitarian operation” that moved Ostreicher across the border into Peru. Penn, who was reportedly part of the operation, remained by Ostreicher’s side upon his return to the U.S.
“Penn had no obligation to risk his life for Ostreicher,” said Boteach. “I’d like to think he was moved by the simplest of reasons – to save another human being in need.”
No word on whether the rights to this truly remarkable story have been optioned for the big screen, but it sounds like the stuff of a great thriller. Or a buddy comedy about a spunky rabbi and a surly actor who, against all odds, find some common ground. Oscar material, for sure.
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