Thursday, April 18, 2024

Michael Jackson’s Rabbi Shmuley Is Back, Throwing a Charity Gala for Where Charity Begins: At Home


Shmuley Boteach is back. “America’s Rabbi” once told the UK Independent that the 11th Commandment was “thou shalt do anything for publicity and recognition.” You know Shmuley, supporter of Trump, such a good friend of Steve Bannon that he Tweeted out a selfie in the loathed White House adviser’s office that revealed Bannon’s white planning board in the background. That Shmuley.

The one time BFF of Michael Jackson (who published private transcripts of conversations with Jackson after the singer’s death) has a long sketchy history of raising money for charity. This Sunday, he’s throwing his annual gala for the World Values Network at Cipirani 42nd st. Tickets range from $500—to tables for $100,000. Who gets the money? That’s a good question.

According to the form 990 most recent tax filing available for World Values Network, Shmuley’s self invented charity generated revenue of $2.7 million in 2015. Who’s getting all that money? None of it-not one penny–went to grants to other organizations or assistance to individuals. But a whopping $701,577 went to salaries. (That number was up from $474,424 in 2014.) Of that total, Rabbi Shmuley paid himself $330,371. Another $300,000 is listed as “Other salaries and wages.” They are not specified. No other paid staff members are listed.

So what is the World Values Network? For one thing, it’s headquartered at Boteach’s New Jersey home.  Its mission statement in the 2014 filing says: “The World Values Network is based on the teachings of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and his passion for bringing universal Jewish values to mainstream American culture and beyond.” He adds, preposterously: “Judaism’s core values are not widely known in either Jewish or secular circles.”

The 2015 World Values Network Form 990 expense sheet is full of unexplained outlays of money. For example: $700,485 for “public outreach advertising.” There’s $221,020 for “Other.” Total functional expenses: $2,242,887. Net assets at the end of 2015 were $921,443.

On the list of officers of the World Values Network, Boteach intentionally misidentifies himself as “Jacob Botach.” Jacob is Shmuley’s first name, apparently. ‘Boteach’ is spelled wrong on purpose. It’s not a mistake because the same name “Jacob Botach” turns up later in the report under Officers & Directors. Again, the deceptive listing of Shmuley as someone else is intentional. He’s listed on the 2014 Form 990 twice again as “Jacob Botach” with a salary of $273,077.

Where does the money come from? Boteach seems to be raising it through an annual gala. On Sunday, he’s using the Wiesel name to sell ducats. Tickets start at $500. Sponsor tables go for $100,000. Last year Boteach honored right wing Trump backer Sheldon Adelson as a lure. There have been other Adelson-related events as well. Boteach knows how to shmooze and suck up to the right people. Politics are irrelevant. Two years ago he used New Jersey senator Cory Booker as bait. Booker had been bamboozled by Boteach years earlier according to a report.

Boteach has also actually managed to get Sean Penn and Yoko One to his events. It’s unlikely either knows much about the World Values Network. But Sunday’s event– honoring Wiesel’s memory– may raise new questions. There is currently no one in charge of the Elie Wiesel Foundation. I’ve sent emails and left phone messages to the group’s controller, but so far no response.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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