Rabbi Boteach on M.J.; Former St. Louisan takes to politics in NYC

Michael Jackson’s ties to the Jewish community may go deeper than Thriller being one of the most popular tunes played by DJs at bar and bat mitzvahs. Well-known author, lecturer and TV host Rabbi Shmuley Boteach will release a book based on his interviews with the King of Pop.

Boteach conducted 30 hours of taped interviews with Jackson more than eight years ago that are said to reveal much about the singer’s life, his views on celebrity and what motivated him.


NBC Dateline is scheduled to run a one-hour special Friday night, Sept 25 on Boteach and the book, The Jewish Week reported. The program will explain that the rabbi was taped in advance because he could not participate on Shabbat.

Shalom in the Home, will note that he and Jackson shared an interest in and commitment to turning Friday night into family night throughout the country, encouraging Americans to make time for families to eat and talk together without distractions.

“Michael loved coming to our house for Friday night dinners with his kids,” Rabbi Boteach told The Jewish Week.

The rabbi met Jackson about 10 years ago and struck up a friendship.

Boteach says that in the summer of 2000, and for about 10 months, the two met regularly during the week.

“We started our conversations on Shabbat, the only day of the week with no intrusions or distractions,” Boteach said. “He had nothing but distractions in his life; he was always so busy.”

Who could blame Carole and David Lander of Creve Coeur? After all, they have a lot to be proud of when it comes to their son Brad Lander, who was valedictorian of his class at Parkway North High School, graduated from the University of Chicago and has spent much of his adult life helping people find affordable housing and jobs. So when Lander decided to seek the Democratic nomination for the District 39 New York City Council seat, his parents figured they would start an Internet campaign of their own to help raise money for their son and celebrate his 40th birthday at the same time. On www.bradlander.com/blog they asked readers to contribute $40 to his campaign, knock on 40 doors to talk to voters about Brad and invite 40 friends over to meet him.

The idea paid off. On Sept. 15, Lander beat out four other competitors in the Democratic primary for the District 39 seat, which includes Brooklyn’s touted Park Slope area. Endorsed by the New York Times, Lander was praised by the newspaper as working for “affordable housing and more jobs, parks, mass transit and other community needs.” He will face the Republican candidate in the Nov. 3 general election.

With more than 80 quilts and fiber works, Quilt National ’09 showcases the best in international contemporary quilt art from quilters in 25 states and 13 countries. Two years ago, when the ’07 exhibit opened, I found myself lost in awe as I toured this amazing show. Friends had to stage an intervention to keep me from buying one of the quilts, which I clearly could not afford.

As it turns out, two of the featured artists in the ’09 edition are from Israel. Maya Chaimovich’s piece, Together and Apart, uses art quilting to express happy, strange and sometimes lonely moments. The quilt combines cotton, silk, wool, velvet and lace as well as synthetic fabrics from old clothes. Shulamit Liss’ piece is called Haifa Bay Lights and was inspired by the view from her son’s apartment on the top of Carmel Mountain in Haifa. Her quilt is made of cotton, which is dyed, bleached, printed, painted, collaged, and reverse machine-appliqu éd.

This juried show will open Saturday, Sept. 26 and run through Oct. 29 at the Foundry Arts Centre, 520 North Main Centre in downtown St. Charles. General admission is $6. In addition, on the first four Thursdays in October, a lunch-and-learn series will feature a different artist or textile conservator speaking about the show. Tickets are $10 and include a catered lunch and an artist-led tour through the exhibit. Visit www.foundryartscentre.org for more information.

Quilt National debuted 30 years ago in 1979 at the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, Ohio. The St. Louis installation benefits Safe Connections, which is dedicated to helping St. Louis-area domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.