During my time working on my MA at Oxford University in 1994-96, I become lifelong friends with Shmuley. He was then the Chabad Shaliach to Oxford, and he and his wife Debbie helped me and many other students to live an active Jewish life in a city not known for observant Judaism, let alone kosher meals. After I finished my degree, Shmuley asked me to work with him on the L’Chaim Society full time. We organized some huge events with speakers such as Yitchak Shamir, Diego Maradona and Boy George, just to name a few. We launched Kosher Sex in England. We had a great time, and it was a wild ride.
In those days at the L’Chaim society, we had a group of very ambitious fellow students including now Senatorial candidate, Mayor Cory Booker, and many others who have gone on to become prominent in their fields. We created Shabbat dinners that lasted for hours with memorable and sometimes hilarious speakers. Like the time the Jewish monk gave an hour monologue on why we should all convert. We downed a lot of vodka that night to say the least.
Thanks to Shmuley convincing me to stay in Oxford, I met my wife Rachel who arrived in Oxford to do her MA in Jewish Studies!
Since then, Shmuley has gone on to publish more than two dozen books, appear on TV, radio, and tour the world speaking — and making quite a name for himself. Whatever you know about Shmuley, you have to admire his ability to generate controversy that makes the Jewish establishment bristle, tackle relavent subjects, and bring passion to Judaism. He’s a great speaker and debater, and worth hanging out with for Shabbos. He has a drive and mission and is trying to bring a new way of looking at Judaism to a wider audience.
Shmuley Boteach will be speaking Friday night and on Saturday during Jewlicious Festival 9.