(JTA) — Dr. Mehmet Oz sat down to talk with JTA on the Tel Aviv coast last week, but what he really wanted to do was go to the beach.
Oz, the surgeon and well-known TV personality, was in Israel for the first time and had a packed itinerary. He traversed the country from the Red Sea to the Golan, lectured Israeli physicians in a northern Israeli hospital and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
His host on this whirlwind tour was Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the author and sexpert who lives in New Jersey. The two met when they were both on an Oprah Winfrey radio program. Boteach recently gave Oz an award for being a “champion of Jewish values,” and the trip was paid for by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, another recipient of the award.
A Muslim of Turkish descent, Oz delivered a relatively conservative line on Israel in an interview, even casting doubt on the viability of the two-state solution. He also explained why he went to Hebron and Psagot, two controversial Israeli settlements deep in the West Bank.
It’s always good to have friends in high places… who are willing to open their wallets for you.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has contributed $5,000 to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s congressional campaign.
You will recall that the self-touted “America’s rabbi” and author of “Kosher Sex,” “The Kosher Sutra,” and “Kosher Jesus,” recently tossed his hat in the ring. Rabbi Boteach is also known for releasing “The Michael Jackson Tapes,” on which listeners can hear the rabbi and the late singer discussing the effects of celebrity, as well as for his “Shalom in the Home” show on TLC.
Christians have many. We Jews have a few. Muslims and Buddhists do, too, and the Hindus and Wiccans may soon get theirs. But despite the fact that 3,000 chaplains minister to the needs of active-duty service people in the military, none serve atheists.
That may soon change. “Groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large — and largely underground — population of nonbelievers in the military,” The New York Times reports.
Jason Torpy, a former Army captain who is president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, told the Times humanist chaplains would do everything religious chaplains do, including counsel troops and help them follow their faiths.
“Humanism fills the same role for atheists that Christianity does for Christians and Judaism does for Jews,” Torpy said. “It answers questions of ultimate concern; it directs our values.”