LONDON (Sep. 8)
Britain’s charity commissioners have frozen the trust accounts of the “Kosher Sex” rabbi’s L’Chaim Society amid concern about “the application and control of the charity’s funds.”
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who achieved celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic with his provocatively titled books — which include “Kosher Sex” and “The Jewish Guide to Adultery” — is believed to have transformed the L’Chaim Society, a modest student group he founded at Oxford University, into an organization that generates an annual six-figure cash stream.
During the past 10 years, the unambiguously brash and glitzy style of the New York-educated rabbi has attracted a significant following among Britain’s young Jews, but it has also offended many in the Orthodox establishment.
They were particularly upset when he sold an excerpt from “Kosher Sex” to Playboy magazine for a reported fee of $200,000.
Noted one media commentator: “For an Orthodox rabbi, Shmuley Boteach has an unorthodox way of doing things”.
The charity commissioners launched their inquiry into the society three months ago after documents handed to the police were passed on to them.
The commissioners, who monitor the activities of Britain’s charitable trusts, said they had decided to freeze the society’s bank accounts as “a temporary and protective measure.”
Their investigation is understood to center on payments that were made by the society, including contributions to mortgage payments on Boteach’s $600,000 London home.
Officials of the L’Chaim Society insist that the payments were made only after consultations with charity experts at a leading London law firm.
Trustees of the society say they believe Boteach’s success has “led jealous opponents to try to bring him and L’Chaim down.”
“For some months,” they said in a statement, “a group of individuals has bombarded the Charity Commission with scurrilous complaints and stolen documents, trying to force an investigation.
“These allegations are utterly without foundation,” they added. “That any Jew could have done this breaks our hearts.”