Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell trounced Rabbi Shmuley Boteach 3-1 in a New Jersey Congressional race, but the rabbi was philosophical about his loss and wrote, “It was the journey that mattered.”
Rabbi Boteach was heavily backed by Jewish magnate Sheldon Adelson, but money could not help him overcome an overwhelming Democratic district. He won 24 percent of the vote, while Pascrell coasted home with 75 percent.
Pascrell and Rabbi Boteach spent part of the campaign arguing over the incumbent’s support by a Muslim cleric who is facing deportation and is linked with terror.
Rabbi Boteach wrote in the Huffington Post, “Thank G-d, I'm in a good place and miraculously in a good frame of mind."
He said he does not feel “sadness, but contentment” because he met many of the goals he set out to accomplish.
“First, I wanted to be a voice for universal Jewish values in politics,” he wrote. “ For years I had felt America was becoming obsessed with talking about gay marriage rather than heterosexual divorce. Abortion rather than men respecting women and replacing the recreational nature of sex with something of its sacredness. Contraception rather than the joy of children. I wanted to bring something of the joy of Jewish values to supplant some of the austerity of the Christian social sexual values which have come to dominate our social discourse and divide our nation.
“I also…I didn't want to talk only about economics, deficits, and national debt, but the value of human dignity that accrues through self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and economic independence.
“Most of all, I wanted to demonstrate that religious Jews, running campaigns based on Jewish wisdom and values and founded on a platform of a proud Jewish identity, can compete as viable candidates in politics and in every other sphere of American life.”
He said that his campaign was able to show that being a committed Orthodox Jew is not a hindrance to running for Congress.
“Running for public office has a profound maturing effect on one's character,” Rabbi Boteach wrote. “You have to wake up every morning and figure out how you will maneuver to deliver your message through all the noise and clutter of the media and the friction of politics. It toughens you up and sharpens your instincts. It humbles you and makes you utterly dependent on all the people around you.”
He noted that he never felt that being a rabbi would mean he could not be everyone’s candidate, regardless of the difference between him and Pascrell on Israel.
The rabbi also warned the Republican party ”to make some serious changes” and not concentrate on social issues at the expense of dealing with “so many of America's real social problems, like increasing narcissism on the part of our youth, a catastrophic divorce rate, the portrayal of women in much of the media as a man's plaything, the absence of a year of national service, the increasing loss of intellectual curiosity on the part of much of the electorate as shallow reality TV shows make us think less, and our addiction to material objects to bring us happiness.”