Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Boteach, Booker Affirm Friendship despite Views

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Boteach, Booker Affirm Friendship despite Views

Article excerpt

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of Englewood, the Republican candidate for the 9th Congressional District, and Cory Booker, the Democratic mayor of Newark, have been close, loyal friends for two decades.

And, as both explained on Friday, they expect that relationship to continue -- despite Booker's recent $2,500 expression of Democratic Party loyalty to Boteach's foe, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of Paterson.

CoryPac, a federal campaign account Booker formed last year, made the contribution to Pascrell's campaign fund on Sept. 11, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Boteach was not aware of the contribution when contacted. Yet both men took great pains -- through lengthy, prepared statements -- to say that the donation would not, in any shape or form, undermine a brotherly friendship that began when the two met at Oxford University, Booker as a Rhodes scholar, Boteach as founder of the university's L'Chaim Society.

"I was proud to study thousands of hours of Judaism with Cory at Oxford and over the last 20 years," Boteach said through a statement. "I was proud to open the doors of the American Jewish community to him because of the superlative human being he is. And I am proud to be his rabbi and brother, however partisan the political divide in this country. Nothing can, or will, ever come between us."

Booker, who grew up in Harrington Park, echoed similar sentiments in his statement, but also noted that he counted on Pascrell as an important friend, too. And he noted that Boteach's challenge to Pascrell has been the source of some stress.

"While he [Boteach] and I disagree on many political issues -- which is why I support my friend Bill Pascrell who has proven to be an exceptionally strong congressman for his district, Newark and New Jersey -- Shmuley has been one of the more challenging, thought- provoking, expanding and yet (as in this campaign) sometimes difficult friendships of my life. However, in the fullest sense he has been a blessing for which I am grateful to God," Booker wrote.

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