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April 4, 2012 4:12 pm

New Jersey’s District 9: A David and Goliath Battle of the Rabbis

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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach with Pope Benedict XVI. Photo: Jewishjournal.com.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach recently received the Republican party’s nomination to run for Congress in New Jersey’s 9th district, but it just so happens he’s not the only Rabbi running in the race.

Rabbi Dovid Smith, running as an independent, has also decided to run for the historically democratic seat, going up against Boteach and one of two congressional incumbents, Steve Rothman or Bill Pascrell, both of whom are democrats.

“I don’t know anything about him but I welcome another Rabbi entering the race.  One of the main points about my candidacy is about how America needs to hear Jewish social values as opposed to hearing values that are only inspired by our Christian brothers and sisters,” Boteach said in an interview with The Algemeiner.

Smith says his campaign is focused on individual liberties.

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“I take a look at each piece of legislation, and say, ‘this law, this measure that’s being promoted, is it going to increase our freedom or take away from our freedom?,'” he said.

Smith, who says the idea to run for Congress came from his children during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, is not nearly as well known as Boteach inside New Jersey but he says he’s not concerned about that.

“I don’t spend my time looking at the other horses in the race.  I don’t know a lot about what Boteach stands for, with the limited amount he’s put out on what he’d like to do with a marriage counseling deduction and creating a family day on Sunday,” he said.

“I think the issues run much deeper and there’s a tremendous amount at stake right now,” he added.

According to Ben Dworkin, Director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, Smith faces a substantial obstacle in getting the word out about his campaign.

“There are 750,000 people who live in this district and Rabbi Smith is going to have an uphill battle over the next few months to introduce himself to all of those folks,” he said.

Rabbi Smith seemed to affirm Dworkin’s claim, saying the campaign is still a grassroots effort at the moment.

“We’re mainly spending our time right now on door to door meeting people, and building the campaign, the campaign structure, and a network of volunteers.”

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  • HY GERSHON

    The photo of Rabbi Boteach with the pope disturbs me a bit. How come the yarmulka that his eminence is wearing is quite a bit larger than the one the good Rabbi is wearing? Perhaps Reb Shmulie should find one that covers more of his head.

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