Congressman accepts dinner invite from political opponent

Instead of trading barbs on the campaign trail, two congressional candidates might soon be passing the challah bread at the dinner table. 

In an open letter published over the weekend in The Jewish Press, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach invites Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) to join him for the weekly Jewish tradition of a Shabbat meal: “Every Friday night at our Sabbath table my wife and I host all kinds of people. We love having guests and it would be my honor for us to host you and your family either this coming Friday night or whenever it may suit you, although sooner would be better than later.”

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 But Pascrell’s presence at the festive feast isn’t the only thing the Republican House hopeful is requesting — he also wants his political opponent to do a bit of promotional work for an organization he runs.

 The author and host of the now-defunct TLC series “Shalom in the Home” — who won his party’s primary last week — gives a shout-out to Turn Friday Night Into Family Night, a group that aims to bring loved ones together. Writes Boteach, “Part of the way we promote the initiative is with 30-second Web commercials featuring well-known figures promoting the important [sic] of family time (We’d be very pleased if you would agree to do a spot for us. It takes only about half an hour to shoot and its [sic] painless.).”

The celebrity religious speaker says Pascrell, who is Roman Catholic, wouldn’t be the first politician to grab a bipartisan bite to eat. According to Boteach, former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has pulled up a chair at his dinner table, and he and Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) “have shared hundreds of Shabbat dinners together.”

Boteach’s extending of the suppertime olive branch could be an attempt to help serve himself up some support in New Jersey’s heavily Democratic-leaning 9th congressional district or even drum up some interest in the writer’s numerous tomes. PolitickerNJ reports that at Sunday’s kickoff for his general-election campaign, Boteach told a crowd, “I have a life outside of politics. I have tons of books to sell all of you. This is about issues.”

But it looks like Pascrell might soon be sending in his RSVP to his election-year rival.

Ben Rich, the lawmaker’s chief of staff, tells ITK, “Congressman Pascrell said that he would gladly accept an invitation to Shabbat dinner.”