Is Dennis Prager On The Board Of 'Heal The Kids'?

According to the 3/3/01 Daily Mail, Dennis Prager is on the board of the controversial Michael Jackson - Rabbi Shmuley Boteach charity 'Heal The Kids.'

Geoffrey Wansell writes for the Daily Mail:

THERE can never have been the prospect of a more bizarre spectacle in the entire 178-year history of the Oxford Union. Shortly after 7pm next Tuesday, Michael Jackson, the pop star as famous for his plastic surgery as for his platinum records, will rise to his feet beside the controversial Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, author of The Jewish Guide To Adultery, and the psychic spoon-bender Uri Geller to address the Union on the 'lessons that may be learned from children'.

Standing in the famous wood-panelled room made famous by speeches from Winston Churchill and Mother Teresa, the androgynous singer, who has amassed a 400million fortune, will tell the Union that he has started 'an initiative' called Heal The Kids to benefit 'children all over the world'.

But the 350 students who cram onto the Union's worn wooden benches won't be reminded by the singer that he has faced child abuse allegations and is raising his own two children without the benefit of a mother. Nor will he tell them about the tangled financial details that lie behind his socalled initiative.

As so often in the weird, even slightly sinister, fantasy world of Michael Jackson there is in all this more hyperbole than fact, more spin than substance. How do the singer's views on 'helping children', for example, square with the child abuse allegations that were levelled against him in the U.S. in 1993 - allegations that saw him pay dentist's son Jordan Chandler a reported 18.5 million in an out- of-court settlement. 'Jordy' Chandler was a 13-year-old child when police in California investigated claims that Jackson had molested him.

HOW does Jackson explain the fact that his two children, aged four and two, not only don't live with their mother, Debbie Rowe, but have seen her rarely since their birth?

Those uncomfortable facts about his own methods of healing children will be left unspoken, but they will not be the only omissions.

The 42-year-old singer, whose recording career has stumbled significantly in the past decade, is also highly unlikely to tell them that Heal The Kids is not even a registered charity in Britain - in spite of the fact that money is being raised in its name at the 10th annual 'Michael Jackson Day' concert in London on the evening after his Oxford Union speech - a concert he is expected to attend.

Jackson, who broke a foot last week but nevertheless insisted on coming to Britain, may also refrain from reminding the Oxford Union that he launched a similar initiative, called Heal The World, in 1992 - only to see it shut down in 1998 in the wake of allegations by Britain's Charity Commission that it had not made a charitable donation for three years.

In fact, the British trustees of Heal The World decided 'the name had been so disfigured by the actions of Michael Jackson that it was not worth continuing to run the organisation in any form', as their final minutes - which I have uncovered at the Charity Commission - bluntly conclude. When the trustees tried to contact their American counterparts, they received no response and even had a letter returned as 'not known at this address'.

After a final anguished appeal, a firm of New York lawyers eventually told them that the American Heal The World Foundation was itself being wound up.

His fellow speaker Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (pronounced B'tayer) will also talk about modern parenting. But the 34-year-old rabbi is unlikely to reveal that L'Chaim, the charity of which he was a director in 1997, had its bank accounts frozen by the Charity Commission in September 1999 in the midst of 'allegations relating to the application and control of the charity's funds'.

The usually voluble rabbi may also fail to reveal that after an official inquiry last year, 'an agreement between the charity and former employees was reached and a sum of 150,000 was paid back to the charity', in the words of the official Charity Commission spokesman, who added: 'The former employees were Mr and Mrs Boteach.'

Subsequently, the diminutive Boteach - he's just 5ft 2in tall, and a father of seven children - was forced to resign from the Willesden synagogue where he preached in North-West London after publishing a guide called Kosher Sex.

He was accused of conduct unbecoming - by bringing the rabbinate into disrepute - and publicly reproached by Elkan Levy, president of the United Synagogues.

NOW based in New York, where he sees or talks to Michael Jackson 'almost every day', the rabbi is the author of 11 books, including one titled Dating Secrets Of The Ten Commandments.

Bizarre though it may sound, Boteach and the reclusive star were introduced by the man who will lead them onto the Oxford Union platform - 54-year-old psychic Uri Geller. 'I met Shmuley at a Jewish Book Fair about three-and-a-half years ago, when we were each signing books, and I immediately liked him,' Geller told me this week, 'and I had been introduced to Michael by Mohamed Al Fayed about three years ago. So I brought the two of them together.'

Perhaps not surprisingly, in the wave of publicity surrounding Jackson's arrival, Geller and Boteach have this week been promoting a book they have written together called Confessions Of A Rabbi And A Psychic.

But after [Diana] Ross married businessman Arne Naess, Jackson switched his affections to Elizabeth Taylor, whom he now sees every week when he is in California, and whom he has invited to become a member of 'the advisory board' of Heal The Kids, alongside Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Elie Wiesel, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, American radio talk show host Dennis Prager - and Uri Geller.

This week Geller steadfastly defended Jackson, saying: 'When I met him, I discovered a very unusual, shy, spiritual, sensitive man. I have never really believed in the allegations, otherwise I would not associate myself with him.' But even Geller can't deny that after the singer bought his Never-land Ranch, two hours' drive north of Los Angeles, he began hosting 'sleepover parties' for young boys.