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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘judaism’

The Judaism Of Joseph Pulitzer

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

His name is emblematic of the journalism profession itself. Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911), revered and reviled in equal measure, is best known for perfecting the art of investigative reporting; introducing the techniques of “new journalism” to the newspapers he acquired; his crusades against big business and corruption; and, at a time when industrial capitalism was on the rise, his bold and courageous support of anti-trust enforcement.

His New York World revolutionized journalism with its signature blend of muckraking investigations; crusading editorials; sensational crime, disaster, entertainment, and human-interest stories; staged news stunts; and colorful graphics. The bane of the corrupt politicians and well-heeled oligarchs who controlled America and a hero to the labor movement, he was a champion of the freedom of the press on the one hand and an enthusiastic practitioner of yellow journalism on the other.

The fierce competition between his World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal opened the way for mass circulation newspapers that depend on advertising revenue and appealed to the reader with multiple forms of news, entertainment, and advertising. Pulitzer also innovated the extensive use of illustrations and the development of the sports pages.

A leading national figure in the Democratic Party, was elected as a New York congressman, serving one term (1885-86).

Today, however, he is best remembered for establishing the Pulitzer Prizes (1917) through the bequeath of prize money to Columbia University to recognize American achievements in journalism, photography, literature, history, poetry, music, drama, and cartooning. He also donated money to found the Columbia School of Journalism.

Perhaps equally important, however, Pulitzer’s life stands as a metaphor for Jewish achievement and success in America in the face of vile and unremitting anti-Semitism.

Until recently, historians blindly accepted Pulitzer’s dubious account of his ancestry – that his father was a Hungarian Jew from Budapest and his mother “a devout Roman Catholic.” Though he was generally reticent when it came to discussing his ethnic and religious origins, he told biographers he was Jewish only on his father’s side and that therefore, in accordance with the matrilineal descent rules of traditional Judaism, he was not really a Jew.

However, due to contemporary research into his background, no doubt remains that his mother, Elize Berger, was born to a family of Jewish traders in Pest and raised there as a Reform Jew. Among other evidence, researchers have uncovered any number of official records, including passports and issued passes that conform Pulitzer’s mother was a Hungarian-born Jew.

Moreover, recently discovered Hungarian-Jewish archival materials show that Pulitzer was born in Makó and was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth; that he received a traditional upbringing as a Reform Jew; and that he attended a government-funded Jewish grammar school in Makó, which significantly reduced the importance of Jewish tradition. Each member of the Pulitzer family was registered by the official community Jewish registry as “Israelitic” under religion and as “Jewish” under nationality.

The assimilated Pulitzer’s efforts to distance himself from his Jewish background seem deliberate; he married an Episcopalian, raised his children as Protestants, never expressed any particular religious views (except perhaps Enlightenment-type skepticism), and never seemed to identify with anything remotely related to the faith of his ancestors. Yet, perhaps because his life was indelibly marked by the anti-Semitism he experienced growing up in Hungary, he not only crusaded to expose anti-Semitism in Russia, he also donated huge sums of money to Jewish victims of Russian pogroms and staunchly supported the unjustly convicted French artillery officer Captain Alfred Dreyfus.

Though his Jewish background undoubtedly played an important role in shaping his lifelong dedication to social justice, these acts in support of Jews may be attributed to his inherent sense of social justice rather than to his Judaism.

Pulitzer’s ambivalence toward his Judaism proved no defense, however, against the anti-Semites. After leaving Hungary to join the Union army during the U.S. Civil War (1864), when he served in a German regiment under General Philip Sheridan (his passage to America was paid for by Union recruiters), he was almost court-martialed for defending himself against the anti-Semitism of his fellow soldiers and officers. After the Civil War, he made his way to Missouri where, after working as a waiter, taxi driver, and caretaker of mules, he became a journalist, was elected to the state legislature as a Republican, went to law school, started a law practice, and quickly gave it up after purchasing the St. Louis Dispatch (1878); through it all, he was still called “Joey the Jew.”singer-010617

After purchasing the New York World in 1883 and serving for a brief time in the House of Representatives, Pulitzer remained the subject of regular anti-Semitic attacks and slurs, most notably from the vituperative Charles A. Dana, editor of the rival New York Sun, who called him “Judas Pulitzer” and one who “tries to repudiate his birth and ancestry.”

Enraged about being crushed by Pulitzer in the venomous circulation wars, Dana sought to alienate the New York Jewish community from Pulitzer’s New York World by viciously attacking its owner and publisher as “a renegade Jew who denies his breed, race and religion.” In all fairness, Dana was not far off the mark in this regard, as we have shown; even the Hebrew Standard editorialized that “Pulitzer is a Jew who does not want to be a Jew.” Dana frequently reprinted the Hebrew Standard editorial in the New York Sun under the banner headline “Pulitzer Repudiated by his own Race.”

There were frequent anti-Semitic media caricatures of him with an exaggerated “Jew-nose” and the widely-read publication The Journalist called him “Jewseph Pulitzer,” describing him as “combing his hair with his devil’s claws” and hiding in the shadows “to escape turning rancid in the hot sun.”

Exhibited here is an extremely rare June 9, 1877 correspondence to fellow journalist Julius Chambers, which is among the handful of surviving letters from Pulitzer’s early life:

 

Many thanks for your epistle. I will do the same for you whenever you come as near being cremated as your humble servant. What a graphic description you would have written! I hope you are well mentally, physically, morally, and pecuniarily. I have no doubt you are steadily and surely though perhaps only inwardly and invisibly developing toward that literary fame which I am sure must be in store for you, and so far a share of which you already possess. How many editions of your book were printed in this country?

 

Chambers (1850-1920) was an American author, editor, journalist, travel writer, and crusader against psychiatric abuse who served as an editor at the New York Herald before accepting Pulitzer’s invitation to serve as managing editor of the New York World. According to an article by Chambers, most of Pulitzer’s early letters were destroyed in a St. Louis fire on his 30th birthday, with our exhibit here being one of the only surviving pieces from that period. A year before our letter, Chambers had gained Pulitzer’s admiration after publication in 1876 of A Mad World and its People, a path breaking investigation into alleged abuses of the mentally ill. The work stoked Pulitzer’s reporter’s instinct, hence the inquiry: “How many editions of your book were printed in this country?”

Saul Jay Singer

Liberman: Shaming Hareidi Soldiers For Military Service Akin to Idolatry [video]

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman came down hard last week on hareidi communities who continue to shame those who choose to enter the military.

In many cases, men in those communities who serve in the IDF are severely harassed for that choice. Sometimes they are threatened and sometimes even physically attacked. Sometimes their families are threatened and hounded as well.

Minister Liberman focused on the issue last Thursday during a Chanukah candle-lighting ceremony in the Kiryah military headquarters in Tel Aviv with hareidi soldiers and rabbis of the Nahal Hareidi Foundation, which provides hareidi religious soldiers with ongoing support during their tour of duty.

In his address, the defense minister attacked the phenomenon of shaming hareidi soldiers, calling it “idolatry,” and expressed hope there will one day be a hareidi chief of staff and pledged to fight “with all his might” against those who attempt to offend hareidi soldiers. The minister kindled the candles together with Rabbi Tzvi Klebanow, president of the Nahal hareidi Foundation.

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“The start of every war is a breakthrough,” said Minister Liberman. “Once one person breaks through, everyone enters and follows him. You have truly made a breakthrough. There’s no other way to say it.

“The holiday of Chanukah is a miracle. When I look around this room, a great miracle occurred here, to see these people here as soldiers, perhaps the best soldiers.

Liberman went on to say that until he came to Israel on aliyah, he personally “never knew there was a contradiction between Torah learning and army service.” King David fought, he said, as did Joshua bin Nun. “I think they also had an understanding of Torah and Judaism, no less than Rabbis Deri and Litzman,” he said with some irony.

“You’re combining Judasim, defense of the homeland, and defense of the Jewish nation… Spiritual leaders of Israel always knew… when it was permissible for a Jew not only to learn, but also to fight,” he said.

Liberman added that he understood that for a Jew from the hareidi sector, the decision to serve isn’t a simple decision to make.

“I know how much we, to my regret, confront prejudices and how much we’re forced to fight unacceptable occurrences — all kinds of shaming, condemnations, and attempts to embarrass those serving in the IDF. This is simply unbelievable. Whoever in the name of Torah, attempts to denounce others, shames soldiers — he’s simply involved in idolatry,” he said.

“This is not Judaism. It’s definitely not identification with Jewish values, and it’s something that that we, as an army, will battle with all our might. We will not come to terms with it, and we won’t accept it. It’s not freedom of speech and it’s not just pranks — it’s simply damaging to Judaism and also to the holy of holies of the Jewish nation.”

Hana Levi Julian

The Sparks Of Judaism Come Alive In Belarus

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Rabbi Yisrael Taub of Jerusalem has been establishing and nurturing Sunday schools and student clubs in the small communities of Belarus for more than 20 years. His organization, Bamessilah, was founded by educators in Jerusalem in 1995.

Rabbi Taub related the following story:

“A Jewish child of around ten years old who learns in our Sunday school and lives with his devout Christian stepmother recently told me with glowing eyes that he’d kept two mitzvos that day. “My stepmother gave me soup that contained pieces of bacon,” he said. “I took out the pieces and made a Shehakol on the soup!”

Two and a half decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Belarus is still in many ways a communist country. Its citizens are polite and modest and take time to listen. The Jews of Belarus are interested in Yiddishkeit and are grateful that rabbis come to teach and reconnect them with their Jewish heritage.

Prior to the Holocaust, Belarus had large Jewish communities –Minsk alone had 300 Jewish mosdos. There were also great Torah centers in cities such as Volozhin, Grodno, Slutzk, and Brisk, among others.

Today there is a regeneration of Jewish life in Minsk, Pinsk, and Hommel. But few outsiders are interested in these small communities. Rabbi Taub took it upon himself to travel to these lonely communities and train local Jews as teachers of Jewish tradition.

Youngsters performing in a Bamessilah camp in Polotzek.

Youngsters performing in a Bamessilah camp in Polotzek.

The fruit of these labors grew slowly over the years but today many of the alumni of Rabbi Taub’s schools and clubs live a Jewish life in Belarus, other European countries, Israel, and the U.S.

“We are prepared for the fact that we will need to begin over again and again, as the alumni do not generally stay in these little communities due to the lack of religious infrastructure,” said Rabbi Taub.

How, Rabbi Taub was asked, does someone seemingly lost to Judaism in a place like Belarus “begin anew”?

“We arrange a bar mitzvah or pidyon haben party, bringing together boys with their parents from different communities,” he replied. “The children’s choir sings in Yiddish, the crowd is moved, and more new children start coming to the Sunday school or student club.

“A short story: I was leaving one of these parties and I heard a child tell his mother: ‘Mother, why didn’t you t tell me there are such beautiful Jewish customs?’ She thought for a moment and replied: ‘My sweet child, you know a lot more than I do about Judaism and our tradition.’ ”

Are there minyanim in these small communities?

“In some of the communities,” explained Rabbi Taub, “there are minyanim that gather on Monday, Thursday, and Shabbos. We try to send them yeshiva bachurim to lead the davening and meals during the chagim. Previously concealed Jewish souls are constantly being revealed and the bachurim return with moving stories.

“In Orsha, between Vitebsk and Moghilov, some women asked to arrange a minyan for saying Kaddish by the graves of two Jews who had kept kosher and organized the shechting of chickens during the days of Stalin. In Kalinkovitch last Rosh Hashanah, the bachurim went to blow shofar for housebound people, some of whom have the fear of the communists so entrenched in their souls that they refused the entreaties of the bachurim and would not allow them to blow shofar.

How, Rabbi Taub, was asked, does he manage to gather people for a minyan who’ve had no connection to Judaism for years, if not their entire lives?

“The first time we get them together is not to complete a minyan,” he said. “I announce that there is a doctor or nurse who will be giving medical services in the community center. Or there is a performance of Jewish children. They gather, are excited to be together, and plan to do so more often – usually on Chanukah and Purim, holidays everybody knows about, and of course for Passover Seder. Also, the distribution of food packages before the chagim brings many people to us and opens their hearts.”

The financial situation in Belarus, Rabbi Taub noted, is not very good for the average person. There are shortages of food and medicine; prices for the latter, he said, have skyrocketed and many areas have relatively few doctors, causing four-month waits for doctor visits.

“We put together medical services in five communities,” said Rabi Taub. “We buy medicines for120 elderly people who are ill with chronic and life-threatening – without proper care – diseases. Follow-up is done by a doctor or nurse whose fees I take care of. I receive a monthly report detailing which medicines were bought, for whom they were purchased, and their costs.

“We are also providing the communities with devices to measure blood pressure and sugar levels, which are loaned out as per a nurse’s determination. We still lack the funds for 40 such devices, but it’s a start.”

Rabbi Taub and Bamessilah are seeing dividends from their decision to make Jewish books available in as many locations as possible.

“We’ve set up eleven libraries in colleges in Belarus,” he said. “One time a student greeted me in our club. ‘I’m not Jewish,’ he told me. ‘Only my mother is Jewish.’

“ ‘How did you find out about the club?’ I asked him. He had found a book in one of our libraries. He was amazed by what he’d read and became curious about Judaism. He set out to discover more and found his way to the club. Less than a year later he called invite me to his wedding to another member of our student club.”

Speaking of weddings, Rabbi Taub proudly noted that they are becoming something of a regular occurrence: “This past year we married off six couples who were members of our clubs. Two of the couples reside in Jerusalem.”

Who funds Bamessilah’s activities?

“While people generally are no longer passionately excited about helping and donating to Soviet Jews in communist countries, there are still Jews with a sense of responsibility for their brethren who lack the physical and spiritual fundamentals we take for granted. These Jews continue to support us. Mi ke’amcha Yisrael.

Yaakov Kenner

Jews Rally, Counter-Rally outside Hoenlein’s Group’s Hanukkah Party at Trump’s DC Hotel [video]

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

More than 150 Jewish young adults yelled anti-President-Elect Trump slogans and sang traditional Hanukkah songs with anti-Trump twists marching from Freedom Plaza to the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC Wednesday night, during a pre-Hanukkah party that was being held inside by the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, the Washington Post reported.

Another, albeit smaller group of about 15 Jews called Jews Choose Trump held a counter-protest nearby. Lee Green, a Jewish member of the electoral college from North Carolina, traveled from his home state to voice her objection to the idea that US Jews demonstrate against Trump.

The group opposing Trump and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents, was made up of the usual leftwing, Reform-affiliated suspects, including Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the URJ, who called Hoenlein’s decision to celebrate Hanukkah at a Trump owned joint “tone-deaf at best, naked sycophancy at worst.” The protest was organized by If Not Now, a leftwing, anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian Jewish group.

Hoenlein told the Post a week ago that the Trump hotel was picked for the party “purely on a pragmatic basis,” and that “the reasoning behind it was nothing to do with the Trump name.” He explained that the Azerbaijani Embassy, which co-hosted the party with the Conference of Presidents, planned it close to a month ago, and couldn’t find a venue that was able to accommodate a kosher gathering.

The counter-protesters sang patriotic Israeli and American songs, and at one point, according to the Post, pro-Trump protester David Goldberg yelled at Sharon Kleinbaum, the clergywoman of New York City’s LGBT Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, “What is it that you think we celebrate on the festival of Hanukkah?” adding, “You would have been on the side of Antiochus rather than Judah the Maccabee.”

Back in 2014, Kleinbaum was chastised by many in her own congregation for reading the names of Arab children who were killed in the Gaza war, alongside the names of Israeli soldiers who gave their lives in the same war, creating the impression that the latter bore responsibility for the former. She is also infamous for her statement: “I do believe that Israel violates the human rights of Palestinians every single day. Both things are true.”

JNi.Media

Rabbi Adin Even Yisrael Steinsaltz Hospitalized in Jerusalem

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Rabbi Adin (Even Yisrael) Steinsaltz, 79, was rushed to Sha’are Zedek Medical Center on Wednesday after he suffered a possible stroke.

The Israel Prize-winning Torah scholar underwent a catheterization procedure to remove a cranial blood clot. He is reportedly awake and responsive to his surroundings in the intensive care unit at the hospital.

Born in Jerusalem in 1937, Rabbi Steinsaltz is known to Jews around the world as a teacher, philosopher, social commentator, and spiritual mentor.

He was referred to by TIME magazine as a “once-in-a-millennium scholar,” who has devoted his life to making the Talmud accessible to all Jews, in The Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud and a simpler book called, “The Essential Talmud.”

The rabbi authored many other volumes, including: “The Thirteen-Petaled Rose,” a discourse about Jewish existence and belief, “We Jews,” “My Rebbe,” and “A Guide to Jewish Prayer.”

The family has asked the public to please pray for the recovery of Rabbi Adin ben Rivka Leah.

Hana Levi Julian

ZOA Urges Hadassah and Conservative Judaism Movement: End Your Campaign Against Stephen Bannon

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its boots.”  Mark Twain

“Keep far away from falsehood.” Exodus 23:7

I, Morton A. Klein, am a child of holocaust survivors born in a displaced persons camp in Germany, and lost most of my family to that monstrous war against the Jews. If there were a hint of anti- Semitism in Stephen Bannon’s background I would be the first to scream out and fight against him.

But because, in the words of pro-Israel author of a respected book on anti-Semitism, Dennis Prager, on the charge of Bannon’s anti-Semitism, “it’s a vile libelous lie, fabricated, and a witchhunt,” I and the ZOA urge the Conservative Judaism Movement and Hadassah to discontinue their false, misguided, and hurtful campaigns against a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people – President-elect Trump’s appointee Stephen K. Bannon. The Conservative Judaism Movement and Hadassah apparently mistakenly based their anti-Bannon campaigns on false information that has since been disproven and retracted. The anti-Bannon statements and campaigns are character assassination of the worst kind against a friend of Israel and the Jewish people. Professor Alan Dershowitz, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Dennis Prager, pro-Israel philanthropist and Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, J Post’s Melanie Phillips, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and other Israeli leaders, writer and Orthodox Jew Joel Pollak and others all say that Mr. Bannon is not anti-Semitic.

It is important that the Conservative Judaism Movement and Hadassah stop being the “Jews of Silence” when it comes to a real enemy of Israel and the Jewish people – namely real anti-Semite, Israel-basher, promoter of anti-Israel legislation and anti-Israel platform planks and longtime Farrakhan / Nation of Islam activist Cong. Keith Ellison. Cong. Ellison is the leading candidate to become Chair of the Democratic National Committee. He will then control funds for candidates and have a powerful platform to spew his anti-Israel attitudes. Ellison has referred to Israel as an apartheid State, voted against Iron Dome funding, compared 9-11 to Reichstag German Parliament building fire which brought Hitler to power, and said don’t kill Islamic terrorist leaders because they want to be martyrs. (For details on Ellison’s horrendous record, see: “ZOA: Don’t Appoint Israel-Basher Cong. Keith Ellison Chair of the Democratic National Committee,” Nov. 18, 2016.)

Would Hadassah and the Conservative movement be silent if Ellison were running for Chair of the Republican National Committee? ZOA surely would not just as we speak out against him now.

Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News has been a great ally in ZOA’s and Jewish students’ efforts to combat anti-Semitism at City University of New York (CUNY) and other universities. At CUNY, vicious Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) demonstrators screamed “Intifada! Intifada! Death to the Jews!” at Jewish students. When Mr. Bannon heard this, Mr. Bannon instructed his reporters to contact and urge CUNY officials and New York Governor Cuomo to take action to stop the anti-Semitism at CUNY.”

Mr. Bannon opened an entire Breitbart News Jerusalem bureau (whose symbol is a blue and white “B” and Jewish star) to combat the “overwhelming anti-Israel sentiment in Western media.” Breitbart News also wrote: “Israel is the lone democracy in the most tumultuous region in the world, yet most of the American press portrays the small country as morally equivalent–if not morally inferior–to those who seek to destroy it.” (“Breitbart News Continues International Expansion With Launch Of Breitbart Jerusalem,” Nov. 17, 2015.)

Mr. Bannon’s Breitbart News articles are at the forefront, helping the Jewish people today. Mr. Bannon and his Breitbart News support Israel; combat anti-Semitism; combat anti-Semitic boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS); write about the human cost of anti-Semitism (including the pain felt by a Jewish student who found a swastika painted on her dorm door); expose the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s falsehoods and incitement of terror against the Jewish people; and expose Iran’s violations of the Iran nuclear deal. (See “ZOA Criticizes ADL for Falsely Alleging Trump Advisor Bannon is Anti-Semitic,” for references to many such Breitbart articles.)

So what is going on here? The falsehood that Mr. Bannon is ‘anti-Semitic” appears to have started with a false (later retracted) statement by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

ZOA spoke in favor of Mr. Bannon from its own experience, and from the experience of people we know who know Mr. Bannon well, and based on ZOA’s detailed analysis of Breitbart articles. In addition to confirming that Mr. Bannon and Breitbart’s fight against anti-Semitism, we also found that Breitbart’s staff criticizes – and does not support –despicable “alt right” white supremacists, and racists.

Orthodox Jewish pro-Israel writer Joel B. Pollak – who worked with Mr. Bannon for six years and knows him well – wrote that Mr. Bannon is “an American patriot who defends Israel & has deep empathy for the Jewish people.” (“Stephen K. Bannon: Friend of the Jewish People, Defender of Israel,” by Joel B. Pollak, Nov 14, 2016.)

Staunch liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz also defended Mr. Bannon, noting that he has “not seen any evidence of personal anti-Semitism on the part of Bannon” and that the claims that Mr. Bannon was anti-Semitic “demeaned the term ‘anti-Semitism.” (“Liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz Defends Bannon,” Nov. 15, 2016.) Dennis Prager said, “You are living through a leftwing lie as it is hatched. It’s an amazing moment to see. There is not a shred of evidence that Bannon is an anti-semite.”

Faced with such overwhelming evidence, the ADL quietly walked back its initial accusation, and now the ADL states: “We are not aware of any anti-Semitic statements from Bannon.” (See “Anti-Defamation League Backs Down: ‘We Are Not Aware of Any Anti-Semitic Statements from Bannon,” by Joel B. Pollak, Nov. 17, 2016, which also described how, sadly the ADL has continued to smear Mr. Bannon with other falsehoods.)

Unfortunately, it appears that while the truth was “still putting on its boots,” the falsehoods about Mr. Bannon spread, resulting in the Conservative Judaism Movement issuing a statement wrongly accusing Mr. Bannon of “anti-Semitism” and “white nationalism,” and a Hadassah campaign against Mr. Bannon that wrongly equates opposing Mr. Bannon to “combatting anti-Semitism” and strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

ZOA urges the Conservative Judaism Movement and Hadassah to immediately discontinue their false misguided, hurtful campaigns against a great ally and friend of Israel and the Jewish people.

Zionist Organization of America

Left-Wing Jews Are Embarrassing Judaism

Monday, November 21st, 2016

A highly respected American rabbi, Yitz Greenberg, used to tell American Jewish audiences, whether Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, “I don’t care what denomination you’re a member of, as long as you’re ashamed of it.” I have adopted that phrase and apply it to religions generally. One could just as easily say to Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims: “I don’t care what religion you identify with, as long as you’re ashamed of it.” Meaning, of course, ashamed of what many of its members have done to it.

Just think of what has happened to much of mainstream Protestantism; to much of Catholicism, including, sadly, the current pope; and most especially to the Islamic world.

Given the subject of this column — the destructive influence of leftism on Jews and Judaism — it is relevant to mention some of my Jewish involvement. Among other things, I taught Jewish history and religion at Brooklyn College, was the spokesman for the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, have written two books and hundreds of essays and columns on Jews and Judaism, received the American Jewish Press Association Award for Excellence in Jewish Commentary, have brought many thousands of Jews to Judaism, and have lectured to more Jewish groups in the past 40 years than almost any living Jew.

So, I say this with only sadness: Many American Jews on the left, including rabbis and lay leaders, are embarrassing Jews and Judaism. I say this to ring an alarm in Jewish life and to tell non-Jewish America that these people represent leftism, not Judaism. Furthermore, I am talking only about leftist, not liberal, Jews. Unfortunately, however, both within and outside of Judaism, liberalism has become synonymous with leftism.

This past week the embarrassing behavior of left-wing Jews reached a new level.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Jews and their clergy at various synagogues around America were gathering to “sit shiva” — the Hebrew and Jewish term for the seven-day period of grieving that Jews engage in after the loss of an immediate relative — because Donald Trump was elected president.

Consider for a moment how childish and narcissistic this is: using the sacred ritual reserved for the death of one’s child or parent as a way to express disappointment over a presidential election.

And, of course, there were the irresponsible, over-the-top outbursts by Jewish columnists and academics.

Take Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who devoted his column after the election to writing an open letter to his twelve-year-old daughter.

“As I watched the returns at Donald Trump’s celebration here Tuesday night,” Milbank began, “the hardest part was trying to reassure my seventh-grade daughter at home, via phone and text, that she would be okay.

“She had expected to be celebrating the election of the first female president, but instead, this man she had been reading and hearing horrible things about had won, and she feared her own world could come apart.”

The man’s twelve-year-old daughter “feared her own world could come apart” because of the election result. He reassured her, however, that her world would be fine, especially since she would be receiving so much love at her upcoming bat-mitzvah.

Milbank’s daughter’s trauma was more than matched by the reaction of a Jewish adult, Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine. On November 12, he tweeted “This is the worst thing that has happened in my life.” Chait was 31 years old on 9/11.

A response to his tweet by a woman named Bethany S. Mandel pretty well summarized the maturity level of Chait’s comment: “I took my mom off life support at 16 & dad hanged himself 3 yrs later. I’m sorry this election was so hard for you.”

I am sure Ms. Mandel would join me in paying Mr. Chait a shiva call.

Speaking of 9/11, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said on Bill Maher’s show that Trump’s victory was “a moral 9/11.” He suggested that Trump’s becoming president might be worse: 9/11 happened to us, but we “did this [elect Trump] to ourselves.”
And his colleague at the New York Times, Paul Krugman, wrote that he now realizes that he “truly didn’t understand the country we live in.”

Never have truer words been written. It’s tough to understand those for whom you only have contempt.

Add similar comments made during the election by other Jewish leftists in the media and academia and you get the picture.
How are we to understand this?

Here’s one explanation:

When Jews abandoned Judaism, many of them did not abandon Judaism’s messianic impulse. Beginning with Karl Marx, the grandson of two Orthodox rabbis, they simply secularized it and created secular substitutes such as Marxism, humanism, socialism, feminism, and environmentalism.

If left-wing Jews want to sit shiva, they should do so for their religion, which, like much of Protestant Christianity and Roman Catholicism, has been so deeply and negatively influenced by leftism.

Dennis Prager

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/left-wing-jews-are-embarrassing-judaism/2016/11/21/

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