Jewish Journal

Dennis Prager

  • The Cologne rapes and our culture of denial

    3 weeks ago

    On New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany, more than 400 German women were sexually attacked and at least three raped by gangs of male immigrants, most of them from Arab countries.

    There are two truths that need to be confronted. But because we live in the Age of Denial of Unpleasant...

  • The moral and intellectual state of the Jewish left

    January 6, 2016 | 10:32 am

    There is at least one thing about which my critics and I can agree: The very many responses — published in the Jewish Journal and elsewhere (The Forward, Huffington Post and various blogs) — to my Dec. 4 column titled “The Torah and the Transgendered” are an excellent measure of...

  • The hate is all in one direction

    December 9, 2015 | 2:31 pm

    In response to my latest column, “The Torah and the Transgendered,” the Jewish Journal was deluged with emails to the editor and comments on the Journal’s website. Virtually every one of them is shameful. If you care about the moral nature and intellectual viability of American...

  • The Torah and the transgendered

    December 2, 2015 | 9:24 am

    Is the Torah really the best guide?

    Most Jews do not believe the Torah is a divine document, but rather that it is entirely man-made. For that reason, among others, most Jews do not think that the Torah is an appropriate guide to life. How many non-Orthodox Jews, when deciding...

  • It is a sin not to visit Israel now

    November 17, 2015 | 2:54 pm

    If you are a Jew who cares about Israel and you have the money to pay for a ticket and a hotel room, it is a sin not to visit to Israel at this time.

    That is a message every rabbi who cares about Israel should be conveying to his/her congregation.

    I just returned from another...

  • Is the Jewish future bright?

    November 4, 2015 | 9:42 am

    As reported by Danielle Berrin in the Jewish Journal, the latest issue of Commentary Magazine is devoted to a symposium of responses by 69 “Jewish leaders, theologians, and thinkers” to the question: “What do you think will be the condition of the Jewish community 50 years from...

  • Jews’ anger at Ben Carson’s comments needs explaining

    October 21, 2015 | 11:38 am

    Why all the Jewish anger over Dr. Ben Carson’s comments on guns, Jews and the Holocaust?

    Apparently, some, perhaps many, American Jews believe it would have been worthless, or, as Tom Tugend argued in the Jewish Journal, would have made things worse, for European Jews to have...

  • In defense of Jewish circumcision

    October 8, 2015 | 11:11 am

    This past week, I was in Miami for the bris (or brit), the Jewish ritual circumcision, of my grandson. It’s a good time to offer a defense of the Jews’ most ancient ritual.

    According to various reports, there are Jews — and not only Jews who have forsaken their Jewish identity —...

  • Should Europe take in a million Muslim refugees?

    September 24, 2015 | 10:29 am

    Should Europe take in about a million Syrian and other Muslim refugees? Should America take in tens of thousands? 

    In a recent column in the British newspaper The Guardian, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the distinguished former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, argued passionately in...

  • Do Jewish organizations alienate young Jews?

    September 8, 2015 | 4:21 pm

    We are told that Jewish organizations have to recalibrate their messages in order to appeal to young Jews. In particular, the argument goes, the opposition of most American-Jewish organizations to the Iran nuclear agreement has solidified the alienation of most younger Jews from...

  • Why many American Jews support the Iran deal

    August 26, 2015 | 2:14 pm

    The more one knows about the Iran nuclear deal, the more obvious it becomes that it is a deception that portrays itself as a deal. Virtually every claim made for it is either not true or is insignificant. The deal vastly strengthens Iran and its regime’s grip on power.

    • There...

  • Responses to 20 of the president’s arguments for the nuclear deal

    August 12, 2015 | 10:58 am

    There are many reasons the Israeli political left is opposed to the American nuclear deal with Iran, just as there are many reasons that Haim Saban, one of the Democratic Party’s and Barack Obama’s leading fundraisers, has come out against the deal. It is terrible for America,...

  • Is Munich 1938 a valid analogy for the Iran nuclear deal?

    July 29, 2015 | 10:00 am

    Many commentators — and not only Jews — compare the agreement between Iran and the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China to Munich 1938. Is this admittedly overused comparison valid?

    Let’s review what happened in 1938. That year, democratic Western nations...

  • One question for rabbis who perform same-sex weddings

    July 15, 2015 | 11:10 am

    For most supporters of same-sex marriage, the most persuasive, and certainly the most frequently offered, argument on behalf of same-sex marriage has been that homosexuals have no choice, that they could no more choose to be heterosexual than a heterosexual can choose to be a...

  • Male-female marriage remains the ideal

    July 1, 2015 | 2:08 pm

    Shortly before she was elected attorney general of California, Kamala Harris and I debated same-sex marriage on CNN. At one point, she asked me if I would prefer a child be raised by same-sex parents who have their act together (a paraphrase, but that was the gist) to being raised...

  • Opponents of death penalty and the escaped murderers

    June 17, 2015 | 12:32 pm

    As just about every American knows by now, two murderers recently escaped a maximum-security prison in upstate New York.

    One of them, Richard Matt, was described by a retired police captain as “the most vicious, evil person I’ve ever come across in 38 years as a police officer.”

  • Tikkun olam doesn’t repair the world

    June 3, 2015 | 11:52 am

    For most Jews who care about Judaism, the moral essence of Judaism — indeed its ultimate purpose — is tikkun olam, literally meaning “repairing the world.”

    For Jews who regularly use the term, it almost always refers to taking what are known as “progressive” social positions.

  • The UCLA Center for Jewish Studies, Judea Pearl and Cornel West

    May 20, 2015 | 3:51 pm

    Last month, the Jewish Journal published a plea from Judea Pearl, Chancellor’s Professor of Computer Science and Statistics at UCLA and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. Daniel Pearl was the writer for the Wall Street Journal who was murdered by Islamists in Pakistan. Judea...

  • 14 Questions for Progressive Jews

    May 8, 2015 | 1:39 am

    In a spirit of honest inquiry and intellectual challenge, I would like to pose a series of questions to that majority of American Jews who consider themselves progressive (that is, Jews on the left of the political spectrum).

    1. How do you explain the fact that nearly all the...

  • Worried More About Iran or Climate Change?

    April 23, 2015 | 10:30 am

    What an upside-down world most American Jews live in.

    Most American — not Israeli — Jews are far more concerned with global warming, aka climate change, than with Iran.

    Let’s compare the two threats.

    The Iranian regime has sponsored Holocaust-denial conferences; bombed the...

  • If God took the Jews out of Egypt…

    April 8, 2015 | 11:52 am

    If God took the Jews out of Egypt, why didn’t he take the Jews out of Europe during the Holocaust? Or out of Ukraine during the Khmelnitsky pogroms? Or out of Germany when Crusaders annihilated entire Jewish communities there?

    What Jew hasn’t asked such questions?

    There may be...

  • From Ferguson to Netanyahu

    March 25, 2015 | 10:57 am

    We live in a world of lies.

    On major issue after major issue, both domestic and foreign, we are saturated with lies.

    Remember the “Hands up, don’t shoot” narrative that dominated American media and all of the protests against a white officer’s shooting of Michael Brown, a Black...

  • Still keen on President Obama?

    February 25, 2015 | 10:24 am

    On Feb. 23, in a dialogue/debate in Miami Beach with Alan Dershowitz, I asked the liberal Harvard Law School professor if he still thinks it was a good thing that Barack Obama was re-elected president in 2012.

    Before revealing his answer, I would like to ask readers who voted for...

  • Leaving Israel with little hope for peace

    February 11, 2015 | 12:13 pm

    I left Israel this week with little hope for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

    What led me to this view were conversations with three Palestinians who, given their circumstances, would be likely to say things that would give one optimism. They were successful...

  • Iran is mankind’s enemy

    January 28, 2015 | 11:21 am

    Iran today is America’s greatest enemy, Israel’s greatest enemy, the Jewish people’s greatest enemy and the greatest enemy of moral civilization.

    There is, apparently, no evil that the Iranian Islamic regime will not engage in to further its ends. 

    It is one of the only...

  • The Paris rally:  Three questions

    January 14, 2015 | 2:19 pm

    It was a very good thing that millions of French citizens and leaders from around the world gathered in Paris on Jan. 11 to declare “war” on what French President Francois Hollande called “radical Islam.”

    I’d like to pose a few questions, nevertheless.

    Why didn’t the American...

  • What Chabad needs to do now

    December 30, 2014 | 9:53 am

    It is evident to most Jews who care about the Jewish future that, individual exceptions in every movement notwithstanding, the one successful movement in contemporary Jewish life is Chabad.
    So, then, what is Chabad to do now?
    I ask this question because Chabad is...
  • Jews devoted to hurting Jews

    December 10, 2014 | 2:43 pm

    We Jews produce many wonderful people. We also produce a uniquely large number of people who devote their lives to hurting their own people. 

    The Jewish communists in the Soviet Union who helped the state oppress Jews and suppress Judaism are a well-known example. But in our...

  • Poverty causes crime?

    November 12, 2014 | 9:43 am

    One of the first clues that this Columbia-educated, liberal, Democrat, New York Jew had that there was something wrong at the heart of progressive/left-wing thought was when I read and was taught over and over that “poverty causes crime.”

    I knew from the first that this was...

  • Why is criticism of Islam forbidden?

    October 29, 2014 | 10:21 am

    There is apparently no amount of mass murder, no number of innocents tortured or women raped, no amount of female degradation, no number of people enslaved, no number of Christians expelled from or murdered in the Middle East, no amount of Nazi-like Jew-hatred in its societies, no...

  • Why do Jews oppose wars against evil?

    October 14, 2014 | 10:31 am

    One of the deepest disappointments in my life has been Jews’ opposition to wars against evil. I had always assumed that, as the victims of so much evil throughout history, and as heirs to the great moral teachings of the Bible and Judaism, Jews, of all people, would support...

  • When Jews are bigoted against Conservative Christians

    October 1, 2014 | 10:11 am

    Over the last 20 years, I have probably spent as much time with Evangelical Christians as with fellow Jews — in private settings, speaking at churches, on listener cruises, in my home and in their homes.

    I have come to admire and in many cases love these people. 


  • On the death of my father

    September 3, 2014 | 10:47 am

    My father, Max Prager, died two weeks ago. 

    Here, then, are some thoughts on the death of a parent.

    1. Longevity

    Parents who live long are very lucky. They are lucky not only for their longevity, and not only because they get to see their children grow into adulthood, and not...

  • Cruz, Bardem: Moral idiots

    August 6, 2014 | 11:58 am

    About 10 days ago, Penelope Cruz and her husband, Javier Bardem, signed a public letter in Spain along with prominent Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and other Spanish directors and actors accusing Israel of “genocide” and “extermination.”

    Some excerpts (unofficial translation...

  • Why do people hate Israel?

    July 23, 2014 | 11:14 am

    We live in a bad world.

    There is nothing new about that. The world has been pretty bad since its inception. That’s why God destroyed it and started all over again (with little to show for the new experiment, one might add).

    From a moral perspective, look at the world since...

  • When Jews murder

    July 9, 2014 | 9:45 am

    With the announcement that six Jews were arrested in the murder of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian, it is difficult to describe the sense of despondence that I (and I presume nearly all Jews) feel. Most Jews have a sense that certain things are truly foreign...

  • L.A. mayor and America’s decline

    June 24, 2014 | 2:51 pm

    Last week, during the official celebration of the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told a jammed Staples Center that “there are two long-standing rules for politicians. … They say never, ever be pictured with a drink in your hand, and never swear....

  • Is kosher ethical?

    June 11, 2014 | 9:28 am

    Almost 40 years ago I spoke about “The Case for Judaism”  to members of the tiny Jewish community of Moncton, in New Brunswick, Canada. It was a speech I had given many times before and would give hundreds of times more. In it, I described the ethical preoccupation of Judaism,...

  • Want to do bad?

    May 28, 2014 | 10:23 am

    Judaism has a sophisticated view of human nature. It unambiguously asserts that we are not born good, but at the same time holds that human beings have, on the one hand, a conscience and a will to do good — the yetzer hatov, and, on the other hand, an urge to do bad — the yetzer...

  • U.S. Jews vs. U.S. Christianity

    May 14, 2014 | 9:25 am

    It’s not something that Americans mention in public. And it may not even be something many note in private. But a Jew writing in a Jewish journal ought to point out a fact that, no matter how much ignored, is significant.

    On May 5, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in “Town of...

  • Crushing dissent in America

    April 30, 2014 | 10:11 am

    Something unprecedented in American history is taking place. Debate on almost every subject of significance is being choked off. People who only six years ago had “Dissent Is Patriotic” stickers affixed to their bumpers are now crushing dissent.

    This is a generalization with...

  • Did the Exodus happen?

    April 16, 2014 | 1:18 pm

    With Passover here, it is a propitious time to address the central issue of the holiday: the Exodus. Specifically, did the Exodus happen?

    My friend Rabbi David Wolpe announced some years ago that it didn’t matter whether the Exodus occurred. In his words, writing three years...

  • Global warming revisited

    April 2, 2014 | 12:02 pm

    In 2011, I wrote about global warming in this column (Part 1 / Part 2). With the just-released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, it is worth revisiting the topic. I said then that there were scientifically legitimate reasons to be skeptical about the global...

  • Why evil committed in the name of God is worse

    March 19, 2014 | 2:06 pm

    If I could ask one question of a religious person — of any faith — it would be, “What is the worst sin in your religion?”

    The answer to this question can often tell you more than that of any other question about that person’s religion, or at least about that person’s own...

  • Egalitarian marriages and sex

    February 20, 2014 | 2:21 pm

    Two weeks ago, the New York Times Magazine published a 6,000-word article, “Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?” by Los Angeles-based psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb. It challenges some of the most preciously held ideas of feminism and progressivism.

    In a nutshell, her...

  • Yair’s Norwegian girlfriend

    February 5, 2014 | 11:24 am

    It has been widely reported that the son of the Israeli prime minister, 23-year-old Yair Netanyahu, has been dating a non-Jewish Norwegian woman. Sandra Leikanger, 25, and Yair are both students at Israel’s elite Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

    The news has created a stir...

  • What is nachas?

    January 22, 2014 | 2:03 pm

    The traditional wish that Jews offer fellow Jews is “May you have nachas from your children.” Nachas is understood to be pride and joy. And for most Jews, pride and joy from their children is the greatest blessing in life.

    Let me give an example.

    Having been in public life for...

  • UCLA’s further deterioration

    January 8, 2014 | 3:02 pm

    The intellectual and moral decline of American universities in the last 40 years is one of the saddest chapters in modern American history. 

    Take UCLA, long renowned for its excellence in the humanities as well as in the natural sciences (which do remain largely excellent).


  • Are Jewish neighborhoods a good thing?

    December 18, 2013 | 4:34 pm

    I would like to offer a view on Jewish neighborhoods that is so contrary to accepted wisdom that I can only ask that people read this column with as open a mind as possible.

    On balance, after a lifetime of thought, I don’t think that Jewish neighborhoods are always a good thing...

  • Educated women and children

    December 4, 2013 | 4:12 pm

    On the Jewish Web site The Tablet, Michelle Goldberg, a senior contributing editor to The Nation, recently wrote: “In the United States, women tend to have fewer children the more education they have — those with advanced degrees have only 1.67 children each. Jewish women are...

  • George W. Bush and Jews for Jesus

    November 20, 2013 | 3:05 pm

    Former President George W. Bush spoke for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (MJBI) this past week, and this has led to a good deal of writing on Jews for Jesus and the ex-president’s address.

    Some observations:

    • Like nearly every other Jew, I was saddened by the news. The...

  • No faith, no Jewish future

    November 6, 2013 | 1:27 pm

    In my last column, I suggested a number of reasons for the rise of Orthodox Judaism and the decline in membership among non-Orthodox denominations. 

    In this column, I would like to discuss one important reason that often goes unnoted.

    That reason is faith — not only faith in...

  • Why Orthodoxy is growing

    October 23, 2013 | 11:58 am

    As almost every Jew knows by now, according to major reports on American Jewry — such as the most recent and most highly regarded Pew report — Orthodoxy is growing, while Conservative and Reform Judaism are shrinking. 

    Before presenting my explanations, I think it important to...

  • Marry young

    October 9, 2013 | 1:22 pm

    I know the arguments that people give for delaying marriage: 

    “I’m not ready.”

    “I need to be financially secure first.”

    “Right now, I’m preoccupied with ____” (fill in the blank).

    “To tell you the truth, I’m having too much fun to settle down.” (This argument is usually...

  • Family problems? Turn to Genesis

    September 24, 2013 | 10:59 am

    If you have family problems, there is a book that can provide a good deal of consolation. That book, you might be surprised to learn, is the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Torah.

    Genesis makes it abundantly clear that you are not alone, that what we now call dysfunctional...

  • Syria, Obama and America

    September 11, 2013 | 2:26 pm

    Ten thoughts on the current crisis:

    1. American red lines cannot be crossed.

    President Barack Obama has said that “Assad must go” and that the use of chemical weapons would constitute, in America’s eyes, a “red line.” If proclamations of an American president to other countries...

  • High-interest Holy Days

    August 28, 2013 | 2:31 pm

    This will be the sixth consecutive year that I lead Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. I would like to revisit lessons I have learned in retaining attendees’ interest in the service and even in keeping hundreds of them in synagogue all day on Yom Kippur.

    My agenda here is to...

  • Orthodoxy and ethics

    August 14, 2013 | 10:56 am

    One of the most prominent Orthodox rabbis of our time, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of Efrat, related the following story in the July 12-18 issue of the International Jerusalem Post:

    “Let me tell you a true incident which for me is a metaphor of our times. A young man...

  • College and your child

    July 31, 2013 | 1:00 pm

    The following are some of the basic postulates about America, religion, society, morality, the arts and Israel that are taught at almost every American university.


    • The United States is no better than any other country, and in some important ways it is worse than...

  • Do men and women matter?

    July 17, 2013 | 11:48 am

    Most Americans do not realize that, as large as the issue of same-sex marriage is (and it is very large), there is an even larger issue at stake in the same-sex marriage debate.

    That issue is whether gender matters: Do male and female, man and woman, matter?

    In the brief span...

  • A principal’s speech

    July 2, 2013 | 11:00 am

    Three years ago, I wrote a version of this column. Because it went viral — often listing me as the high school principal who actually gave this speech! — I am revising it and publishing it here. I believe that if every school principal gave this speech, America would be a better...

  • The Israeli.com and me

    June 19, 2013 | 12:01 pm

    For the amusement of readers and to publicize what is probably the most absurd treatment by a retailer I have ever encountered — I am publishing the e-mail dialogue (to the extent that “dialogue” is the apt term) with an Israeli Web site from which I recently purchased a tallit. 

  • California: the left’s laboratory

    June 6, 2013 | 12:02 pm

    Our state of California has become a laboratory. The progressive party, the Democrats, holds every statewide office, from governor on down, and they hold super-majorities in both houses of the state legislature. Even if every Republican legislator in Sacramento votes against a...

  • Honor trumps love

    May 22, 2013 | 12:16 pm

    Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is a good time to return again to the fifth of the Ten Commandments, “Honor your father and your mother.”

    The Ten Commandments are the most important demands God makes upon the Jews (and upon members of any religion based on the Jewish...

  • Jews and Christians

    May 8, 2013 | 12:29 pm

    I have spent much of my adult life working to bring Jews and Christians together. In particular, I have tried to explain to fellow Jews that traditional Christians are our best friends in the world today. 

    Moreover, I believe that America’s founders, virtually every one a...

  • Who’ll support Israel?

    April 24, 2013 | 11:09 am

    “Israel’s great challenge: gun-hating, gay-backing, grass-smoking young Americans.” 

    That was the title of an article published on April 5 in Haaretz, Israel’s most prestigious newspaper, and — this is relevant here — the most left-wing of Israel’s prominent papers. The author is...

  • Lessons of the Holocaust

    April 10, 2013 | 3:07 pm

    This week, Jews around the world observed Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day ought to be universally observed, because the lessons of the Holocaust are universal. Here are some of them:

    1. The Jews are the world’s canary in the mine.

    When Jews are murdered, it is a warning to...

  • Time to end ‘Top Rabbis’ list

    March 28, 2013 | 10:44 am

    Kudos to the Jewish Journal and writer Danielle Berrin for a fair and balanced article about Newsweek magazine’s “America’s Top 50 Rabbis” list. Given the prominence of Los Angeles rabbis at the top of the list, one might have expected the article to cheerlead on its behalf. But...

  • Secularism: Great for government, destructive to everything else

    March 14, 2013 | 5:01 am

    Most non-Orthodox Jews venerate secularism. Virtually every movement and organization advancing secularism in the United States has been founded or led by Jews, and Jews are disproportionately active in these movements.

    The initials ACLU are loved and respected by most American...

  • Self Esteem

    February 27, 2013 | 2:55 pm

    I will use my old friend Richard Gunther’s accompanying letter as a jumping-off point for a discussion of the self-esteem movement.

    First to some specifics in his letter, which can be read in full on page 7.

    “True self-esteem comes from a personal recognition of a job well done...

  • Judaism’s greatest lesson: Behavior matters most

    February 13, 2013 | 8:29 am

    If I were asked to identify the greatest Jewish teaching, the most important lesson to be learned from all of Judaism, I would argue that, aside from ethical monotheism, it is that behavior matters more than anything else, and certainly more than feelings.

    As the Talmud tells us,...

  • I found God at Columbia

    January 30, 2013 | 2:49 pm

    Not many people today can say that they found God or religion at college or graduate school. Most universities, after all, are thoroughly secular institutions that either ignore or disparage belief in God.

    Yet, one day, when I was a graduate student in international affairs at...

  • Michael Tolkin: A new low

    January 16, 2013 | 11:45 am

    As I explained — yet again — in my last column, I made the case in my original column, “Why Is Murder Wrong?” “that if there is no God who declares murder wrong, murder is not, in fact, wrong. While human beings can believe that murder is wrong, without God, right and wrong are our...

  • Is murder wrong?: Progressive dialogue

    January 2, 2013 | 3:02 pm

    In my last column, I made the case that if there is no God who declares murder wrong, murder is not, in fact, wrong. While human beings can believe that murder is wrong, without God, right and wrong are our moral opinions, not moral facts.

    This is so basic and so logically...

  • Why is murder wrong?

    December 12, 2012 | 11:21 am

    I take it as a given that every reader of this journal believes that murder is wrong. (By murder, I mean the immoral taking of a human life — not killing in defense of self or others; not a just war of defense; and not taking animal life.)

    But I don’t believe that all readers of...

  • The Age of Feelings

    November 28, 2012 | 10:52 am

    In the Pacific Coast waters off the Northern California city of Eureka on Nov. 10, a mother, a father and their teenage son all died.

    It was not a boating accident or a shark attack. 

    They died because at least one of them tried to save the family dog, which had been carried...

  • Jews and abortion

    November 14, 2012 | 3:43 pm

    One of the most frequent questions Christians ask me as a Jew is, “Why aren’t Jews committed to protecting the unborn?”

    The question is not asked in anger. The questioners are truly confused. Christians think of Jews as the people who brought the greatest value system into the...

  • A Jew tours for Mitt Romney

    November 1, 2012 | 2:28 pm

    I spent last week speaking to thousands of Romney supporters in four “battleground” states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Virginia. I traveled with my Salem Radio Network colleagues Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved and the actor Jon Voight, one of the few Hollywood stars who is a...

  • The American election and Israel

    October 17, 2012 | 2:00 pm

    Americans who care deeply about Israel have to make two decisions regarding the upcoming election.

    The first decision is whether a candidate’s or a party’s level of support for Israel should be the most important consideration in determining their vote.

    If the answer is in the...

  • Who will live, who will die?

    September 19, 2012 | 11:56 am

    You don’t have to be a Jewish scholar to note a glaring difference between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Jan. 1, the secular New Year.

    The former is solemn while the latter is boisterous. And one reason for Rosh Hashanah’s solemnity is the central question that it...

  • Everything is easier than doing good

    September 5, 2012 | 12:05 pm

    Some thoughts for Rosh Hashanah:

    If we took a vote on what trait we human beings most value, goodness would undoubtedly win. Certainly goodness is the trait that we most want everyone else to possess.

    But if we say we value goodness above everything else — and surely Judaism...

  • Lying for the cause

    August 22, 2012 | 5:27 pm

    There are many admirable values. The list includes, of course, goodness, integrity and compassion.

    But there is one value without which civilization cannot survive, and without which evil is inevitable: truth.

    I cannot think of a 20th-century evil not predicated on lies. It was...

  • Jews and guns

    August 8, 2012 | 11:33 am

    It is a given among liberal and progressive Jews that gun ownership among the general population is a bad thing. The ideal is near-universal disarmament with only a handful of individual exceptions and, of course, the police.

    The majority of Americans have the opposite view. They...

  • Q&A with the 'Ground Zero' Imam

    July 24, 2012 | 4:48 pm

    On July 20, Jewish Journal columnist Dennis Prager conducted a lengthy interview on his radio show with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, author of “What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America,” who is best known for his plans to build an Islamic community center, including a...

  • This past month in the Muslim world

    July 11, 2012 | 4:14 pm

    Some news items from the Islamic world in the past month:


    June 18 (CNN): “A militant Islamist group [Boko Haram, which means “Western culture is forbidden”] claimed responsibility Monday for bombings the day before that the Nigerian Red Cross said left 50 people dead...

  • Why I voted against the tobacco tax

    June 27, 2012 | 2:38 pm

    A few weeks ago, California voters narrowly rejected another tax increase not only on cigarettes, but also on those mass murderers — cigar and pipe smokers. As expected, proponents of Proposition 29 blame its defeat on all the money tobacco companies spent on ads against the...

  • Is there a heaven and a hell?

    June 15, 2012 | 5:31 pm

    When it comes to the subject of the existence of heaven and hell, most contemporary Jews – meaning Jews who have graduated college, who are essentially secular and who consider themselves progressive – know exactly where they stand: There is no heaven, and there is no hell.


  • Israel means ‘struggle with God’

    May 30, 2012 | 12:43 pm

    Years ago, a Muslim woman called my radio show and asked me why I was not a Muslim. She asked this question with complete sincerity, and I answered her with equal sincerity.

    The name of her religion, I told her, is Islam, which in Arabic means submission (to God). The name of the...

  • Happiness is a moral obligation

    May 15, 2012 | 9:48 pm

    Readers who think I am preoccupied with political issues may find it interesting to learn that I lecture on the subject of happiness more than any other single topic. And, every Friday for the past 12 years, I have devoted an hour of my radio show to this subject.

    I do so because I...

  • A man and a book

    April 18, 2012 | 12:35 pm

    Next Tuesday, the culmination of one man’s life and thought will be published.

    I am that man. And the book is “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph” (HarperCollins).

    As this is my first book in 12 years, I hope readers will allow me this...

  • Tamara doesn’t want to date a Republican!

    April 4, 2012 | 1:32 pm

    Two weeks ago, Jewish Journal blogger Tamara Shayne Kagel wrote a piece titled, “I Don’t Want to Date a Republican!

    Apparently, a nightmare of hers has been realized — she has fallen in love with a Republican. One can truly apply the famous Yiddish dictum here: “Man plans...

  • Opinion: Our golden calf

    March 7, 2012 | 6:05 pm

    How would most American Jews react to the following historical assessment by a noted Yiddish scholar, professor Gennady Estraikh of New York University?

    “It is hardly an overstatement to define Yiddish literature of the 1920s as the most pro-Soviet literature in the world.”


  • Can a believer in God believe in luck?

    February 22, 2012 | 3:04 pm

    Perhaps the most sobering realization I have come to in the second half of my life is the role of luck in life.

    I have always wanted to believe otherwise. And I suspect that most people want to believe otherwise. For that reason, many, perhaps most, religious people believe that God...

  • Opinion: Can Halachah ever be wrong?

    January 11, 2012 | 5:49 pm

    Many years ago, one of the most respected Orthodox rabbis of our generation, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the chief rabbi of Efrat, told me the following story — and, of course gave me permission to tell it in his name.

    He was still living in the United States and was looking for a rosh...

  • Opinion: In defense of acquiring material things

    December 22, 2011 | 11:00 am

    Every year around Christmas and Chanukah time, writers, commentators, pundits and many rabbis, priests and ministers exhort Americans against spending money on things. We are too materialistic, we are told every year. Happiness, not to mention a meaningful life, depends on our having...

  • Climate change: A reasoned skeptic’s response

    December 7, 2011 | 5:30 pm

    Read Joey Green’s article: Is Dennis the Menace?

    In my two columns (part 1 / part 2) on why thoughtful people might be skeptical about the apocalyptic global warming/climate change scenario, I addressed the issue with a seriousness and respect that Joey Green does not exhibit in his...

  • Opinion: Global warming: Part 2

    November 9, 2011 | 4:56 pm

    This is how I began Part 1 of this column, two weeks ago:

    “In the belief that there are people on the left who are more interested in understanding the right rather than in simply dismissing its decency, I would like to briefly explain why many thoughtful people are skeptical of...

  • Man-made global warming: Why many of us are skeptical [Part 1]

    October 26, 2011 | 7:01 pm

    Read part 2 here.

    In the belief that there are people on the left who are more interested in understanding the right rather than in simply dismissing its decency, I would like to briefly explain why many thoughtful people are skeptical of the claims made on behalf of global...

  • Opinion: Why is it so hard to become a better person?

    October 12, 2011 | 3:45 pm

    The following is a summary of the Rosh Hashanah sermon I gave this year.

    The purpose of the High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) is moral introspection: Every year, Jews meditate on the issue of becoming a better person.

    But how many of us do become better people the next...

  • Opinion: For a Happy New Year, here’s what to do

    September 28, 2011 | 12:14 pm

    Jews get to celebrate the new year twice a year — on Rosh Hashanah and on Jan. 1. But there are differences between the two holidays: Rosh Hashanah is used more for introspection, and New Year’s is more a time for celebration and partying.

    There are also differences in terms of...

  • Opinion: When rabbis politicize the High Holy Days

    September 14, 2011 | 12:48 pm

    Every year, Jewish listeners to my radio show write to me from around the country about their rabbi using the High Holy Days to deliver political sermons.

    Invariably, there are two constants: The rabbi is non-Orthodox, and the sermons are left wing.

    It should go without saying —...

  • Opinion: Still the only solution to the world’s problems

    August 17, 2011 | 12:24 pm

    There is only one solution to the world’s problems, only one prescription for producing a near-heaven on earth.

    It is 3,000 years old.

    And it is known as the Ten Commandments.

    Properly understood and applied, the Ten Commandments is really all humanity needs to make a beautiful...

  • Dennis Prager: First fight yourself, then society

    August 2, 2011 | 6:14 pm

    The Case for the Torah: Part I / Part II / Part III / Part IV / Part V

    Some 20 years ago, I was putting my older son, then about 8 years old, to bed and asked him what he learned that day in school. Normally he would answer, as boys usually do, “Nothing.” But that night, he had...

  • Dennis Prager: Adults who do not speak to a parent

    July 19, 2011 | 5:40 pm

    For two decades I have been on a crusade: to convince adults who have cut off all communication with a parent to re-establish contact.

    Through my radio show, which deals as much with personal issues as with politics, I became aware of something that, as a parent, I view as a...

  • Maybe San Francisco will wake jews up

    July 5, 2011 | 6:40 pm

    If San Francisco succeeds in banning circumcision, some good may come of it.

    Let me explain. I am a passionate advocate of Jewish ritual circumcision — the ritual circumcision of 8-day-old Jewish boys. I am even an advocate of circumcision generally. I was recently in Africa —...

  • Liberalism and the decline of a society’s character

    June 21, 2011 | 5:30 pm

    While most American Jews and other liberals believe in the intrinsic goodness and moral superiority of liberal policies, powerful arguments can be made that liberal policies actually diminish a society’s moral character. Many individual liberals are wonderful people, but the...

  • My Jewish Credo

    June 7, 2011 | 6:37 pm

    About 20 years ago, a Jewish publication in Australia invited me to make a list of my basic Jewish beliefs. I found the exercise much more difficult and much more significant than I had anticipated. I have come to believe that all those who consider themselves thoughtful individuals...

  • Can We Celebrate the Death of Evil People?

    May 24, 2011 | 5:59 pm

    We live in a time very different from any in the past.

    As a rule, little changes in basic human responses. For example, it is probably fair to say that throughout human history, just about all decent people have celebrated the death of those human beings understood to be truly...

  • Dancing with the Rabbis?

    April 12, 2011 | 6:11 pm

    On April 3, under the auspices of the American Jewish University, in its Gindi Auditorium, five Los Angeles rabbis competed with one another in an evening titled “Dancing With the Rabbis.” As reported in this newspaper, the sellout crowd loved the evening.

    May I respectfully...

  • What about innocents who are executed?

    March 30, 2011 | 11:11 am

    I devoted my last column to the Torah’s insistence on taking the life of murderers. I noted that this was the only law in all five books of the Torah; that, unlike every other time the Torah calls for capital punishment, only with regard to murder is the death penalty declared a...

  • Murderers should die

    March 15, 2011 | 6:41 pm

    The Case for the Torah: Part I / Part II / Part III / Part IV / Part V

    Last week, Rhode Island announced that it will release Michael Woodmansee from prison this August, 12 years early, because of “good conduct.” He will have served 28 years of his 40-year sentence.

    His crime?...

  • A Jew visits Vietnam

    February 16, 2011 | 12:44 pm

    I spent last week in Vietnam and Cambodia. Visiting these two long-suffering countries made me revisit some of the basic beliefs that have shaped my life.

    The most important of these is communism. Nothing has shaped my political and social outlook as communism has: its mind-boggling...

  • No God, no moral society

    February 2, 2011 | 1:18 pm

    The Case for the Torah: Part I / Part II / Part III / Part IV / Part V

    Every reader of this column — no matter how alienated from religion — is familiar with the adage, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Even the United Nations issued a postage stamp with these words chiseled into...

  • Honor your father and mother

    January 19, 2011 | 3:20 pm

    The Case for the Torah: Part I / Part II / Part III / Part IV / Part V

    To make the case for the Torah, I can think of no better verse with which to begin than the fifth of the Ten Commandments: “Honor your father and your mother so that your days be lengthened on the land that I...

  • The Case for the Torah

    January 5, 2011 | 1:53 pm

    The Case for the Torah: Part I / Part II / Part III / Part IV / Part V

    With this first column of the year, I have decided to devote a number of my columns this year to making the case for the Torah.

    If I may be personal for a moment, I will admit that, like most people, as I...

  • A Yeshiva boy and Christmas

    December 15, 2010 | 10:24 am

    When I was 20, I spent my junior year in college in England. When classes let out for the last two weeks of December, I traveled to Morocco, where something life-changing occurred.

    What happened was that I felt a longing, even an emptiness, I had never before experienced. Something...

  • Ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas and secular universities

    December 1, 2010 | 12:59 pm

    The Wall Street Journal recently published a column about ultra-Orthodox (Charedi) Jews in Israel who do not work for a living. Sixty-five percent of ultra-Orthodox men ages 35-54 do not go to work. Instead, they study Torah while demanding increasing amounts of money from the taxes...

  • I wish settlements were the issue

    November 16, 2010 | 10:17 pm

    According to every liberal editorial page in America (and virtually every editorial page abroad), according to President Obama, the United Nations and every other liberal institution, and according to Jews on the left, the major impediment to peace in the Middle East is Israel’s...

  • Human nature, Judaism and liberals: response to my critics

    November 3, 2010 | 5:04 pm

    If my mail is any indication, I suspect I aroused considerably more anger among Jews by arguing that man is not basically good (and that the belief in man’s innate goodness is neither rational nor Jewish) than I would have had I argued that there is no God.

    If my suspicion is...

  • Are people basically good?

    October 20, 2010 | 10:55 am

    Ask most Jews if they believe that people are basically good and you are likely to get a positive response.

    That is why if Jews are familiar

    with anything from the diary of Anne Frank, the most widely read book to come out of the Holocaust, it is her comment that “in spite of...

  • Jews, Christians, Muslims and self-criticism

    October 6, 2010 | 10:21 am

    One of the most brilliant individuals writing today, a man who goes by the pen name of Ibn Warraq, writes in his book “Defending the West” that a unique aspect of the West has been its self-criticism.

    As he points out, it is literally unique. It has been found nowhere else...

  • A response: The case against the Islamic center

    September 22, 2010 | 1:21 pm

    Two weeks ago, The Jewish Journal published a column by Dennis Prager titled “A Question for ‘Progressive’ Jews Who Support the Ground Zero Mosque.” In it, he argued that there are similarities between plans to build an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in Manhattan...

  • A question for ‘progressive’ Jews who support the Ground Zero mosque

    September 8, 2010 | 10:50 am

    Jews who call themselves “progressive” and are overwhelmingly in favor of building a $100 million Islamic center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero need to explain why, 26 years ago, “progressive” Jews were just as adamant in opposing the Catholic convent that was built...

  • Why has America treated Jews so well?

    August 24, 2010 | 11:40 pm

    If there is anything that religious and secular Jews, liberal and conservative Jews, can agree on, it is that we live in a country that has treated Jews better than any other in which Jews have lived.

    This is not only true for American Jews, but for embattled Jews abroad and for...

  • Siddur Baseball

    August 10, 2010 | 11:05 pm

    When I was a kid in yeshiva, we played a game during davening (prayer services) called siddur (prayer book) baseball. We mostly played this at Orthodox summer camp during Shabbat services — because it was baseball season, and because Shabbat services were much longer than the daily...

  • How Open-Minded Are Jewish Liberals?

    July 27, 2010 | 6:48 pm

    Jewish liberals, like other liberals, believe that there are three positive traits that describe liberals far more accurately than they describe conservatives — compassionate, intellectual and open-minded.

    Though I am a Jewish conservative, I don’t believe that either side has...

  • Lessons for the Rest of Us From the Success of Chabad

    July 13, 2010 | 5:25 pm

    Most Jews, whether Orthodox, non-Orthodox or secular, acknowledge that Chabad is a uniquely successful Jewish enterprise.

    Like many others, I am convinced that if mankind ever settles another planet, some Chabad couple will surely be among the first settlers. Having visited Chabad...

  • Musical Instruments on Shabbat?

    June 30, 2010 | 12:30 am

    My 15 years in yeshiva and a lifetime of work with Orthodox Jews and Orthodox organizations have given me an immense respect for Orthodoxy. It is impossible to imagine Jewish life without the Orthodox, their seriousness about Judaism, and their commitment to learning and practice.

  • An Open Letter to Israel’s Jews

    June 15, 2010 | 4:37 pm

    Anyone who has the chutzpah to write a public letter to 6 million people needs to explain where he is coming from, so permit me to briefly identify myself.

    I am an American Jew — a proud American and a proud Jew. As I told an audience of Israeli Americans, I have two fathers —...

  • Rabbi Clarifies Left’s Beliefs

    June 2, 2010 | 1:16 am

    As my radio show listeners across the country have heard innumerable times, a guiding principal of my show is that I prefer clarity to agreement. Instead of trying to out-argue their ideological adversaries, I suggest to my listeners that they should strive for clarity about where...

  • A Letter to young Jews

    May 18, 2010 | 7:36 pm

    There is a good chance that being a Jew means little or nothing to you. That would make a great deal of sense because few Jews have been raised to take Judaism seriously. This is not a judgment on your parents. Most of them weren’t raised that way either. It is just a fact.

  • When Jews on the Left See Americans on the Right as Nazis

    May 4, 2010 | 6:45 pm

    “There should be absolutely no division when it comes to condemning the use of the Holocaust and Holocaust imagery for domestic political purposes.”
    — ADL Statement

    It is becoming increasingly common for Jews on the Left to depict Americans on the Right as Nazis and to compare...

  • A Jewish Value That Has Influenced My Radio Show

    April 20, 2010 | 7:16 pm

    In 28 years as a radio talk-show host, I have not consciously humiliated a single person — whether a caller to my show or a public figure.

    And I give the credit to Judaism.

    One of the best things that 14 years in yeshiva gave me was a keen appreciation of the sin of humiliating...

  • A response to a reader

    April 7, 2010 | 12:09 am

    Two of my favorite journals ever since I was in college have been Commentary and The New York Review of Books. The first is a major right-wing publication, the second a major left-wing one. Though on opposite sides of just about every issue, they both have a feature that should be...

  • Jews and Big Government

    March 24, 2010 | 2:29 am

    Why do most American Jews support the president’s and the Democratic Party’s health care plan?

    Ask most American Jews and they will tell you that it is a moral imperative, that it is a shame on the republic that 40 million Americans do not have health insurance.

    I take my...

  • Jews and God — a Troubled Relationship

    March 9, 2010 | 3:45 pm

    We Jews need to face a sad, even tragic, fact. Things are not going very well in the relationship between God and most Jews.

    All polling data agree that among Americans, Jews believe in God less than any other ethnicity or religion-based group. More Jews are agnostic, more Jews are...

  • Jews and the Afterlife

    February 23, 2010 | 9:41 pm

    Years ago, I attended a funeral officiated by a prominent Los Angeles Conservative rabbi. In his remarks at the grave site, he told the grieving family and friends of the deceased that Judaism does not affirm a belief in an afterlife, rather “we live on through our good works and...

  • Jews, College, Money and Nachas

    February 12, 2010 | 10:53 am

    Given these difficult economic times, I would like to make a suggestion that, if enacted, can save many readers $200,000 or more per child. Do not send your son or daughter to an expensive college.

    I understand that offering such advice to Jews is akin to suggesting to Christians...

  • Messengers Who Forgot Their Message

    January 29, 2010 | 2:42 pm

    For my first column as a contributing writer for The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, I thought I would share some thoughts on 40 years in Jewish life and introduce myself to readers through a brief, specifically Jewish, autobiography.

    I was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home in...

  • A Question for My Friend Alan Dershowitz

    January 28, 2009 | 12:00 pm

    Harvard Law professor Alan M. Dershowitz is that rare individual who is both a highly respected academic and well known to the general population.

    But in another regard he is even rarer. He regards himself as a man of the left, yet on one of the defining moral issues of our time,...

  • Seek the Convert

    May 20, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Shavuot is the holiday when we read The Book of Ruth, a story of a Moabite woman who left her people to join her mother-in-law, Naomi, and the Jewish people. Ruth was the ancestor of David, King of Israel. On this holiday, we celebrate the converts, as Ruth said, "Your people shall...

  • How Jews, Christians See Gibson’s Film

    November 6, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Early this past summer, Mel Gibson invited me to see "The Passion," his film on the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. The invitation was significant in that I was the first practicing Jew and active member of the American Jewish community to be invited.

    He did so because he believed,...

  • Prefer Your Teen to Smoke or to Cheat?

    July 24, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Decades of lecturing around America and of speaking with parents on my radio show have led me to an incredible conclusion: More American parents would be upset with their teenage children if they smoked a cigarette than if they cheated on a test.

    How has this come about? This is,...

  • A Libel That Holds No Truth

    April 3, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Some Americans apparently believe that we have gone to war with Iraq "because of the Jews." Having written a book explaining anti-Semitism ("Why the Jews?

    The Reason for Anti-Semitism," Simon & Schuster, 1983), all I can do is marvel at the durability of anti-Semitism and the...

  • A Libel That Holds No Truth

    March 20, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Some Americans apparently believe that we are going to war with Iraq "because of the Jews." Having written a book explaining anti-Semitism ("Why the Jews? The Reason for Anti-Semitism," Simon & Schuster, 1983), all I can do is marvel at the durability of anti-Semitism and the...

  • God vs. the Angels

    October 17, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    This past Saturday, something extraordinarily rare took place: My team, the Anaheim Angels, was positioned to win a post-season series -- against the New York Yankees no less. And my friend and radio colleague Hugh Hewitt, who could not use his seats (first row, near home plate),...

  • Hollywood’s Silence on Israel

    October 10, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Is there an issues that some Hollywood star -- director, producer, actor actress -- has not publicly commented on? It's hard to name one. Producer-director Rob Reiner has devoted years to imposing onerous taxes on poor people who smoke and to putting perhaps half of California's...

  • Faith in Exodus

    April 19, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    During Passover and on Good Friday the Los Angeles Times published a front-page article titled "Doubting the Story of Exodus." The timing was typical of the insensitivity often shown in mainstream media to religious Jews and Christians. It is unimaginable, for example, that any...

  • Defending Hillary

    July 20, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    I wish to defend Hillary Clinton against the charge of anti-Semitism. The charge emanates from her allegedly calling Paul Fray, the Jewish manager of husband Bill's failed 1974 Congressional campaign, a "Jew bastard."

    I do so as a practicing Jew; as an author of a book on...

  • Reform Needs Standards

    May 25, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    The Reform rabbis' recent resolution on same-gender officiation affirms two mutually contradictory actions: It supports any Reform rabbi who wishes to perform a same-sex ritual, including, though not so specified, marriage; and it supports any Reform rabbi who refuses to perform...

  • Opinon

    December 4, 1997 | 7:00 pm

    Imagine that it is 1940, and Great Britain is fighting Hitler's Nazi Germany almost alone. Imagine, further, that an American who loves both America and England and hates the Nazis works in American intelligence and has access to secret files concerning Germany that, for whatever...