February 14, 2008
Chai Center rabbi explains ‘off the handle’ e-mails
(Page 3 - Previous Page)A graduate of Berkeley who has published research on breast cancer and Eastern medicine and now produces children's health and exercise videos, Campbell wrote to Schwartzie to follow up on a comment he had made about Jewish astrology. In her e-mail, she told Schwartzie that her father's father was Jewish, and she also asked the rabbi for "words of wisdom" about her Jewish ex-boyfriend, whom she had recently broken up with when she realized he wouldn't marry a non-Jew.
Schwartzie wrote back:
"A paternal grandpapy does not make U a Jew. Get used 2 it & get used 2 the program; its called the Reality of truth, even if it disturbs yr comfort zone. It is really low space morally & ethically of you 2 cast aspersions on Jews & their religion bcz they tell the truth. U R not a Jew even if tht means tht U lose yr boy toy," read part of his long tirade to her.
Campbell said the e-mails deeply disturbed her and embarrassed her Jewish friends, who assured her he did not represent Judaism. She wrote that to Schwartzie in answer to his e-mail.
"How dare U B so nervy as 2 criticize me when U r the brazen hussy slut chasing after Jewish men (even when they R Orthodox & you KNOW tht it is against their G-d & religion). Shame on U 4 yr disgusting unpaid whoring ways 2 try & take Jewish men away from Jewish women. Hitler murdered Jews & U R also trying 2 exterminate Jews."
Some question whether the rabbi's motives are bigoted, and, because they appear to be directed mostly at women, sexist.
Schwartzie, his son Mendel and Gary Wexler, insist the rabbi is not a bigot, pointing to Schwartzie's many close friends who are not Jewish, many of whom are married to Jewish friends and are welcome at his Shabbat table. (He believes there is little he can do once a Jew has intermarried, so he might as well give the Jewish partner some spiritual uplift.) His enmity, they say, is reserved solely for non-Jewish singles who are trying to steal Jewish men out of the pool that should be reserved for Jewish women.
But some of Schwartzie's words are aimed more broadly than the narrow target of potential intermarriers.
He freely refers to non-Jews as "shiksas" and "goys," which many find derogatory. To this reporter he referred to Jamie Katz as a "good-looking Jewpanese," and argued that non-Jewish women are more likely than Jewish women to be loose with men, which he sees as an unfair and immoral weapon in the battle for a Jewish husband.
In a 2005 e-mail berating Marlene Fineberg for bringing a non-Jewish friend to his seder, he wrote:
"What were U thinking when U brought a GOY 2 our Seder??? How did U dare 2 do such a reprehensible thing? It must B tht U R quite mentally unbalanced & not taking yr meds. And then U had the Chutzpa 2 try 2 pick up another Jew from our group while U were sitting there W/ a GOY (who was even of a dfrnt RACE ... )?" he wrote, then added. "U came dressed like a cheap SLUT W/a low cut dress, tht was in very poor taste etc."
In a later e-mail in their exchange, Fineberg, who recently authored a book of poetry, expressed shock that he would talk to her in such a way. He continued:
"There is no reason 2 wear so much make up tht U look like a painted horse from a circus, or a crack whore. Even the Mexican staff felt it was disgusting 4 a woman 2 attend a religious activity looking like a hooker." Campbell, in particular, sees a vendetta against women in these e-mails: "You cannot treat women like this anymore. It's kind of laughable in 2007," she said. "How is it that I get punished for being in a relationship? How is it that the man doesn't get any of the responsibility in this situation, that I am the whore and the slut?"
Mendel, however, said he considers his father a feminist, because he is the only one standing up for Jewish women.
"All the Jewish girls in town come crying to myself and to Schwartzie -- literally crying -- saying that none of the Jewish guys will go out with them. Schwartzie is the only one, time and again, going to bat for the Jewish girls in town," Mendel said.
And it is the life and death comments that Schwartzie made in his e-mails that he seems to most regret. To both Campbell and Katz, Schwartzie implied that if they were to marry Jews they would be risking physical ailments.
"The Jewish G-d writes in the Jewish Bible tht if a Non Jew 'Marries' a Jew then they R liable 2 elicit terrible punishments from G-d in Heaven - like CANCER. Look b4 U LEAP leap into the abyss !" he wrote to Campbell.
In his interview with The Journal, Schwartzie explained he was referring to the Kabbalistic idea that the physical and spiritual are connected, and that harm to the soul will lead to physical problems.
In an e-mail a few days later, Schwartzie reconsidered that point.
"I therefore do apologize tht in a moment of righteous indignaton @ the existence of yet another Jewish man's life being threatened and being personally attacked (something I was not prepared 4 since it almost Never happens), I got angry (the Talmud says tht if U get angry, U're gunu make a mistake; & i confess tht I did) & lost it & mentioned a terrible word tht I try never 2 pronounce -- 'Cancer.' For tht i am truly sorry."
Schwartzie and his supporters argue that his apologies -- and his nearly four decades of selfless and highly successful service to the Jewish community -- should outweigh his serious mistakes.