Hillel at UCLA enjoys a good relationship with the local Chabad (“Sharing the Next Gen — Hillel and Chabad on Campus,” Oct. 25). The unconditional love they exhibit is indeed laudable, and it is true that Chabad’s free Friday night dinners influenced us to also offer our dinners for free
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 place.
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.
In a bizarre attack on diversity under the guise of defending “historical truth,” Dennis Prager denounced a music critic who once made the “mistake” of writing that Debussy, Bartok and Stravinsky were more important composers than Prager’s beloved Haydn and Handel (“CA: The Left’s Laboratory,” June 7). He seemingly fails to understand that the issue is a matter of opinion, not “historical truth.”
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.
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 the article was not only balanced; it probably left most readers with a negative view of the list.
Rabbi Marvin Hier blindly toes the Likud, right-wing line (“Palestinian’s Fantasy World,” Feb. 15).
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.
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.
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 moral opinions, not moral facts.”
Unlike many conversion stories, Michael Hudson’s does not begin with romantic love. Instead, it was inspired by a radio show.
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.)
In the eyes of many, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly was a masterful statement of the moral state of the world, not to mention the existential threat Iran poses to Israel.
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.
DDT had already lost much of its potency when it was banned in the United States (“Everything Is Easier Than Doing Good,” Sept. 7). It was used unsuccessfully in Africa to combat malaria-carrying mosquitos.
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 does -- why aren't there more good people? A big reason is that it is easier to value other things -- including, and especially, positive things -- more than goodness. So it's much easier to be just about anything rather than good. It’s easier to be religious than to be good.
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.
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 America,” who is best known for his plans to build an Islamic community center, including a mosque, near the World Trade Center in New York. What follows is the transcribed text of that interview.
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 proposition. Whenever a candidate or vote supported by progressives is defeated, the loss is attributed to money. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was not recalled?
As I was reading Dennis Prager’s new book, “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph,” I found myself increasingly frustrated. The words themselves didn’t bother me; rather, it was that silly contraption I was holding in my hands, what’s known as a Kindle.
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.
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.
Dennis Prager was given the opportunity to respond to a letter sent by a reader (Letters, April 27). I’d like to respond to his response. He asserts, “It was racists in the Democratic Party, not conservatives or Republicans, who blocked civil rights for blacks.” I’ve been a long-time listener and reader of Mr. Prager’s, and while I disagree with him on almost every issue, I have always respected his integrity. However, I must say that in this case, he is veering dangerously close to a purposeful distortion of the truth.
Hatch, Arlen Specter, Joe Biden, and especially Ginny and Clarence Thomas owe an apology to Anita Hill and to the American people.
Mr. Prager has stated he has had an obsession with fighting evil (“A Man and a Book,” April 20).
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).
I am devoting this column to responding to letters published in response to my last column, “Our Golden Calf” (March 9), because the topic is so important. If American Jewry’s embrace of leftism has not been a blessing for the Jews, then Jewish life is in trouble. On the other hand, if this embrace has been a blessing, Jewish life should be in great shape. It is hard to imagine, however, that many concerned Jews believe that American Jewish life is in great shape.
Dennis Prager’s latest jeremiad (“Our Golden Calf,” March 9) reaches new depths of absurdism. His tired and ludicrous mantra that “leftism” is the cause of humanity’s ills can’t be taken seriously. In one fell swoop, Prager places Stalinism, The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman and Reform Judaism’s Rabbi Eric Yoffie in the same basket.
How would most American Jews react to the following historical assessment by a noted Yiddish scholar, professor Gennady Estraikh of New York University?
Reading Jonah Lowenfeld’s “Can We Afford Kosher Lettuce?” (Jan. 27) was a déjà vu moment for my wife and me. We, too, bought the special worry-free, super-kosher romaine lettuce with the rabbinical seal of approval for our Pesach seder — and immediately came face to face with an enormous slug.
Jews are known for their intellect, and for legitimate reasons. The number of Jewish recipients of Nobel Prizes, for example, is wildly disproportionate to the Jewish proportion of the world’s population. Jews make up about one-fifth of 1 percent of the world’s population, yet they have received about 20 percent of the Nobel Prizes for chemistry, 41 percent for economics, 26 percent for physics and 27 percent for medicine.
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.
Dennis Prager reminds me of Harry Truman. No, not Harry Truman the president. I’m talking about the Harry Truman who, in 1980, refused to evacuate his Mount St. Helens Lodge, located less than two miles from the crater of the volcano threatening to erupt.
In my two columns 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 response. He apparently felt that sarcasm and put-downs comprise an adequate response. They don’t.
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 the claims made on behalf of global warming.”
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 warming. By “global warming” I am referring to the claims of Al Gore that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are causing dramatic increases in the Earth’s temperatures; increases that will devastate much of the Earth.
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.
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.
There is only one solution to the world’s problems, only one prescription for producing a near-heaven on earth.
Letters to the editor
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 an answer.
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.
Letters to the editor
If San Francisco succeeds in banning circumcision, some good may come of it.
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 policies they advocate tend to make a people worse.
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 should draw up a list of their fundamental beliefs — not only religious ones, but political, social and moral as well. At least as much as our psyche and our nature, our core beliefs are what make us who we are.
We live in a time very different from any in the past.
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.
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 value; and that God gave this law to Noah, not to the Jews alone, as a fundamental basis of civilization.
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? In 1975, Woodmansee tortured a neighbor’s 5-year-old son to death.
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 evil — more than 125 million civilians killed, countless others tortured and enslaved — and the amoral reactions to it among so many in the West. Unfortunately, this reaction also has a lot to do with 20th century Jewish life, which I will address shortly.
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 stone. I suspect, however, that many people who are familiar with this verse either have no idea where it’s from, or believe it’s from the New Testament. In fact, it is from the Torah, the very middle of it, as if to say, “this is what the Torah is all about.”
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 give you.” Proper understanding — and living by — this commandment is indispensable to making a good society. And to properly understand it, perhaps the most important point to be made is that the Torah commands that we honor our mother and father; it never commands us to love them.
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.
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.
“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