Teaneck, NJ - Orthodox Shul Takes Rabbi To Task For Bashing Obama
Teaneck, NJ - Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck, New Jersey is home to some two thousand Modern Orthodox Jewish members. At its religious helm is Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, known for his right-wing opinions and his ability to seek out and stir up controversy, including referring to the Rabin administration as the “the Rabin Judenrat”.
Haaretz reports (http://bit.ly/T5WkJN) that Rabbi Pruzansky has once more raised the ire of many of his congregants with his blog post entitled “The Decline and Fall of the American Empire”, wherein he vilifies the “affirmative action president” and the president’s supporters following Mr. Obama’s re-election “nightmare”.
In his post, Rabbi Pruzansky wrote, “One might reasonably object that not every Obama supporter could be unintelligent. But they must then rationally explain how the agenda can be paid for, aside from racking up multi-trillion dollar deficits.”
He also spoke derisively about the immigrant community, attributing Mr. Obama’s win to those “primarily from the Third World” who “do not share the traditional American values that attracted immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries.” Rabbi Pruzansky noted that, “It is a different world, and a different America. Obama is part of that different America, knows it, and knows how to tap into it.”
In response to Rabbi Pruzansky’s post, the synagogue’s executive board has circulated a petition among its membership to call the “rabbi to order.” Bnai Yeshurun members said that while they appreciate that the rabbi is entitled to free speech, they feel strongly that his blog “insults and denigrates” community members. In fact, they say, the rabbi’s fanaticism has “driven away many members of his congregation over the years” and has led to the establishment of at least seven other synagogues in Teaneck – many of which are filled with the rabbi’s critics, including ADL National Director Abraham Foxman.
Rabbi Pruzansky was apparently unfazed by his congregation’s concerns. In an e-mail he replied, “Unfortunately, you are making a mountain out what is not even a molehill. A handful of members took personally what was a generic statement, in line with today’s American cultural norm of taking offense easily, repeatedly and quickly. In a shul of 2,000 people, this type of disagreement is not really uncommon. In fact, I’m surprised it is not more common. But I respect their right of free speech and am not in the least disturbed by their letter.”
In addition to his position as a shul rabbi, Rabbi Pruzansky serves as a trustee of the Rabbinical Council of America and on the board of the Beth Din of America where he also acts as a judge.
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