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December 5, 2014

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PAGE 14A i HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 5, 2014 Extreme views on Arabs don't inhibit Orthodox embrace of Rabbi Pruzansky Sliman Khader/Flash90 Thousands of Muslims praying at the AI-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, July 28, 2014. Rabbi Steven Pruzansky's deleted blog post suggested relocating the mosque. By Uriel lleilman which two or more terrorists originated would be razed and its residents deported. Arab terrorists would be executed, their bodies cremated and buried with dead pigs, their families deported and their homes destroyed or given to Jews. "There is a war for the land NEWYORK (JTA)- If Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Teaneck, N.J., had his way, Arab rioters and stone throwers would be shot with liveammunition. Arabs would be barred from the Temple Mount for six months. Any village from 354196278 167283594 928547163 712368945 489751326 53692481 7 293475681 841639752 67.5812439 Every day that you're outside, you're exposed to dangerous, but invisible, ultraviolet (UV) sunlight. Left unprotected, prolonged exposure to UV radiation can seriously damage the eye, leading te cataracts, skin cancer around the eyelid and other eye disorders. Protecting your eyes is important to maintaining eye health now and in the future. Shield your eyes (and your family's eyes) from harmful UV rays. Wear sunglasses with maximum UY protection. THEVISIONCOUNCIL of Israel that is being waged, and the Arabs who dwell in the land of Israel are the enemy in that war and must be vanquished," Pruzansky wrote in a Nov. 21 post on his personal biog. "Measures need to be imple- mented that encourage Arab emigration--the payment of stipends, compensation for property, etc. They must be made to feel that that they have no future in the land of Israel--no national future and no individual future," he wrote. Though Pruzansky re- moved the post, titled "Deal- ing with Savages," by Sunday, he told JTA it was because of threats that he would not specify--not because he had any regrets about the content. "I don't think I'm say- ing anything outlandish," Pruzansky told JTA in an interview. Who is Pruzansky and why should his views matter? He's a pulpit rabbi in America, not an Israeli politician. He does not have a national following. But he is the spiritual leader of the largest synagogue in Teaneck in what may well be the largest modern Orthodox suburban community in America. And the largely in- souciant response among the 800 member families at his shul, Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, to the stream of similar commentary offered by the rabbi over the years on his blog and from the pulpit is a sign of where political discourse is in some cor- ners of the American Jewish communityparticularly in Orthodox synagogues, where right-wing views on Israel tend to dominate. It's not clear how widely espoused viewpoints like Pruzansky's are, but they are certainly widely tolerated. A Bnai Yeshurun board member, Stan Steinreich, said Pruzansky--a one-time lawyer who was born in the Bronx and grew up in Monsey, N.Y.--enjoys broad support in the synagogue. Steinreich noted that anyone who finds him an objectionable spiritual leader has ample alternatives in Teaneck, atownship located a few miles from New York City that is filled with Orthodox shuls. Bnai Yeshurun is a self-de- scribed "mega shul".that's so big it holds six weekday morning services (seven on Shabbat) and is open from 5:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily. "Bnai Yeshurun is lucky to have a spiritual leader of Rabbi Pruzansky's intellect, of his depth," said Steinreich, who runs an eponymous commu- nications firm. "Along with that comes a broad spectrum of opinion, and there will always be some things--as I think with any rabbi--where you sometimes agree and other times disagree." Abraham Foxman, the national director of the An- ti-Defamation League, de- nounced Pruzansky's latest screed, published at the end of a week in which five Israelis were killed in a terrorist attack at a synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem. "This is outright racism and bigotry," Foxman told JTA. "We all feel the anguish and pain of the tragic loss, but our response isn't death and destruction. Coming from a rabbinic authority, it's just hideous." Foxman, who lives in Te- aneck, used to be a Bnai Yeshurun member but quit in 1995, a year into Pruzansky's tenure, to protest the rabbi's vitriol toward Israeli leaders. Not long before, Pruzansky had called the government of Camp From page 1A designed to be 'the gift that keeps giving' to all parties involved, especially the camp- ers." BunkConnect launched nationally at the end of No- vember with 75 participating camps, representing various movements and denomina- tions. The program is for first-time campers, basing eligibility on a family's ad- justed gross income, number of dependent children, and place of legal residency. For example, through Bunk- Connect, a family with two children living in Illinois with a maximum adjusted gross income of $145,000 can real- ize the dream of Jewish camp. Jewish day school families are welcome. BunkConnect is a program of Foundation for Jewish Campwith The Center for En- trepreneurial Jewish Philan- thropy (CEJP), made possible by generous funding from The "AVI CHAI Foundation, The Leader Family Foundation, The MichaelandAndrea Leven Family Foundation, and The Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Fund with additional sup- port from Eileen and Jerry Lieberman. "The philanthropists we advise challenged us to create an outcome-driven business approach that capitalizes on the enormous impact of Jew- ish camping," said Joseph Hy- man, president and founder, CEJP, "BunkConnect is a game-changing initiative that sets a standard for other philanthropists and organiza- tions to follow." For more information, or to determine eligibility, please visit Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin a Judenrat--the term used to describe the Jewish councils that did the Nazis' bidding during the Holocaust. Foxman said he finds the community's continued toler- ance of Pruzansky particu- larly troubling. "We're not immune from extremism on either side. The issue is: Is it tolerated, for how long and in what circles?" Fox- man said. "I certainly don't believe the majority of his congregation supports these views, but now that they're aware I would hope that they would care." Despite his controversial positions and writings, in- cluding strident criticism of President Obama, Pruzansky for years has enjoyed the embrace of the Orthodox establishment. He is an ex- ecutive committee member and a former vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, the main modern Orthodox rabbinic associa- tion. Pruzansky was slated to speak at next month's annual Orthodox Union convention, though he recently informed event organizers that he wouldn't be able to make it. And for seven years, Pru- zansky led the RCA's conver- sion beit din, or rabbinical court, in Bergen County, of which Teaneck is a part. He resigned last month to protest the RCA's appointing of a multigender committee to review its conversion pro- cess and suggest safeguards against possible abuses. The RCA's review was launched in the wake of the Oct. 14 arrest of Barry Freundel, a prominent Orthodox rabbi in Washington and the head of the conversion rabbinical court there, on charges that he spied on women in the mikvah. The RCA's review commit- tee "consists of six men and five women, bolstering the trend on the Orthodox left to create quasi-rabbinical func- tions for women," Pruzansky wrote in an Oct. 30 blog post announcing his resignation. "I do not wish to be coerced to apply standards and guide- lines that, to my thinking, may not comport with the re- quirements of Torah, and the makeup of the committee will almost ensure that outcome, however it is presented." Pruzansky then got into a public spat with The New York Jewish Week after the newspaper mischaracterized his role with the beit din and his association with Freun- del. Pruzansky wrote of The Jewish Week's editors: "They should apologize. But, I guess, to follow their way of report- ing, both The Jewish Week's publisher and Julius Streicher (Der Sturmer) published newspapers that dealt a lot with Jews. Same business, I suppose. That's bad company to be in." The Jewish Week whose publisher, Gary Rosenblatt, also lives in Teaneck--said in an editorial that it found the Per Sturmer comparison "outrageous, particularly coming from a leading com- munity rabbi and RCA execu- tive member. And to date, the lack of a public expression of remorse from the rabbi and the institutions he serves, or is affiliated with, speaks volumes." Meanwhile, in Israel, of- ficials across the political spectrum--from JusticeMin- ister Tzipi Livni of the centrist Hatnua party to Economy Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party--have spoken out force- fully in recent days against the kind of collective punishment that Pruzansky seems to advo- cate.And Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu last week weighed in with a statement saying, "There can be no dis- crimination against Israeli- Arabs. We must not generalize about an entire public due to a small and violent minority. The vast majority of Israel's Arab citizens are law abiding and whoever breaks the law, we will take determined and vigorous action against him." In his blog post, Pruzansky faulted Israelis for failing to recognize their enemies. "Israel has to act, espe- cially as the violence has spiraled out of control," he wrote. "At a certain point, the unrestrained behavior of unruly animals becomes the fault of the zookeeper, not the animals." Among other things, Pru- zansky suggested relocating the mosque atop the Temple Mount to Saudi Arabia and said Arab-Israelis who sup- port terror should forfeit their citizenship, though "those who wish to stay and be peaceful, acknowledging the sovereignty of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, are welcome to stay." In the interview with JTA, along with saying he didn't believe his views were out- landish, Pruzansky said his mosque suggestion was a bit tongue in cheek. "My words properly under- stood find a very receptive audience," he said. Within his own synagogue, Pruzansky said the response to his commentary on Is- rael, Arabs and the Obama administration's Middle East policies range from complete agreement to complete dis- agreement, with everything in between. "I think and write the truth as I know it," he said. "Some people accept it fully, some people accept parts and some reject it. I respect that." Suissa From page 5A ence should revolve around this singular, meta message: "Israel can save the Middle East." If the chutzpah behind the message drives the anti- Israel crowd nuts, so much the better. Let them dance to Israel's tune. Ultimately, the best way to respond to hypocritical groups like Students for Jus- tice in Palestine is to create a bigger group called "Students for Justice in the Middle East." On that playing field, Israel can only win. David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp.Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewish