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Jewish Leaders Speak Out Against Pruzansky

Comments made on his personal website have generated a harsh condemnation

Zachary Schrieber
November 26, 2014
The Orthodox Union criticized statements similar to Pruzansky's.(Screenshot: Youtube; Times of Israel)
The Orthodox Union criticized statements similar to Pruzansky's.(Screenshot: Youtube; Times of Israel)

A number of prominent U.S. Orthodox Jewish figures condemned Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck N.J. since 1994, for remarks posted on his personal blog.

Pruzansky commented on the terrorist attacks in Har Nof last week, writing, among other things that “the slaughter of Jews is incentivized in Arab society,” that “‘President’ Abbas should be incarcerated as a war criminal” and “perhaps the day will come in the near future when the mosque [on the Temple Mount} and the dome can be uplifted intact and reset in Saudi Arabia, Syria or wherever it is wanted.”

Abraham Foxman, head of the ADL told the JTA that the post “is outright racism and bigotry.” He added that “coming from a rabbinic authority, it’s just hideous.”

The post was removed over the weekend. Pruzansky told the JTA that he had received threats related to the essay.

Pruzansky, who resigned from the Beit Din of the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County earlier this month, currently sits on the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. For years he has used his blog, which is separated from his activities as a synagogue Rabbi, to vehemently speak out against President Obama and voice his strongly opinionated comments on world events. On occasion, he has also used it as a platform to air personal grievances.

The Orthodox Union released a statement on Tuesday that condemned the ideas espoused by Pruzansky, but did not mention him by name:

“We cannot countenance a response to terror that resorts to wholesale demonization, advocates for the collective punishment of Israeli Arabs, or calls for the destruction or dismantling of Muslim holy places… Such rhetoric is anathema to the Jewish religious tradition and has no place in civil society. Such rhetoric is wrong and must be repudiated, whether it is voiced by lay leaders, community leaders or rabbis.”

Zack Schrieber is an intern at Tablet Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @zschrieber.