February 20, 2020

The rise of Leftism and rabbis fasting on Inauguration Day

Some weeks ago, my column was devoted to an event in American-Jewish life that was equally tragic and farcical — synagogues were sitting shivah after the election of Donald Trump.

This was partially the result of too many American Jews believing what is now known as “fake news” — namely, that Mr. Trump was bringing racists and anti-Semites into his administration. That there was no evidence for this charge — any more than there was when Americans were warned that Ronald Reagan would bring the Ku Klux Klan into his administration — didn’t matter.

So, then, why did many Jews believe this? Because that was what the liberal media reported. And why did they believe the media when they could have read empirically based refutations published in The Wall Street Journal and all other media not on the left?

The answer brings us to the primary reason for the shivah-sitting: the increasing identification of left-wing beliefs with Judaism. If it’s good for the left, it’s good for the Jews and it’s Jewish; if it’s bad for the left, it’s bad for the Jews and not Jewish. This is believed despite the fact that the left is the source of virtually all of the world’s hatred of Israel outside of the Muslim world.

I revisit this subject because of a news item from last week: The rabbi of a Conservative synagogue in Berkeley (and other left-wing rabbis, it turns out) fasted on Inauguration Day.

If it’s good for the left, it’s good for the Jews and it’s Jewish; if it’s bad for the left, it’s bad for the Jews and not Jewish.

As reported in The Jewish Press: “Conservative Rabbi Menachem Creditor, spiritual leader of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, this week sent an email to his members on the eve of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, sharing with them that he was ‘deeply worried about this American moment, as a Jew, as a father, as an American, which is why I cannot abstain from thoughtful action today. … Some of us will fast on Friday, an interfaith moment of unity.”

Did any of these rabbis announce they were fasting when America backed the most devastating anti-Israel resolution in United Nations Security Council history? Or when Christian communities were wiped out by Islamists? Or any time Israelis have been murdered? Or after any of the other horrors taking place in the world today?

If they did, I could not find mention of it. Apparently, it was the inauguration of Donald Trump that moved these rabbis to publicly fast.

Such is the depth of identification with the left among many American Jews.

In order to understand the modern world, it is necessary to understand that the most dynamic religion of the last century has not been Christianity, nor Islam, and certainly not Judaism. It has been leftism. Leftism has not only become the ideology of the Western world’s intellectuals, academics and media, but it also has deeply influenced Judaism and Christianity — far more so than Judaism and Christianity have influenced the world during these hundred years.

For many mainstream Protestants and many Catholics, including the current pope, Christianity and leftism are essentially identical. Christianity for these Christians is leftism with a cross. And for many non-Orthodox Jews, Judaism is leftism with a yarmulke and tallit.

Think about it. The one Jewish state is threatened with extinction, its population threatened with another Holocaust, and many American rabbis are in a frenzy about the election of Donald Trump.

What we have here is the latest example of the left in yet another hysterical moment. Hysteria is to the left what oxygen is to life. Thus, mainstream newspapers and electronic media are filled with stories about the new fascist — even Hitlerian — regime.

On Inauguration Day, Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball” actually said Trump was Hitlerian, and at the Women’s March on Washington, actress Ashley Judd actually spoke of gas chambers. Innumerable New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post writers have called Trump a fascist. This abuse of the words “fascist” and “Hitlerian” has prompted no outcry from American Jews or their institutions, even though all it does is trivialize Hitler and the Holocaust.

In their thorough identification with the left, rabbis and Jewish academics publicly appealed to Rabbi Marvin Hier not to give an invocation at President Trump’s inauguration. That he was the first rabbi invited to do so in more than 30 years meant nothing to these Jews. That he read the biblical passage reminding people not to forget Jerusalem likewise meant nothing to them. Why? Because Rabbi Hier, in their fevered view, was giving a Jewish blessing at the inauguration of a fascist.

Last week, a colleague of mine attended a bat mitzvah celebration at a major local Conservative synagogue. In his congratulatory remarks, the rabbi told the girl how proud she should be that her bat mitzvah and the women’s march took place on the same day. At least a dozen people, recognizing my colleague, went over to her to express their resentment at the rabbi for injecting his politics into this celebration and for assuming that all his congregants are on the left.

Because of left-wing influence on American Judaism, this is a very bad period in American-Jewish life. When most Jews were liberal — in the image of Democrats such as Presidents Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, and Sens. Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Daniel Patrick Moynihan — Judaism could thrive. But if the toxic influence of illiberal leftism is not abandoned, there is little hope for non-Orthodox Judaism. And that really is worth fasting over.

Dennis Prager’s nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) 9 a.m. to noon. His latest project is the internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).