Just over a week ago I reported that Rabbi Steven Pruzansky had written a post-election blog post that denigrated America's poor and all the voters who voted for President Obama. Pruzansky attacked their intelligence, questioned their American-ness, and made thinly-veiled racial claims about many of them.
When he did this, Pruzansky violated Jewish law, which forbids oppressing the poor and which supports and indeed orders much more support for the poor than America's social safety net now provides.
I argued that Pruzansky should be removed from his post and dismissed from the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) for advocating policies Judaism opposes and for violating Jewish law in the process of doing that.
Pruzansky responded by blocking negative comments on his blog – something he is known to do with regularity – and by slightly editing his blog post to tone down some of the more extreme language, but without noting that he did so. He then published that post on the Jewish Press website and continued to assert that he had done nothing wrong.
Pruzansky also dismissed my attack on his writing as a typical leftist attempt to shut down free speech.
But he did this without ever addressing any of the halakhic claims I made against him.
And now the moral midget from Teaneck has doubled down, not only refusing to apologize for his statements but insisting again that he had done nothing wrong.
…[S]everal members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Teaneck, including a member of the synagogue’s executive board, [circulated] a petition via email among members of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun calling the rabbi to order. In the petition, the congregation members wrote that while they did not question Pruzansky’s right to freedom of speech, the blog “insults and denigrates” members of the community.
Asked to respond, Pruzansky said in an email, “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 1995, Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who had been a longtime member of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, left the synagogue in protest of inflammatory remarks made by Pruzansky against the Rabin government, including use of the term “the Rabin Judenrat.”…
…Pruzansky is a trustee of the Rabbinical Council of America and is on the board of the Beth Din of America, where he serves as a judge as well.
Prominent members of the Jewish community of Teaneck, which has one of the highest concentrations of Modern Orthodox Jews in the United States, noted that Pruzansky’s extremist views have driven away many members of his congregation over the years. Since he was appointed rabbi of Bnai Yeshurun in the mid-1990s, they pointed out, at least seven new Modern Orthodox synagogues have sprung up in Teaneck, to serve, among others, many of his detractors.…
Pruzansky denigrated all poor people including the working poor, and clearly violated Jewish law by doing it.
He has a long history of this type of behavior and has repeatedly proved that he believes the insanity and anti-Jewish garbage that he spews.
Can this man remain a Beit Din of America judge or board member or as a member or board member of the RCA?
No, he cannot – unless these supposed Jewish organizations are willing to have a member and leader who disregards Judaism's teachings on poverty and basic ethics.
The irony is that in the RCA or BDoA, you can lose your position for supporting Yeshivat Chovvei Torah or for arguing that most processed foods don't need kosher supervision (a position the Shulkhan Arukh agrees with).
But if you violate an explict (actually several explicit) Torah prohibitions in writing and repeat those violations and stand by them with no shame at all, the RCA and BDoA will do nothing, because the people injured by that speech are not donors or community leaders or powerful people. The targets of Pruzansky's venom are poor, are non-Jews, are brown and black, not white.
And that, it seems, is just fine with the RCA and BDoA.