A Rabbi’s Low Blow


The Jewish Week has long encouraged respectful debate and discussion in its pages on religious, political and social issues. And we look to our rabbis to serve as role models in expressing views that educate rather than marginalize.

So we were particularly disheartened when a member of the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, an 800-member synagogue, the largest Orthodox congregation in Teaneck, N.J., took to his blog last week to compare The Jewish Week to an infamous Nazi newspaper.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, who has described “Jewish journalism” as an “oxymoron,” was upset that our initial online report last week on his resignation as head of a conversion court erred in identifying it as the Beth Din of America when in fact it was the Beit Din of the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County. (We corrected the mistake later that day.) He was particularly disturbed with a phrase that said he had “shared the company” of Rabbi Barry Freundel on the RCA executive committee. Rabbi Freundel was arrested in Washington, D.C., last month for voyeurism at the mikvah.

We regret the use of the phrase, which was not intended to suggest, as Rabbi Pruzansky inferred, that he was “somehow … connected to the alleged malfeasance in DC.”

(According to their rabbinic colleagues, though, the two men were politically aligned in an unsuccessful challenge to the RCA slate of officers elected in 2012, calling for the group to resist more open approaches to Orthodoxy.)

Here, in part, is what Rabbi Pruzansky wrote about us:

“They should apologize. But, I guess, to follow their way of reporting, 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.”

Der Sturmer, of course, was the central vehicle of the Nazi propaganda machine.

We find the comparison outrageous, particularly coming from a leading community rabbi and RCA executive 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.