Monday, July 24, 2006

Daryush Pragerzadeh

AKA Dennis Prager, this is the honorary Farsi name the Persian synagogue of Nessah dubbed upon the famous Jewish talk-show host. First I would like to speak about what he said and then discuss another realization that I made just by being at that shul.

I have to say the man is very charismatic and I totally agreed with much of what he said. I will try to present some of what he said. His main topic was “Why be Jewish?” but the talk quickly degraded into what was going on in the Middle East.

We started by talking about the. He mentioned Hamas’ official slogan, translated into English, “we love death more than the Jews love life”. This death-obsession is very similar to an enemy we experienced in the past, namely, ancient Egypt, whose greatest contribution to the world were magnificent tombs, the pyramids. Their greatest gods were gods of the dead and their bible was the Book of the Dead. Judaism, Prager said, was more obsessed with life than any other culture. We say that an hour here is better than all eternity in the World to Come.

Judaism wants to see a complete separation of life and death. One may not consume milk and meat together because milk symbolizes life, the only thing that can keep a mammal alive in its earliest months, and meat is death because it took an animal’s death to provide the meat. There were other examples of this that I do not currently recall.

So, why be Jewish? He talked to us about that he agrees with the Jews being the Chosen People. Once Christianity realized it, they left their dark age in Europe, and the most successful country in the world, America, also happens to be the most ardent supporter of Israel. The most maligned countries in the world are the muslim countries and france, which happen to be the most anti-Semitic. The ultimate test of entering

Meanwhile he says, think what you want about ‘67 borders and what-have-you, but he said that anyone that does not support what Israel is doing right now is not only anti-Israel, but “an anti-Semite” and is perverse. If you say that you want Israel not to fight the terrorists then you are a terrorist and a horrible human being. I cant give what he said justice, but listen to 870 AM from 9 AM-Noon weekdays if you are in LA. I haven’t listened to him yet, but I assume he’s just as good as he was today.

It’s amazing that in the middle of summer, when you would expect everyone to be on vacation, there were about 2,000 people at the Nessah synagogue, and apparently they get 1,500 on a normal Shabbat when there is not a world-famous radio-talker speaking. Even more amazing, it seems that the average age of people there was around the age of just learning how to drive. There were mostly teenagers and twenty-somethings there, when you would expect most people this age to be at camp or doing something other than going to shul. In comparison, VBS’s attendance on days when there is not a High Holiday (ie: every day other than three in a year) is probably 10 times smaller and the person of the average age is collecting Social Security.

Seeing the successes of the Nessah Synagogue, I have decided to go ahead with my idea to do something about the situation at VBS. Having spoken to many members of the daily minyan, including a number of Board Members, I have come to the conclusion that there is a consensus that there needs to be a change. This is from the people that still show up. Kal VaChomer, the people that don’t certainly feel this way or else they would probably be showing up. Or just coming out of guilt for the High Holidays.

More to come later, but for now I need to go to the super-hugh Pro-Israel Rally at the Federation which will also be attended by the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

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