Both Eisenberg and Prager have strong feelings about CUFI, a national organization dedicated to giving Christians an opportunity to speak with one voice in support of Israel. CUFI members are “among the most decent people I have met in my life and are genuinely as pro-Jewish and pro-Israel as anyone could be,” Prager says in a phone interview with the CJN.
Some members of the Jewish community marginalize the organization because of the “traditional Jewish suspicion of Christians, which is completely uncalled for,” Prager says. To saddle American Christians with the sins of Europe’s Christians is “literally immoral.”
CUFI members have conservative political and social positions, and most Jews have liberal social and political positions, “but so, what?” Prager asks. “The issue is Israel’s survival, not American politics.”
Speaking at a Reform synagogue, where you are considered a “religious heretic” if your political views aren’t liberal, Prager says, is a rarity for the highly public, outspoken personality. Although Prager has belonged to the Stephen S. Wise Temple (Reform) in Los Angeles for 20 years and teaches Torah there once a month, most Reform congregations “are not receptive to having a political conservative speak at their synagogue,” he says. This is a “sad commentary on the intellectual openness in Reform Judaism.”
However, Prager is a popular lecturer at Orthodox and Conservative conventions and congregations and spoke to a large gathering at Solon’s Chabad Jewish Center in 2008. “It will be a long time before the Reform movement will have a conservative speak at one of its conventions, because unlike Rabbi Matt (Eisenberg), they are not as intellectually open,” he adds.
Among Prager’s many concerns is the apathy of young Jews regarding Judaism and Israel. “Many of today’s kids have not been raised to be committed to either,” he says. “They are being raised as committed liberals, not committed Jews. It is up to the parents to figure out the hierarchy of their value system.”
During his talk at Temple Israel Ner Tamid, Prager will discuss how the Torah is the most transformational document in human history. Yet, “very few people understand or can articulate exactly how it transformed the world,” he says. “When Jews understand this, it causes them to reevaluate the Torah and ultimately ask the question, ‘Why do I not believe this is a divine document?’”