New York Times columnist David Brooks has said radio host and writer Dennis Prager “is intelligent 99 percent of the time.” On Wednesday night, Aug. 24, he was 100 percent engaging with an enthusiastic crowd of 350 at Congregation Beth Tefillah.
Prager talked about the decline of organized religion and a belief in G-d in favor of secular, “touchy-feely” sentiment.
“Today’s morality is about feelings, not action. Our schools are teaching vague values, and it’s painful to read the New York Times opinion page,” he said. “I believe there is indeed a clear right and wrong. It’s a tragedy that Jews are so profoundly secularized. Jews are behind just about every ‘ism’: feminism, Marxism, socialism.”
Prager was recently asked to debate at Oxford (his alma mater) on the topic “Who is the biggest obstacle to Middle East peace: Hamas or Israel?” He was so flabbergasted that he had to call back to ensure he got the subject correct — as if it were a legitimate, two-sided question.
Prager said college is a “G-d-less place. The best way to get through is to stay inebriated and not listen to professors. On campuses today religious Christians are held in the highest contempt.”
Prager is not mean-spirited. He fielded a question on homosexuality in a caring way.
But he is perplexed by fading gender identity and “experiments by crackpots, public cursing and public nudity.” The only guest he yelled at on his radio show was a Jewish representative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who equated eating barbecue chicken and cremating Jews in the Holocaust.
Prager also addressed the moral obligation to be happy: “Even if you don’t feel it at the moment, it’s your responsibility to make others around you feel comfortable.”
He made the Sandy Springs audience feel comfortable by including lighthearted moments. He said his drug of choice is classical music, and soon he will conduct at Disney Hall in Los Angeles.
Prager said in his yeshiva days he once told his rebbe that he was not in the mood to daven. The rebbe replied, “So what?”
“Prager has changed my life. I loyally listen to his ‘Happy Hour’ and ‘Male/Female Hour,’ which are core to my character,” said audience member Joni Bellew, a member of Christians United for Israel. “I call him the king of clarity.”
Laurie Kunkes said: “I listen to Prager’s show every day from 12 to 3 while I am running errands. He truly illuminates the issues.”
Photos by Marcia Caller Jaffe