Thursday, February 14, 2008

Beloved rabbi says unbelievably regrettable things

Julie Fax's story this week is going to be a talker. It's about the Chai Center's beloved rabbi, Shlomo "Schwartzie" Schwartz, who has a habit of writing really inappropriate things -- in an odd texty language -- when responding to the e-mails of sort-of shiksas who come to his services. (I can only imagine what he would say to this shiksa.) Here's what he thinks of non-Jewish women who by dating Jewish men are diluting the Jewish people:
"You are a f---ing Nazi. You are killing a Jew and I hate you for that and I'll piss on your grave. You are not going to kill my Jews."
That should get your attention. But it's the e-mails he sent to three women that Julie found that really shocked me. He told one woman who had come to the Chai Center seeking support after her mother, whose dying wish was that she marry a Jew, passed. Schwartzie told her that because her mother's conversion wasn't legit:
"She might have been agrt mother, but as a 'Jewish' mother she was a miserable failure! In truth she really was not a FAILURE as a Jew; since, in the eyes of G-d (where it COUNTS) she wasn't!"
Here is the interchange with another woman:
Jackie Campbell (not her real name), who is not Jewish, was invited by her Jewish neighbor to attend Schwartzie's Rosh Hashanah services last fall at the Writers Guild Theater.

A graduate of Berkeley who has published research on breast cancer and Eastern medicine and now produces children's health and exercise videos, Campbell wrote to Schwartzie to follow up on a comment he had made about Jewish astrology. In her e-mail, she told Schwartzie that her father's father was Jewish, and she also asked the rabbi for "words of wisdom" about her Jewish ex-boyfriend, whom she had recently broken up with when she realized he wouldn't marry a non-Jew.

Schwartzie wrote back:

"A paternal grandpapy does not make U a Jew. Get used 2 it & get used 2 the program; its called the Reality of truth, even if it disturbs yr comfort zone. It is really low space morally & ethically of you 2 cast aspersions on Jews & their religion bcz they tell the truth. U R not a Jew even if tht means tht U lose yr boy toy," read part of his long tirade to her.

Campbell said the e-mails deeply disturbed her and embarrassed her Jewish friends, who assured her he did not represent Judaism. She wrote that to Schwartzie in answer to his e-mail.

Schwartzie responded:

"How dare U B so nervy as 2 criticize me when U r the brazen hussy slut chasing after Jewish men (even when they R Orthodox & you KNOW tht it is against their G-d & religion). Shame on U 4 yr disgusting unpaid whoring ways 2 try & take Jewish men away from Jewish women. Hitler murdered Jews & U R also trying 2 exterminate Jews."
Julie is ridiculously judicious with the handling of this story. It's a long, well-researched, thoughtful, relevant piece, and the sensational nature of Schwartzie's e-mails are handled with, I feel, total sensitivity for the fact that this is a man with a serious following in the LA Jewish community. Schwartzie's son, Mendel, said his father's e-mails were inappropriate but that they were an unfair blemish on an otherwise wholesome rabbinate.

*Update: Luke Ford read this article and had this to say:
If you believe that God gave the Torah, you can argue with the way Schwartzie expressed himself, but the gist of what he said and did is totally congruent with Torah. Orthodox Judaism has standards that are more important for Orthodox Jews than being nice to goyim.


Anonymous said...

It's certainly possible to comment about the rules of Jewish Orthodoxy and to remain clear and firm about them without adding invective and slurs. Many Jews feel strongly about intermarriage and that can be stated without calling anyone a Nazi who is merely ignorant of the rules this rabbi lives by. Nastiness in expression is hardly necessary here and does the image of Jewish belief and culture real harm.

ExNihilo said...

I am curious, being a gentile, what the general Jewish community believes about this - and from where in the Torah a belief is taken so strongly against intermarriage (or is this strictly against intermarriage with those who will not convert?)...

Anonymous said...

It's clearly not in the Bible. Moses' wife was not Jewish, and Ruth, the convert, is celebrated.

This is a later, Talmudic proscription, and hence is disputed by Conservative and Reform Jews.

Anonymous said...

This blogger -- a critic of the Chabad movement which spawned Schwartzie -- says this particular kind of vehemence is part of the Lubavitcher tradition, and based on the writings in The Tanya, the book by the very first Lubavitcher rabbi.

Informed said...

True Rabbi Schwartz said things in NOT SUCH A NICE WAY

The Lubavitcher Rebbe did say that THIS WILL HAPPEN the children of "Non-Orthodox Conversions" will feel that they were cheated
Don't be Angry at rabbi Schwartz for telling them that THEY ARE NOT JEWISH or that THEY CANNOT MARRY A JEW just like you aren't angry at the doctor who diognosis Cancer (although you are unhappy about it.

Also Check
Sicha of the Lubavitche Rebbe Purim 5730 (i Couldn't find a translation online) nut the PDF of the Unedited transcript an be fouund on
Search For ליקוטי שיחות תש"ל
A book by Dr. Immanuel Schchet "Who is a Jew"