Tag Archives: Google

Jew of the Week: Dennis Prager

The World’s Most Popular “University”

Dennis Mark Prager (b. 1948) was born in New York City to an Orthodox Jewish family. He attended religious schools, and during his time at the Yeshiva of Flatbush met the future renowned rabbi Joseph Telushkin. Prager majored in history and Middle Eastern studies at Brooklyn College before spending several years at Columbia University studying both the Middle East and Russia, followed by a stint at the University of Leeds learning Arabic and comparative religions. In the mid-70s, Prager teamed up with Rabbi Telushkin to co-author The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism. The bestselling book was a huge success and shot Prager into the spotlight. Shortly after, he was hired to be the director of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute of the American Jewish University. (He would later teach Hebrew Bible at the University between 1992 and 2006.) In 1982, he met an executive of Los Angeles’ KABC Radio who was struck by Prager’s impressive knowledge, and instantly hired him to host a Sunday radio show called Religion on the Line. It was so popular that Prager was soon doing radio shows every day except Friday and Saturday (because of Shabbat). Meanwhile, he co-authored another bestseller with Rabbi Telushkin, Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism. By 1999, Prager’s radio show was nationally syndicated, as was his newspaper column. He was called “One of America’s five best speakers”, as well as “one of the three most interesting minds in American Jewish Life”, and was described by the LA Times as “An amazingly gifted man and moralist”. All in all, Prager has published seven books (including The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code) and produced five films (including Israel in a Time of Terror, and the forthcoming No Safe Spaces about the extremes of political correctness). He continues to host one of America’s most popular radio shows, and is among the most sought-after political commentators in the world. Today, Prager is perhaps most famous for his Prager University, which he co-founded in 2009 in response to the growing trend of squashing conservative voices in the media and on campus. PragerU’s concise and informative five-minute videos have become hugely popular. To date, they have garnered over 1 billion views, with hundreds of millions of followers across social media sites. The videos have been so successful that PragerU has been called “the right-wing YouTube empire that’s quietly turning millenials into conservatives.” Perhaps because of this, Google recently started blocking some of PragerU’s videos, perplexingly citing them as “inappropriate”. Regardless of whether one agrees with Prager’s views or not, the blatant suppression of free speech sets a dangerous precedent. For this reason, Prager has launched a lawsuit against Google and YouTube, together with a campaign to draw support for the preservation of free speech (see their video, Who Will Google Silence Next?) Although Jew of the Week also disagrees with some of PragerU’s content, we nonetheless stand in solidarity with them (having had one of our own YouTube videos inexplicably flagged for “inappropriateness”). Below we present some of PragerU’s most popular videos:

Does Science Argue For or Against God?

Why I Left the Left

Why Isn’t There a Palestinian State?

Are the Police Racist?

There is No Gender Wage Gap

An Arab Muslim in the Israeli Army

Why I Left Greenpeace

Words of the Week

My politics are exactly what they were when I was a liberal and a Democrat, but that’s now considered conservative.
– Dennis Prager

Jew of the Week: Ruth Porat

“The Most Powerful Woman on Wall Street”

Ruth Porat

Ruth Porat

Ruth Porat (b. 1957) was born in England to Jewish immigrants from Israel. Her father was a Holocaust survivor who escaped to a kibbutz and fought in Israel’s War of Independence. He later became a physicist and moved the family first to Massachusetts and then to California, while doing research at Harvard, MIT and the National Accelerator Lab in Palo Alto. Ruth Porat studied at Stanford, and has Master’s degrees from both The London School of Economics and The Wharton School. Throughout most of her career, Porat worked for Morgan Stanley, rising all the way up to the rank of CFO and Executive Vice President. Before that, she served as the Vice Chair of their Investment Banking division, and the head of their international Financial Institutions Group. During the 2008 Financial Crisis, Porat was a chief adviser to the US Treasury, and was praised for helping to save AIG from total collapse, an event that would have completely tanked the economy. Not long ago, she was nicknamed the “Most Powerful Woman on Wall Street”. At the same time, Porat has been married for over 30 years, and is a mother of three, maintaining a steady “work-family mix”, as she calls it, and encouraging her co-workers to do the same. As one of only a few women with such high positions in the financial world, she has become an important role model. She is also a breast cancer survivor. In the past, working as a co-head of Morgan Stanley’s tech investment division, she directed funds to companies like eBay, and Amazon in their early days, helping to turn them into the giant companies they are today. Due to her vast knowledge of both the financial sector and the digital world, she was recently hired by Google, and as of last week, is their new CFO.

Words of the Week

Transgressions of man towards God – Yom Kippur atones for them. Transgressions of man towards man, Yom Kippur does not atone for them, until one seeks forgiveness from one’s fellow.
– Talmud, Yoma 85b

Jew of the Week: Ray Kurzweil

“Revolutionary Who Made America”

Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil

Raymond Kurzweil (b. 1948) was born in New York to Austrian-Jewish parents who escaped Europe before the start of World War II. He was fascinated by science-fiction from a young age and by age 5, decided that he wanted to be an inventor. He was already designing and building computers by 12, and developed a theory for the neocortex of the brain by 14. The following year he wrote his first computer program, and a couple years later won the International Science Fair for creating a computer that could compose music. While studying at MIT, he created a program that matches high school students with colleges, and sold it for the equivalent of about $700,000 in today’s value. In 1974, Kurzweil created a scanner that could read most fonts, then used the technology to create a reading machine for the blind. At the behest of Stevie Wonder, Kurzweil then turned to improving music technology, inventing a new generation of synthesizers whose quality was indistinguishable from that of live instruments. Kurzweil went on to develop one of the first speech recognition systems, followed by devices that assist people with learning disabilities, blindness, ADD, and dyslexia. He published his first book in 1990, followed by six more to date, mostly about the future of technology, as well as nutrition and health. Five of the books have been bestsellers. Many of his predictions about the future have already come true. Kurzweil has won a great number of awards, and has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, while being described as one of the “revolutionaries who made America”. He now works full-time for Google, developing machine learning and language processing. When he dies, Kurzweil intends to have his body cryogenically frozen and stored until a future time when technology might resurrect him.

Words of the Week

If you drop gold and books, pick up first the books, and then the gold.
– Sefer Hasidim