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Co-founder of March for Our Lives and leftist darling David Hogg is scheduled to speak to a convention of thousands of high school students in Dallas in February. Eighteen-year-old Hogg rose to fame as a gun control activist after a shooting at his high school in Parkland, Florida in February 2018.
Since the attack, Hogg has appeared at numerous events around the country and on television to talk gun control, including Anderson Cooper on CNN and “The Dr. Phil Show,” both within weeks of the massacre. Hogg has accused Second Amendment supporters of caring more about the right to bear arms than the lives of children, attacking Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in particular.
For example, he began a March 2018 speech by displaying a “price tag” of $1.05. Hogg’s sister Lauren explained, “We took the amount of money that Marco Rubio took from the NRA, and we divided it by every single student in the state of Florida. So, this is how much we’re worth to the Florida government. It’s our price tag.”
With the national notoriety he has accrued, it comes as no surprise that Hogg has snagged this upcoming speaking engagement in Dallas. What is shocking, however, is that he will not be presenting at a gun control conference or Young Democrats event. He will be the keynote speaker at the biennial convention of the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), the youth branch of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).
The URJ is the largest Jewish denomination in North America. More than one million Americans and Canadians are affiliated with its 900 member congregations. Hogg is not Jewish, so his only role at this convention will be as a political activist.
Judaism is based on the Torah and the 613 commandments contained therein. Indeed, before liberal streams of Judaism such as Reform came along in the last several hundred years, all Jews were Orthodox, meaning they aimed to follow the laws of the Torah completely and faithfully.
Conceived in Germany in the 19th century, the idea of Reform Judaism was to adapt Judaism to a changing modern world. Today, the majority of Jews in the United States (35 percent) identify as Reform, with only one in ten identifying as Orthodox, according to a 2013 study by Pew Research Center.
I grew up in the Union for Reform Judaism. My family were members of our local Reform congregation, where I attended religious school and had a Bat Mitzvah. I spent three summers at Camp Newman, one of the URJ’s flagship summer camps, and participated in NFTY during high school, even attending NFTY Convention in Washington D.C. when I was 17.
I come from a long line of career military officers on my mother’s side and small business owners on my father’s side, so, in addition to being raised a Reform Jew, I was also raised with conservative ideals. The Jewish values I learned at our Reform temple meshed seamlessly with my family’s political and lifestyle views.
While the URJ and NFTY have had latent ties to leftism and the Democratic Party for many years, diversity of politics was accepted in our Jewish community during my childhood, and we came together over shared values such as tikkun olam (repairing the world), the importance of family and community, and tzedakah (giving charity).
It has only been in recent years that the URJ and NFTY are openly supporting leftism and shunning conservatives. The theology of today’s Reform movement, with its worship of transgender inclusion, gay marriage, institutional racism, white privilege, open borders, availability of abortion, and gun control with its Jews Demand Action campaign, bears little resemblance to the ages-old Torah-based Judaism.
For conservative-leaning non-Orthodox Jews nationwide, it is painful to watch the transformation of liberal Judaism into simply a leftist advocacy group. Having Hogg at NFTY Convention as the keynote speaker is arguably the most open endorsement of leftist political ideology the Reform movement has displayed.