The Rabbi and the EDL

By Gerry Gordon, The Iconoclast

Rabbi Nachum Shifren, known as the ‘surfing Rabbi’, is a candidate for a California Senate Seat in District 26 in West Los Angeles. He is an Orthodox Rabbi, a product of the Chabad Movement that captured his attention at UC Santa Barbara and lead to his spiritual conversion. He ran away from his San Fernando home at age 12 to Malibu and became enamored of watching the strength and grace of surfers. He ultimately became a Los Angeles County lifeguard, surfer and an accomplished triathelete.

As he told us in a recent interview, he is the only declared California State Senate candidate who has come out against Sharia. He has spoken at Tea Party and Republican conventions. He considers members of the Tea Party movement and other Republicans as “the salt of the earth”. They are concerned about the direction in which the country is heading in under the Obama Administration. Among his admirers is Nevada GOP US Senate candidate, Sharron Angle who heard him speak at a national GOP meeting in Reno.

When asked about how the Los Angeles Jewish community views him, he said:

    Many support my views, but others would rather I not be around, embarrassing them.

In contrast, he has significant non-Jewish support both locally and nationally involved in his California State Senate campaign.

But in the midst of the final weeks of his California Senate campaign he is traveling to the UK to show solidarity with the anti-Islamic English Defense League. This has caused The U.K. Guardian to portray Shifren as part of an international web involving the US Tea Party Movement and the anti-Sharia cause. That in turn has made the British Jewish establishment uneasy about Rabbi Schifrin’s appearances and speeches in Britain. But privately that is Shifren’s objective in making this trip to the UK. He said as much in this quote from The Guardian Observer ‘investigation’:

    Shifren, a Californian senate candidate, said Britain’s Jewish community should rally behind the EDL: “The Jewish community is paralyzed with fear, exactly what most radical Muslim agitators want. The people of England are in the forefront of this war – and it is a war. One of the purposes of this visit is to put the kibosh on the notion in the Jewish community that they cannot co-operate with the EDL, which is rubbish.”

This is far from his origins as a surfing San Fernando Valley guy who worked in the McGovern campaign in 1972. He frequently quotes Churchill about the transformation of liberal youth to conservative adulthood:

    “If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

Shifren’s spiritual transformation from liberal surfer to conservative Chabad Rabbi stemmed from his first encounters at UC Santa Barbara. As he puts it:

    “You get sucked in by the food at Chabad, and then you find yourself donning a kippot and singing the blues”.

Shifren took an undergraduate degree in both German and Spanish literature and undertook further advanced education in Germany.
In 1987 the lure of Israel found him as a Mahal (volunteer) in an IDF artillery unit that used his athletic abilities as a physical training instructor at the famed Orde Wingate Sports Training Institute. He stayed in Israel for several years, during which time he undertook rabbinic training and obtained his ordination after passing tests in Jewish Law, Halacha.

In our interview with him, he said that his real transformation as both a Conservative and a Sharia opponent came as a result of facing Palestinian issues. He was struck the deaths of fellow Jewish settlers in the Shomron, or Samaria, surrounded as they were by Palestinian Arab villages. He said when fellow Jews were being killed by Palestinian Arabs, he realized that they were being killed solely because they were Jews. Prior to that he thought only the Nazis did that during the Shoah. It donned on him that both he and his fellow Jewish settlers were the target of implacable hatred at the core of Islamic doctrine.

When he returned to California in 1991, he was able to secure teaching credentials in the Los Angeles school system because of his special skill. He could speak Spanish. That lead to a 22 year stint in what he characterized as a dysfunctional Los Angeles school system contending with Hispanic and African American gangs. Among his supporters in the California State Senate race are African American pastors who recognize his valued contributions during his career as an educator.

He had an up close and personal confrontation with a Black Muslim during a year long stint inside the Los Angeles County correctional system as a remedial teacher.

A prison inmate and a Nation of Islam member told Shifren that his prophet Elijah Mohammed told him to kill Jews. After that threat, he had an armed prison guard with him in his remedial education sessions.

When asked about how his four children, aged 12 to 18 feel about their dad engaged in a political race, he said, “they understand what is driving me, even as they are pre-occupied with friends and schooling”. Unlike their father, who was a product of public schools, his children have Orthodox Jewish day schools.

When asked about whether there were any members of the American rabbinate who got his message of concern about the threat of Sharia to fundamental American Judeo Christian values, he said, “None, except for one, my friend Rabbi Hausman in Massachusetts.”
So is Rabbi Shifren an ‘extremist’. I think the answer can be found in the famed quote from the late Conservative and Libertarian Sen. Barry Goldwater in his 1964 GOP Convention Presidential nomination acceptance speech:

    I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!
October 13, 2010 | 4 Comments »

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  1. When asked about whether there were any members of the American rabbinate who got his message of concern about the threat of Sharia to fundamental American Judeo Christian values, he said, “None, except for one, my friend Rabbi Hausman in Massachusetts.”

    Unbelievable. How could you not be concerned? Jews never learn.

  2. …his prophet Elijah Mohammed told him to kill Jews…

    Elijah Mohammed – the ultimate Dhimmi. Sucking up to the people who enslaved the blacks, and who even now are slaughtering them in Darfur…

    This “disciple” should understand that we, as a matter of simple defense, must kill those who would kill Jews… It works both ways…

  3. Just sent this article to my cousin in the UK (another fascist like myself). Time to team up with allies like the EDL.

  4. This Rabbi has impressive CV. With the US invasion from Mexico Spanish is an asset. With the invasion of Islam into the US, his experience in Israel is an asset. Wish him well,B’Hatzlacha.