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Early life and education
Dennis Prager was born in New York City on August 2, 1948, to Hilda Prager (née Friedfeld; 1919–2009) and her husband, Max Prager (1918–2014). Prager and his siblings were raised as Modern Orthodox Jews. He attended the Yeshiva of Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York. There, in the 10th grade, he met Joseph Telushkin. The two became close friends and would later co-author two books. He went on to attend Brooklyn College and graduated with a double major in history and Middle Eastern Studies. Between 1970 and 1972, he attended the Middle East and Russian Institutes (now Harriman Institute) at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. Prager also studied international history, comparative religion, and Arabic at the University of Leeds.
Prager left Columbia University without finishing his master's degree and decided to write an introduction to Judaism with his friend, Telushkin: The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism. Published in 1976, it became a bestseller that was popular in all major American Jewish movements. The book was intended for nonobservant Jews. Unlike Telushkin, who became an Orthodox rabbi, Prager abandoned his Orthodoxy as an adult but continues to maintain many traditional Jewish practices.
In April 1976, Shlomo Bardin, the founder and director of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, invited Prager to succeed him as the director, and Prager hired Telushkin as education director. Prager remained at the institute until September 1983. During his tenure, he succeeded in influencing many young Jews and built up a cadre of "Prager followers". He married Janice Adelstein in 1981, and in 1983, they had their son, David.
In 1982, KABC (AM) in Los Angeles hired Prager to host a talk show on religion every Sunday night. Prager hosted the show for more than ten years. He and Telushkin published another book in 1983, Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism. Later that year, Prager became the Monday-Thursday talk show host for KABC, but he refused to work on Friday night, the beginning of Shabbat. He also wrote a syndicated column for newspapers across the country. In 1985, Prager launched his own quarterly journal, Ultimate Issues, which was renamed to Prager Perspectives in 1996.
Since 1999, he has hosted a nationally syndicated talk show from KRLA in Los Angeles and Salem Radio Network. His show has some recurring segments. The "Happiness Hour" is based on his book Happiness Is a Serious Problem and occurs on the second hour of his show on Fridays. Other regular segments are the "Male/Female Hour", occurring on the second hour of his Wednesday show, and "Ultimate Issues Hour", which takes place on the third hour of his Tuesday show.
In 2009, Prager started a website called Prager University, which creates five-minute videos on various topics from a conservative perspective. According to Prager, he created the site to challenge the "unhealthy effect intellectually and morally" of the American higher education system.
In 2015, Prager headlined the title of one of his columns about the Iran nuclear agreement, "1938 and 2015: Only the Names Are Different", implying that Obama was the equivalent of Neville Chamberlain whose Munich Agreement with Hitler is widely regarded as a failed act of appeasement toward Nazi Germany.
Although Prager endorsed Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, he said that Trump was his “17th choice out of 17 candidates.” He clarified that he “was not a Trump supporter, when there was a choice,” but added, “There is no choice now.” Prager had previously said that "unfit to be a presidential candidate, let alone president". Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic noted that Prager had also said that he could not "trust the integrity or conscience of a man or woman who publicly humiliates his or her spouse" through adultery; that those who lie to besmirch the names of others cannot be trusted; and that "any human being with a functioning conscience or a decent heart loathes torture". Prager said that endorsing Trump was in line with his principles because "We hold that defeating Hillary Clinton, the Democrats, and the Left is also a principle. And that it is the greater principle."
In July 2017, Prager stated that "the news media in the West pose a far greater danger to Western civilization than Russia does."
Prager's columns are handled by Creators Syndicate. He has been published in The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and Commentary. His weekly syndicated column appears on such online websites as Townhall, National Review Online, Jewish World Review and elsewhere. He also writes a bi-weekly column for The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
He is also the author of seven books:
- The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism (with Joseph Telushkin) (1986) ISBN 0-671-62261-7
- Think a Second Time (44 Essays on 44 Subjects) (1996) ISBN 0-06-098709-X
- Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual (1999) ISBN 0-06-098735-9
- Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism (with Joseph Telushkin) (2003) ISBN 0-7432-4620-9
- Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (2012) ISBN 0-06198512-0
- The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code (2015) ISBN 978-1621574170
- The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Path to Follow (2015) (for children) ISBN 9781511317092
- For Goodness Sake, 1993
- For Goodness Sake II, 1996
- Israel in a Time of Terror, 2002
- Baseball, Dennis, & the French, 2011
- No Safe Spaces (in production)
- "Dennis Prager". Sara E. Karesh; Mitchell M. Hurvitz (2005). Encyclopedia of Judaism. Infobase Publishing. pp. 402–. ISBN 978-0-8160-6982-8. https://books.google.com/books?id=Z2cCZBDm8F8C&pg=PA402.
- "Why the Jews? The Reason for Anti-Semitism, by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin". Commentary Magazine, Mona Charen / Oct. 1, 1983
- "Adam Carolla Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for 'No Safe Spaces' Movie". http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/adam-carolla-launches-crowdfunding-campaign-no-safe-spaces-movie-1007546.
- "YouTube restricts access to Alan Dershowitz video". Boston Globe, Hiawatha Bray October 14, 2016
- "YouTube restricts access to Dershowitz video - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/10/14/youtube-restricts-access-dershowitz-video/BpnEzzb6VS2U3VZU0tetlI/story.html.
- Hallowell, Billy. "Radio Host Dennis Prager Has a New Online ‘College’ to Combat Liberal Bias and Teach Judeo-Christian Values". The Blaze. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/08/29/radio-host-dennis-prager-has-a-new-online-college-to-combat-liberal-bias-and-teach-judeo-christian-values/.
- "Republican leaders who support Trump are modern-day Neville Chamberlains". https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/06/09/republican-leaders-who-support-trump-are-modern-day-neville-chamberlains/.
- Carter, Evan (September 8, 2016). "Q&A: Dennis Prager off the air". http://hillsdalecollegian.com/2016/09/dennis-prager-talks-with-the-collegian/.
- Bernstein, Joseph. "How PragerU Quietly Became One Of The Right's Loudest VoicesHow PragerU Is Winning The Right Wing Culture War Without Donald Trump" (in en). https://www.buzzfeed.com/josephbernstein/prager-university.
- Friedersdorf, Conor. "Dennis Prager Puts Defeating Clinton Ahead of All His Other Principles" (in en-US). The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/09/what-supporting-donald-trump-did-to-dennis-pragers-principles/498905/.
- "Trump, Conservatives, and the ‘Principles’ Question" (in en). National Review. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/439712/never-trump-supporters-dont-realize-hillary-clinton-worse-option-donald-trump.
- Deb, Sopan (2017-08-07). "Santa Monica Symphony Roiled by Conservative Guest Conductor" (in en-US). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/07/arts/music/santa-monica-symphony-dennis-prager-conservative-guest-conductor.html.
- "Dennis Prager Warns Conservatives About Defeating Themselves". NewsMax, Brian Freeman | 18 Oct 2016
- "For goodness sake II". World cat. http://www.worldcat.org/title/for-goodness-sake-ii/oclc/370275688&referer=brief_results.