The first Orthodox rabbi to ever give a benediction at an American president’s inauguration chose to recite a psalm stressing Judaism’s bond with Jerusalem.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, 77, founder of the Los-Angeles based Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in his inauguration prayer, quoting Psalm 137, “Bless all of our allies around the world who share our beliefs, ‘By the rivers of Babylon, we wept as we remember Zion. … If I forget you O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.’”
Hier was the first religious leader to recite an invocation at the ceremony. In his prayer he also drew from other Psalms and asked that the “Eternal God bless President Donald J. Trump and America, our great nation.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, Hier told Los Angeles radio station KPCC that when the Inaugural Committee contacted him about his participation he said, “It would be my honor to do so.”
He told the Algemeiner last week that he did not see eye-to-eye with the president on all issues but was “rooting for [his] success.”
“Instead of more divisiveness, let’s hope for the best from him,” Hier told the paper. “[Let’s show] respect for the institution of the American presidency and the peaceful transition of power that comes once every four years.”
According to the Algemeiner, Hier is the first orthodox Rabbi to say a prayer at an inauguration, but eight Conservative and Reform Jewish leaders have been invited in the past to presidential swearing-in ceremonies, including those of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism when she married her husband Jared Kushner, and she and Kushner received special rabbinical permission to drive to Capitol Hill for the ceremony, despite the fact that it was held on Shabbat.