TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s inauguration rabbi is set to become the first non-Israeli to light a torch during Israel’s annual Independence Day ceremony in Jerusalem next month.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was one of three people chosen for the honor by Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sport.
Last year, Culture Minister Miri Regev announced that Jews who are not citizens of Israel would also be eligible to light the torch, since their participation would reflect the idea that the State of Israel is also the homeland of Diaspora Jews.
Hier, a longtime family friend of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, delivered a prayer during the January inauguration in which he recited Psalm 137, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. The doer of all these shall never falter.”
The choice to cite that particular verse seemed to be a deliberate one since less than a month earlier the Obama administration abstained on a historic UN Security Council vote that defined Jerusalem – together with Judaism’s holiest sites – as “occupied Palestinian territory.”
The theme for this year’s Independence Day ceremony is “Jerusalem: the Eternal Capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish People.”
In 2015, Muslim Arab-Israeli news anchor Lucy Aharish was given the honor of lighting a torch at the ceremony.
This year’s other honorees include Amnon Shashua, the co-founder of Mobileye and OrCam, and Israeli singer and actor Yehoram Gaon.
Watch Rabbi Hier’s inauguration prayer below.