In Inaugural Benediction, Rabbi Marvin Hier Cites Psalm Remembering Zion and Jerusalem
The first orthodox Rabbi to give benediction at a US presidential inauguration cited a psalm highlighting Jerusalem at Friday’s ceremony.
Rabbi Marvin Hier — the 77-year-old founder and dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center — said in his prayer for President Donald Trump: “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’ (Psalm 137).”
Hier was the first religious leader to recite an invocation following Trump’s swearing-in and inaugural address. He prayed that the “Eternal God bless President Donald J. Trump and America, our great nation,” and “guide us to remember the words of the Psalmist, ‘Who may dwell on Your holy mountain? One who does what is right and speaks the truth’ (Psalm 15).”
The rabbi also reminded the crowd, “The freedoms we enjoy are not granted in perpetuity, but must be reclaimed in each generation. As our ancestors have planted for us so we must plant for others.”
As Hier took the podium — one of 6 religious figures to recite a blessing Friday — one could hear cheers and chants in support of the rabbi.
Hier’s acceptance of the inaugural invitation caused a stir in some segments of the Jewish community, but he told The Algemeiner last week that, while he did not see eye-to-eye with Trump on all issues, he’s “rooting for the success” of the new president.
“Instead of more divisiveness, let’s hope for the best from him,” Hier said. “[Let’s show] respect for the institution of the American presidency and the peaceful transition of power that comes once every four years.”
Hier also commended Trump for his “strong commitment to Israel.”
While Hier is the first orthodox Rabbi to say a prayer at an inauguration, eight conservative and reform Jewish leaders have been invited in the past to presidential swearing-in ceremonies, including that of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan.