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This we do not bless: Reach higher, Rabbi Hier

Rabbi Marvin Hier should not deliver the inaugural prayer for a president who embraced the language of xenophobia
Rabbi Marvin Hier (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Rabbi Marvin Hier (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

I pray for the welfare of the United States. After all, the ancient sage, Rabbi Chanina, deputy of the Priests instructed, Jews to:

Pray for the welfare of the government. If it were not for the fear of the government, each man would eat their neighbor alive! (Pirkei Avot)

I respect the office of the President. Each Shabbat, I ask God to:

Bless the officials of the United States with wisdom and compassion. Please in their hearts devotion to justice, truth, and equality. Let their actions reflect mercy for the poor, the defenseless, and the needy among us.

But the possibility that Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, might offer a blessing at the upcoming Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump, is not a fulfillment of these teachings. It would horribly out of sync with the lessons of Jewish history for a Jewish leader to stand in solidarity with an elected official who has included White Nationalists in his closest circles. Trump’s presidential campaign actively embraced the very language of the “America First,” a World War II era American xenophobic movement, who argued against American involvement in the war.

Rabbi Marvin Hier
Rabbi Marvin Hier

Simon Wiesenthal, whose name adorns Rabbi Hier’s organization, was a Jewish Austrian Holocaust survivor who became famous after World War II for his work as a Nazi hunter. Rabbi Marvin Hier’s blessing the inauguration of Donald Trump, a moment of celebration for modern day Nazism in the form of White Nationalism, would be a betrayal of Wiesenthal’s legacy.

We must neither stand idly by — let alone actively bless — the ascent of Donald Trump, thereby enfranchising the danger he’s introduced into the heart of American power.

About the Author
Rabbi Menachem Creditor is Scholar in Residence at UJA-Federation New York, where his role is amplifying Jewish learning, leadership and values within the UJA-Federation community of supporters, staff, and partners. In 2013, he was named by Newsweek as one of the fifty most influential rabbis in America. Rabbi Creditor has been involved in the leadership of Rabbis Against Gun Violence, American Jewish World Service, AIPAC and the One American Movement, an organization dedicated to bringing together Americans of different faiths and opinions. Among his 16 books and six albums of original Jewish music are “And Yet We Love: Poems,” “Primal Prayers,” and “Olam Chesed Yibaneh/A World of Love.”
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