What Is the Proper Blessing at a Convention?

We’ve come a long way from the time when the rabbi in Fiddler on the Roof said that the proper blessing for the czar is, “May God keep the czar… far away from us.”  

But America is different. We Jews are well-represented on all sides of the political spectrum, with access to the points of power. A practicing observant Jew and her husband are not only the daughter and son-in-law of the leader of our country, but they are trusted advisors who play a key role in formulating policy. The spouse of one of the vice presidential candidate of the opposing party is Jewish, and a considerable number of Jews are deeply involved in a number of ways in governing and in the political process.   

It is no wonder that in America, a country founded on principles of religious liberty and tolerance, our political leaders would want and seek our blessing – even at their political conventions. A rabbi’s invocation should not endorse any one candidate or platform. Rather it offers the opportunity to impart wisdom from our tradition and shed light on the values and ideals to which we should aspire. With that in mind, and in that spirit, I offered the following invocation at one of the state meetings that took place at one of the national political conventions held the past two weeks.

Invocation at Maryland State Democratic Party Meeting at the 2020 Democratic National Convention

We turn to You, the Creator of all.  You are the Divine Spirit implanted within each of us, and the force which is transcendent and beyond all of us. It is to You we turn in these uncertain, unparalleled, unprecedented times.  You are infinite, yet we are finite, for as the Psalmist wrote: “A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it has passed.”

So we turn to You, in prayer, to the power beyond us – to find the strength within us to help us deal with the unfathomable, to grant us the wisdom to help us to comprehend the incomprehensible, to provide the moorings and grounding we so desperately need when our ship’s anchor has been uprooted and we are adrift, without direction.

In these trying times – Let us not succumb to fear. Let us not be overcome by division, divisiveness and dissent. Let not bigotry, hatred, intolerance or prejudice dominate and define who we are.

For the Almighty calls upon us to heal the sick and uphold the fallen; to share our bounty and the blessings bestowed upon us with others; to rise above pettiness, and to treat all of God’s creatures with kindness, respect, dignity and compassion.

Your word and Your teachings recorded in sacred scriptures provide us with a compass and light the path before us.  The Bible implores us to care for the widow, the stranger and the orphan in our midst, for they are the vulnerable and less fortunate among us.

May we have leaders whose vision is consistent with Your message, who will unite us.  Leaders who have the courage to admit when they are wrong, who will work with all, who will inspire us and who will bring out the best in each of us so that the promise of America will be fulfilled and become a reality.  May we have and may we choose leaders who value the dignity of all and who are guided by the noble values and ideals articulated by the prophets of old.

As the prophet Micah said: “What is it that God asks of you?  Only to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.”

About the Author
Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt founded Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Maryland in 1988, a vibrant Conservative synagogue of 620 families. He is president of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America, Director of Israel Policy and Advocacy for the Rabbinical Assembly and member of the National Executive Council of AIPAC. He has taught Jewish history and theology at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. In recognition of Rabbi Weinblatt’s leadership role in the community and as an outstanding teacher and speaker, he has received many awards from community organizations such as the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and the Greater Washington Chapter of ORT. He is the author of, “God, Prayer and Spirituality,” a compilation of his sermons, writings and articles.
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