Another Inspirational And Marred Inaugural
Tue, 01/22/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

I have complained about Presidential Inaugurals for years, and I have finally decided to write the letter--my own, as it were, “Inaugural Address”. I love watching the inauguration of our presidents; I’m awed by the pageantry and inspired by words that invariably invoke the best of what this country is, was and strives to become. Through speeches and poetry and song, I am reminded of the enduring nature of our founding documents, which contain lofty notions that transcend even the humanity and wisdom of the authors themselves--notions of inclusion, community and freedom that have served us for more than two hundred years.

It is therefore all the more disappointing and confusing when an Inaugural invocation ends with the words “we ask this in the name of Christ, Our Lord” or some variation on that theme. What?!  I thought this was for ALL of us…as Americans—not as members of ANY specific religion or group. While I have nothing against Jesus or his teachings, this only makes non Christians feel excluded from what we previously thought we were included in—that in truth, we are strangers who will be suffered to stay—but not really a part of the whole.

I am, in fact, a first generation American born child of Holocaust survivors—and my life is the American Dream. I love this country as does my son, and as my father did before me. Why then, must I explain to my son about this “tag line” that so often accompanies national prayers for our leaders and country? The idea of America is not that we allow others who are different to join our Christian Nation, it is that we are bound together by a common constitution and a bill of rights, NOT a religion or group—as was correctly pointed out by President Obama in his speech. To infer differently is to misunderstand the true greatness of our unique experiment in democracy. While we may be informed individually by our respective spiritual traditions, we are bound together as Americans by something entirely separate and distinct. The soldiers buried at Arlington, and in unknown tombs around the globe, are Moslems and Jews and Athiests and Hindus and Christians—ALL Amercians. How could a person giving an invocation—or those who asked them to do so, be so insensitive to what we are truly about?

Some will undoubtedly take my remarks as politically correct speech, but this goes much deeper—this goes to the very essence of who we are as a nation. And clearly, many invocations get it—they remain guided by spirit, but do not invoke any specific deity-- or at the very least incorporate some device that allows for a “fill in the blank” notion of the universal. 

When my wife and I were married, we took great pains to translate the seven traditional Jewish wedding prayers into English, with each one translating “God” in a different way; from “the great spirit”, “love” to “the universal energy”, so that each of our guests could know that the “God” we invoke covers all in attendance—no matter your personal beliefs.  Our national Inauguration should do no less to include all Americans. I encourage spirituality of all types, in all people—AND I also look forward to a Presidential Inaugural that truly and exclusively binds us together as Americans, first, foremost, and exclusively.

Authors note: This is NOT a political statement—both parties unfortunately suffer from this affliction.

Jake Ehrenreich is an author, playwright and musician, and has spent the last few years telling his family’s story in the hit show “A Jew Grows In Brooklyn.”

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The inclusion of Jesus is quite common. When I was a young Rabbi, I would complain. I have come to the conclusion that this is a CHRISTIAN COUNTRY and those offering the prayers which include Christ or Jesus , just do not care what the rest of us think. I recently bowed out of the interfaith Holocaust service, because it was a custom to include Hatikvah at the end, but now some Christian groups object as they support the Palestinians and the Muslim Imams would either sit or leave during the Hatikvah. Perhaps interfaith Holocaust programs no longer make sense, at least to me. I do not need the stress of seeing disrespect being afforded to Israel and nor do I wish to compromise by leaving Hatikvah out. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG, CHILD OF Holocaust survivors and a refugee born in a D.P. camp.

You say you feel excluded as a non-Christian and express your love for the ideals expressed in America's founding documents. Wonderful. But you ARE a Jew! And the One Who Created you and gives you life with every breath you take, has given you a Land where you have a birthright and can at any moment claim your piece. Founding documents? Inspiring words. I bless you to take pride and possession of the original Founding documents that inspired Christians some 3500 years later: The Torah! Of course you feel excluded. America wasn't created for you. It was created for Christians. When you speak of Americas immigrant history, remember that no Christian anticipated or planned and hoped for Jewish immigration. Once so many arrived and the Christian took notice, they implemented quotas to limit Jewish immigration. Come home and discover the awesome 'feeling' that emerges when a Jew can be an infinitely more complete and fulfilled image that his Creator had for him when He created him. Come home and join us not in American Dream come true, but rather, the Creator's Dream come true. Why settle for a johnny-come-very-lately dream that was never designed for you? Why not be an original in the ultimate Land of originality and help make it better.

I wholeheartedly agree with both writers. How many individuals have no home, no job and definitely no 'personal protection' (security guards) ever. Also, look at the 'royalty' around the globe who do little/nothing to earn the pompous way they live all at the expense of the lowly, hard working, over taxed individuals. These egotistical, 'high-profile' individuals do not earn/deserve the esteem/lifestyle they so greedily demand and accept. They, too, are only 'mere mortals'.

Besdies excluding those who do not believe that "Christ, (is) our Lord", it should be noted that Ever-Williams' invocation excluded the phrase "under G-d" when she referred to the Pledge of Allegiance: "of one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all".

As a Christian American that appreciates and respects our American Heritage and our Christian Foundation it is just as important for Christians in America to hear from our so called political leaders that this nation is still founded "Under God" and with "Faith in God", just as the Jewish Nation respect and honors there religion or faith. It is just as important for the United States to honor and respect our country's faith in Jesus Christ. At the same time follow the light that Israel is shinning for the whole world, it is not a balancing game as long as we believe in the same "One True God". Israel is the land of His love, it is the land of His chosen people and nation or country today must understand this promise from the Heavenly Father.
We need the light from Israel to show us the way in the dark, and presently sadly speaking the darkness is winning in America. Shalom Israel

I think this is a very inspiring thought. On top of that, I would like to add one more thought to it. What if we take religion out of this all together? What if we leave religion as a personal relationship, between you, and whom ever you want to believe in,and worship? Jew, Muslim, Christian or all others ? Religion, has proven it self as a needed factor in humans lives, but also religion fanaticism, has played a very costly toll on our peace and human suffering. I agree, imposing ones will, over others, is a very destructive and depressing matter. A country that is based on one religion, is a threat to it self and to others. It might be doomed in the end for failer.

The inauguration was further marred, not surprisingly, when, after BHO talked about the millions of Americans who were suffering, he and the gang had a fancy and expensive lunch featuring lobster and bison. Shame on them.

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