☞   //   Prayers & Praxes   //   Collective Welfare   //   Sovereign Nations & States   //   Elections & Voting

Invocation by Rabbi David Saperstein at the Democratic National Convention (2008)

Contribute a translation Source (English)

Let me ask us to bow our heads in reflection.

Eternal God,
you ennoble our lives by empowering us
to do your work here on Earth
in creating a world of justice
and peace for all.

We pray for America
that it may ever be an ohr lagoyim[1] cf. Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 49:6, Isaiah 60:3. 
a light unto the nations —
a beacon of freedom,
human rights,
and economic opportunity,
the protector of this precious Earth
which you have entrusted to our care.

May your name be invoked
only to inspire and unify our nation,
but never to divide it.

We ask your blessing
on all the leaders of our nation
that they may lead wisely and with civility,
work together for the common good.
And we ask especially
that you deal with that mighty guardian
of the contemporary American conscience,
Edward Kennedy.[2] A reference to the grim health status of Ted Kennedy at the time. From his Wikipedia article: “On May 17, 2008, Kennedy suffered a seizure, which was followed by a second seizure as he was being rushed from the Kennedy Compound to Cape Cod Hospital and then by helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Within days, doctors announced that Kennedy had a malignant glioma, a type of cancerous brain tumor. The grim diagnosis brought reactions of shock and prayer from many senators of both parties and from President Bush. Doctors initially informed Kennedy that the tumor was inoperable, but Kennedy followed standard procedure and sought other opinions. He decided to follow the most aggressive and exhausting course of treatment possible. On June 2, 2008, Kennedy underwent brain surgery at Duke University Medical Center in an attempt to remove as much of the tumor as possible. The 3½-hour operation—conducted by Dr. Allan Friedman while Kennedy was conscious to minimize any permanent neurological effects—was deemed successful in its goals. Kennedy left the hospital a week later to begin a course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Opinions varied regarding Kennedy’s prognosis: the surgery typically extends survival time for only a few months, but people can sometimes live for years. The operation and follow-up treatments left Kennedy thinner, prone to additional seizures, weak and short on energy, and hurt his balance. Kennedy made his first post-illness public appearance on July 9, when he surprised the Senate by showing up to supply the added vote to break a Republican filibuster against a bill to preserve Medicare fees for doctors. In addition, Kennedy was ill from an attack of kidney stones. Against the advice of some associates, he insisted on appearing during the first night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention on August 25, 2008, where a video tribute to him was played. Introduced by his niece Caroline Kennedy, the senator said, “It is so wonderful to be here. Nothing – nothing – is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.” He then delivered a speech to the delegates (which he had to memorize, as his impaired vision left him unable to read a teleprompter) in which, reminiscent of his speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, he said, ‘this November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. So, with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.’ The dramatic appearance and speech electrified the convention audience, as Kennedy vowed that he would be present to see Obama inaugurated.” 

We ask
that you send your blessing
on Joseph Biden,
and now on this historic day,
upon Barack Obama
as candidate for the highest political office in our nation.
Guide him that he may ever be a champion for justice.

These things we ask of you, eternal God,
in the sunshine of renewed dreams
committed that the torch of hope shall pass
from head to head,
from heart to heart,
until the radiance of peace and righteousness
for all God’s children
shines to the ends of the Earth.
Amen.

This is the full text of Rabbi David Saperstein’s invocation offered on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, August 8th, 2008, corrected from the closed-captions feed offered by C-SPAN.

Source(s)

 

Notes

Notes
1 cf. Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 49:6, Isaiah 60:3.
2 A reference to the grim health status of Ted Kennedy at the time. From his Wikipedia article: “On May 17, 2008, Kennedy suffered a seizure, which was followed by a second seizure as he was being rushed from the Kennedy Compound to Cape Cod Hospital and then by helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Within days, doctors announced that Kennedy had a malignant glioma, a type of cancerous brain tumor. The grim diagnosis brought reactions of shock and prayer from many senators of both parties and from President Bush. Doctors initially informed Kennedy that the tumor was inoperable, but Kennedy followed standard procedure and sought other opinions. He decided to follow the most aggressive and exhausting course of treatment possible. On June 2, 2008, Kennedy underwent brain surgery at Duke University Medical Center in an attempt to remove as much of the tumor as possible. The 3½-hour operation—conducted by Dr. Allan Friedman while Kennedy was conscious to minimize any permanent neurological effects—was deemed successful in its goals. Kennedy left the hospital a week later to begin a course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Opinions varied regarding Kennedy’s prognosis: the surgery typically extends survival time for only a few months, but people can sometimes live for years. The operation and follow-up treatments left Kennedy thinner, prone to additional seizures, weak and short on energy, and hurt his balance. Kennedy made his first post-illness public appearance on July 9, when he surprised the Senate by showing up to supply the added vote to break a Republican filibuster against a bill to preserve Medicare fees for doctors. In addition, Kennedy was ill from an attack of kidney stones. Against the advice of some associates, he insisted on appearing during the first night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention on August 25, 2008, where a video tribute to him was played. Introduced by his niece Caroline Kennedy, the senator said, “It is so wonderful to be here. Nothing – nothing – is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.” He then delivered a speech to the delegates (which he had to memorize, as his impaired vision left him unable to read a teleprompter) in which, reminiscent of his speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, he said, ‘this November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. So, with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.’ The dramatic appearance and speech electrified the convention audience, as Kennedy vowed that he would be present to see Obama inaugurated.”

 PDF (or Print)

 
 
 

 

Comments, Corrections, and Queries