Exact matches only
//  Main  //  Menu

☰︎ Menu | 🔍︎ Search  //  Main  //   🖖︎ Prayers & Praxes   //   🌍︎ Collective Welfare   //   Sovereign States & Meta-national Organizations   //   Opening Prayers for Legislative Bodies   //   Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Haim Kemelman on 25 February 1971

Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Haim Kemelman on 25 February 1971

Guest Chaplain: Rabbi Haim Kemelman, the Jewish Center, East Brunswick, New Jersey
Sponsor: Rep. Edward J. Patten (D-NJ)
Date of Prayer: 25 February 1971

Mr. PATTEN. Mr. Speaker, today we had the pleasure of hearing Rabbi Haim Kemelman, of East Brunswick, New Jersey, deliver the opening prayer.

Rabbi Kemelman is the spiritual leader of the East Brunswick, N.J., Jewish Center, a congregation which is really beautiful. He is the author of a book, How To Live in the Present Tense, and also writes a weekly article, “Lines on Living,” in many newspapers.

His book and articles really help bring about an optimistic outlook on life. They are full of not only rare eloquence, but great wisdom as well. He has profound faith in the goodness of man and has great compassion and love for people. After reading Rabbi Kemelman’s articles and his book, one cannot help but feel better about many things, for his understanding of people and their problems and hopes is deep and magnificent.

How wonderful it would be if all of our people were as good Americans as Rabbi Kemelman, and loved this country and its institutions as much as he does. Mr. Speaker, I think that Rabbi Kemelman is truly great.


Contribute a translationSource (English)
O God, bless this House,
for here democracy is made to work.
Here, votes are counted,
but ideas count;
Here, the majority rules,
but the voice of the people overrules;
Here, history is lived
and the future is perceived.
Here, free men ask: “Why?”
and noble men dream: “Why not?”
Here we pray
that God shed His grace
upon this dome,
under His heavens,
and inspire our representative leaders
to unite us in a moving dream
so that we may move forward
from our Apollo-moon project
to an Apollo-man project:
to banish dread disease;
to conquer the dark craters of the mind;
to heal bruised hearts;
to master the inner space of man for peace in trust-power,
as we have mastered the outer space of the moon with thrust-power;
to see a new heart-rise of man,
as we have seen a new earth-rise from the moon.
For Thine is the kingdom on this earth;
and ours is the power to establish it in our midst,
and the glory to recognize
that it is more important
to bring heaven down to earth
than to bring man up to heaven.
God bless America.
God bless the American dream.

This prayer of the guest chaplain was offered in the second month of the second session of the 92nd US Congress in the House of Representatives, and published in the Congressional Record, vol. 117, part 3 (1971), page 3832. Earlier that month on 17 February, Representative Patten had read into the Congressional Record a letter of Rabbi Kemelman from the rabbi’s weekly columun,[1] Congressional Record, vol. 117, part 3 (1971), page 2932.  which introduced many of the themes referenced in this prayer.

Wednesday, February 17, 1971

Mr. PATTEN, Mr. Speaker, one of my constituents, Rabbi Haim Kemelman, of the East Brunswick, N.J., Jewish Center, is the author of a column in the Home News, of New Brunswick, N.J., called Lines on Living.

Rabbi Kemelman is not only a widely respected Rabbi; he is also a very talented writer—a man who writes with great feeling and eloquence. Following President Nixon’s state of the Union address, Rabbi Kemelman, in stirring words and thoughts, included “A Letter to the President” in his column of Friday, February 5, 1971.

Also the author of a recent book called, How to Live in the Present Tense, Rabbi Kemelman praised the address of the President and I would like to insert it in the Congressional Record, because I am proud of the brilliance of my beloved constituent—a man of deep compassion and love for people:

(By Rabbi Haim Kemelman)

Dear Mr. President, congratulations! Congratulations from a citizen who heard you make a wonderful, I might say revolutionary, dreamy speech in your State of the Union message.

Yes, it was a great and soaring speech, and I liked it, because it spoke of a dream, of an “open door,” and of “the need to press open the door of full and equal opportunity, and of human dignity,” toward the fulfillment of the American dream.

Yes, it was a reyolutionary speech because dreams are revolutionary; splendid and outsoaring in every way. And this, to me, is America: a dreamy country, and therefore, not Russia, not China. Because there, the revolution is quoted, the revolution is idolized, the revolution 1s fossilized and buried in a dead mausoleum of the past. Here, revolution is lived. but also outlived. Because the American revolution is the American dream. And a dream is only good for one night. For the dream of yesterday can be tonight’s nightmare. Dreams change with the size of our visions, one dream begetting smother.

I therefore liked, Mr. President, when you spoke of “a New American Revolution—a peaceful revolution in which power was turned back to the people. . .” That’s a pretty good start. Because there can be no greater power for the people than the capacity to dream. And when you, spoke of “these troubled years” of “a long nightmare of war and division, of crime and inflation . . . dark of the American spirit,” and the need “for the lift of a driving dream,” you turned back to the people great power. We can dream again, we can see visions, we can grow in health as in wealth.

Mr. President, I don’t know much about digits and budgets and bureaus and revenues. But I know a dream when I see one. And I know it’s here, not because I’m certain of its realization, but because we now come closer to confront dream’s greatest test, as defined by George Bernard Shaw: “You see things and you say ‘why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘why not?’”

Thank you, Mr. President, for saying to us “Why not?”

Good and honest people will argue as to whether this dream of yours is the most perfect dream for all the people, whether it can be realized at all. And that’s very important. But more important is the spirit in which the dream was conceived. And now that the dream is born let’s give it a chance to live.

“Bring us together,” said that pretty girl to you, not very long ago, Mr. President. Today the opportunity is here, perhaps as at no better time. We have bled externally in far away jungles, We have bled internally in nearby cities. We have drifted from one another, from our children, from our dreams. Let the dream unite us, again; to “bring us together,” again; to reconcile us with our beautiful land, again; to “close the gap between promise and performance,” again— to “let our spirits soar again.”

And again we shall go from dream to bolder dream, from vision to outsoaring vision, in this land of “sea to shining sea.” For the lift of the spirit and the lift of the dream can unite us—never again to stop dreaming.

And, in your eye’s vision you see a new revolution of priorities where man seeks not so much the heaven of a moon but the heaven of man, not the dust of ages but the dust of the living cell and soul. “Why not?”

Why not a multibillion “Apollo man project” for a decade of research to land man
on his humanity; to pore over the dust of his mortality, as he peeks into the grain of
moon dust; to know more about human disease, malignancy and malevolent death. Why
not? What’s the price of moon dust—$30 billion! And what’s the price of man dust—a March of Dimes!

Dream: “Why not?” See visions: “Why not?” When? Now! Like the child who was awakened from his deep sleep, echoing the trauma of crying babies and weeping idealists, we too say in Lincoln Steffens’ words: “I have lost my place in my dream.” For a time, in “a long, dark night of the “American spirit,” we have lost our place in our dream. Now, Mr. President, you say you have found that place for us in our dream. We are ready, for the, lift-off—“we are ready for the lift of a driving dream.”

Prayerfully and respectfully yours,


Congressional Record, vol. 117, part 3 (25 February 1971), p. 3832

Congressional Record, vol. 117, part 3, (17 February 1971), p. 2932



1Congressional Record, vol. 117, part 3 (1971), page 2932.



Comments, Corrections, and Queries