Date of Prayer: 14 June 1988
Sponsor: Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA)
Rep. Wolf: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to welcome to the House of Representatives Rabbi Laszlo Berkowits, who offered our prayer today. Rabbi Berkowits lives in the 10th District of Virginia in Arlington and is Rabbi at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia. Rabbi Berkowits is celebrating his 25th year in the pulpit of Temple Rodef Shalom and Iam pleased that he can share his thoughts with us today in our opening prayer.Twenty-five years is an admirable accomplishment. It has come to my attention that Rabbi Berkowits has celebrated over 1,000 bar-bat mitzvahs, 500 brisses and baby namings, 200 weddings, 25 confirmations, and 25 years of leading his congregation through both happy and trying times. This would be a lifetime of activities to rest on, however, Rabbi Berkowits continues to be an active part of his community partially spurred by his experiences in Europe as a survivor of the Holocaust. As a concentration camp prisoner at the end of the war Rabbi Berkowits was moved from Budapest to the infamous Auschwitz camp, then as the allies advanced on Hitler’s army he was moved to Ravensburg and finally to Wobbelin where he was liberated by United States 82d Airborne troops. Rabbi Berkowits’ journey to northern Virginia is a truly remarkable story and is an example of the perseverance and unity the Jewish people have exhibited in pulling themselves from under the repressions and atrocities of World War II. I celebrate with Rabbi Berkowits and his congregation in his 25th year in northern Virginia, I welcome him to the House of Representatives and I thank him for opening our session today in prayer. In the prayer, this being Flag Day, Rabbi Berkowits mentioned the American flag. Rabbi Berkowits says that when he was liberated by the 82d Airborne, the first thing that he saw was the American flag, and that is what is specially meaningful, that the rabbi is giving the prayer here today on Flag Day.
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O Lord of the Universe, Author of Freedom,
our hearts are filled with thanksgiving
on this day dedicated to honor the Stars and Stripes,
the flag of our beloved country.
This flag has been, ever since its creation,
a symbol of hope for the oppressed,
a banner of liberty
for the enslaved
yearning to be free.
To this very day
this precious symbol of free men and women
stirs the hearts of our countrymen
to deeds of valor and sacrifice
as it did for the generations who came before us.
For it is the banner of freedom,
the proud flag of the liberators.
Wherever it is raised and unfurled,
it heralds the sacred message:
“Proclaim liberty throughout the land
to all the inhabitants thereof.” (Leviticus 25:10)
O, may it long wave to the joy of our country
and for freedom everywhere.
“Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Laszlo Berkowits on 14 June 1988” is shared through the Open Siddur Project with a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 Universal license.
Works of related interest:
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Arnold Mark Belzer on 20 April 1988
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom on 4 May 1988
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt on 25 May 1988
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Rachel S. Mikva on 8 March 1995
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Toby H. Manewith on 5 March 1998
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Arthur Schneier on 8 May 1990