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Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Nachum David Herman on 7 March 1950

https://opensiddur.org/?p=54582 Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Nachum David Herman on 7 March 1950 2024-03-03 20:02:41 The Opening Prayer given in the U.S. House of Representatives on 7 March 1950. Text the Open Siddur Project Nochum Dovid Herman Nochum Dovid Herman United States Congressional Record https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Nochum Dovid Herman https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ Opening Prayers for Legislative Bodies United States of America 20th century C.E. תחינות teḥinot 58th century A.M. English vernacular prayer U.S. House of Representatives Prayers of Guest Chaplains Cold War (1947–1953) anti-communist 81st Congress
Guest Chaplain: Rabbi Nachum David Herman, Congregation Tifereth Israel, Brooklyn, New York
Sponsor: Rep. Louis B. Heller (D-NY)
Date of Prayer: 7 March 1950


Contribute a translationSource (English)
Almighty God,
we beseech Thee
that Thou wilt make this moment of devotion
integrant of Thy mercy and benevolence,
betrothed only to Thy grace.
We come to Thee
with burdens on our minds,
and hearts saturated
with haunting fears of a peace lost
and a war hovering about;
with deep anxiety over the future of our children
in a world trembling on the side of chaos;
a world moving rapidly downward
into the anarchy of a ghastly morrow
that may sweep like a tidal wave
out of the impenitent evil of totalitarianism.
O Heavenly Father,
open Thou our eyes
so that we may see the duty
that rests upon us
in this hour.
Clear Thou
from our hearts
the self-righteousness
that would blind us
to our own failings.
Make us to understand
that we, too,
by our own default,
were responsible for the infamous carnage
that was inflicted on the People of the Book,
and our responsibility for the weakening of the peace
that permitted the bloody holocaust of communism
to rise in high places of mankind.
Strengthen Thou our souls,
so that we will now rise to our full duty
and press forward to bring the fruits of Thy glory
to the foot of the altar of a new covenant of justice and peace,
for in Thy kingdom in the power and might of Thy abode,
we will find the wisdom to combat evil and atheism.
who hast created men in Thine own image,[1] Cf. Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 5:1. 
guard us against prejudice and discrimination
against the maltreatment of our fellow men
because of race, color,
or the manner in which we worship Thee.
“Have we not all one Father?
Hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10).
Grant us grace
fearlessly to contest bane wickedness
and to make no peace with oppression
in our land or elsewhere.
This, the month of Adar on the Hebrew calendar,
commemorates the deliverance of the Jews of Persia
from the hands of Haman;
let us strengthen our bonds with God
and pray that He deliver mankind
from the Hamans of our days.
May He instill in the hearts of this legislative body,
all the elements that make democracy
God’s chosen instrument
against the forces, sub rosa and stridulous,[2] i.e., forces covert and overt. 
which are bent upon the enslavement of mankind.
May He feed the hearts
and train the minds of our lawmakers
who legislate His will.

This prayer of the guest chaplain was offered in the second month of the second session of the 81st US Congress in the House of Representatives, and published in the Congressional Record, vol. 96, part 3 (1950), page 2947. The Jewish Telegraphic agency, reporting on the invocation noted that it was the first time that such a prayer had been offered by an “Orthodox” rabbi. As traditionalist rabbis had already been offering prayers before Congress since Rabbi Marcus Jastrow’s prayer before the House of Representatives in 1869, Rabbi Abraham de Sola’s in 1872, and Rabbi Henry Mendes’s prayer before the Senate in 1888 — this JTA note should itself be read in its historical context. As the wikipedia article on “Orthodox Judaism” notes, “Only in the postwar era [in the United States], did the vague traditional coalition come to a definite end [with] a new wave of strictly observant refugees [arriving] from Eastern and Central Europe [during and after the Holocaust].”


Congressional Record, vol. 96, part 3 (7 March 1950), p. 2947



1Cf. Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 5:1.
2i.e., forces covert and overt.



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