Date of Prayer: 13 September 1990
Sponsor: Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY)
Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank Dr. Ford for permitting Rabbi Jay Marcus to lead the House of Representatives in prayer this morning.
Mr. Speaker, for the past twenty years, Rabbi Marcus has distinguished himself as an exemplary community leader, and as the dynamic spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Staten Island.
In addition, for the past seven years, Rabbi Marcus has been the teacher and confidant of a number of our colleagues and their families. Under the sponsorship of the Genesis Foundation, Rabbi Marcus has conducted a semimonthly congressional Bible class. Over the years, about thirty of our current and former colleagues, as well as members of their families have participated in these classes. Rabbi Marcus’ class has been a shining light in our busy schedules. His ability to integrate the value of our tradition along with the sublime nature of today’s current events has been a beacon of inspiration to all those present to hear his words.
So, it is bittersweet that Rabbi Jay has been awarded a deserved one year sabbatical by his congregation. On the one hand, this sabbatical will enable Rabbi Marcus to recharge his batteries and expand his already broad horizons. Yet, on the other hand, his congressional students will miss hearing his inspirational words. Mr. Speaker, Rabbi Marcus is not only my teacher, but also my dear friend. On behalf of his loyal congressional students, I wish him only the best during his sabbatical in Israel.
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As we approach the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, we are challenged to look back at the year gone by. We are astounded at the cataclysmic changes and events that have transpired. What a remarkably momentous year.
We have witnessed the demise of communism and the budding of democracy in Eastern Europe, the shattering of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, the mass emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union to America and Israel and the ugly rise of anti-Semitism in Russia and Eastern Europe, the continued emigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel and Iraq’s tragic invasion of Kuwait, the unprecedented economic blockade and military collaboration among the great powers and the Arab States.
How does one make sense of these events? What do they mean for the individual, for America and the world? We would posit that they are manifestations of God’s hand in history. We cannot discern its direction, but we must believe that it is leading the nations of the world, and its people, toward an accommodation of differences, universal morality and an abiding peace. This belief is reinforced in the high holiday prayers.
On Rosh Hashanah we read:
Now, Lord our God,
put Your awe upon all whom You have made,
Your dread upon all whom You have created;
let Your works revere You,
let all Your creatures worship You;
may they all blend into one brotherhood
to do Your will with a perfect heart.
For we know, Lord our God,
that Yours is dominion, power and might,
You are revered above all that You have created.
This prayer expresses the ideal of universal brotherhood and universal morality under the eyes of the universal God. Mankind is unable to solve all its problems alone.
Yesterday in New York major philanthropists overnight became paupers as the Japanese banks foreclosed on forty-three major real estate buildings. Overnight magnates of real estate have been broken.
During these days of awe we realize that man’s quest for power, and dominion and acts of aggression are puny, misguided and doomed to failure. We ask G-d that wickedness vanish like the smoke and to abolish the rule of tyranny on Earth. This is our dream, this is our hope, this is our prayer.
A moving story is told of an elderly Jewish woman who at the conclusion of the Rosh Hashanah service finds herself all alone with no one to exchange the customary Shanah Tova, or good year, blessing. She reflects for a moment, and then steps to the front of the sanctuary and opens the ark. “I know who to wish a Shanah Tova, a good year,” she says. “I’ll wish God a good year, but what can I wish Him? He has everything,” and she smiles sweetly, looking at the ark and the Torah. “God, I wish You nachas, joy, satisfaction and pleasure from all Your children, from all of mankind.”
“Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Jay Marcus on 13 September 1990” 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 Edward Paul Cohn on 13 September 1989
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Barry Tabachnikoff on 24 April 1990
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Arthur Schneier on 8 May 1990
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi David Saltzman on 6 September 1990
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Irving Spielman on 12 September 1990
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Joshua O. Haberman on 4 June 1985
Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Stuart L. Berman on 18 June 1986