תפילה לשלום המלכות | Prayer for the Welfare of George Washington, George Clinton, and the 13 States of America by Hendla Jochanan van Oettingen (1784)

Prayers recited on special occasions and thus not part of the fixed liturgy offered America’s foremost Jewish congregation far greater latitude for originality in prayer. At such services, particularly when the prayers were delivered in English and written with the knowledge that non-Jews would hear them, leaders of Shearith Israel often dispensed with the traditional prayer for the government and substituted revealing new compositions appropriate to the concerns of the day. A prayer composed in 1784 (in this case in Hebrew) by the otherwise unknown Rabbi (Cantor?) Hendla Jochanan van Oettingen, for example, thanked God who “in His goodness prospered our warfare.” Mentioning by name both Governor George Clinton and General George Washington, the rabbi prayed for peace and offered a restorationist Jewish twist on the popular idea of America as “redeemer nation”: “As Thou hast granted to these thirteen states of America everlasting freedom,” he declared, “so mayst Thou bring us forth once again from bondage into freedom and mayst Thou sound the great horn for our freedom.” . . .

Prayer for the Centennial of the Inauguration of George Washington, by Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Joseph (1889)

The proclamation and prayer of chief rabbi Yaakov Yosef Joseph, on the centennial of President George Washington’s Inauguration . . .

Prayer for the Government in honor of George Washington, First President of the United States of America by K.K. Beit Shalome (1789)

The following prayer for the government was composed by Congregation Beth Shalome in Richmond, Virginia in 1789. Please note the acrostic portion of the prayer in which the initial letters of the succeeding lines form the name: Washington. . . .

Memorial Prayer for Abraham Lincoln by Isaac Goldstein the Levite (1865)

Exalted are you Lincoln. Who is like you! You were highly respected among Kings and Princes. All that you accomplished you did with a humble spirit. You are singular and cannot be compared to anyone else. Who among the great are like Lincoln? Who can be praised like you? . . .


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