web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Rabbis Tweak Inaugural Readings to Make them ‘Jewier’

Gina Campbell, the cathedral’s director of worship, “encouraged all the religious leaders to be faithful to their own traditions.”

The Obamas and Bidens during the singing of the National Anthem at the National Cathedral.

The Obamas and Bidens during the singing of the National Anthem at the National Cathedral.
Photo Credit: Donovan Marks / Washington National Cathedral

Preaching to a preacher man – or woman – doesn’t always play out as planned.

That’s the lesson learned this week by officials at the National Cathedral after several clergy, including three rabbis, made impromptu changes to the readings they were given to deliver at a prayer service following the Jan. 22 inauguration of President Obama.

Rabbis Rick Jacobs, Sharon Brous and Julie Schonfeld made changes to the texts they were handed in the hope of making the language “Jewier,” as Brous put it later: more conversational, more forthright and more reflective of the rabbis’ understanding of Jewish theology.

“I wanted to be able to pray with real kavannah [intention] in that moment, so the specific language mattered a lot to me,” Brous, the founder of the independent IKAR congregation in Los Angeles, told JTA in an email. “I worked to find a way to capture the essence of the prayer in a Jewish idiom, to translate the beautiful sentiment into words that would be more personally resonant.”

A spokeswoman for the National Cathedral said the institution had no problem with the changes. Neither did Josh Dubois, the White House’s faith-based initiatives boss, who helped coordinate the event.

Gina Campbell, the cathedral’s director of worship, “encouraged all the religious leaders to be faithful to their own traditions” and to emend texts as they saw fit, said the spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of not being named.

Clergy were assigned readings rather than asked to offer their own because the service was pegged to the inauguration’s theme, Faith in America’s Future, drawn from Abraham Lincoln’s determination 150 years ago to keep the nation united and to expand its liberties to all its people.

“The staff at the cathedral were sensitive about theological language and wanting people to speak in language that was comfortable and authentic,” said Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Jacobs was assigned the recital of the priestly blessing alongside Laila Muhammad, the founder of a Muslim family service organization in Chicago. Muhammad told Jacobs beforehand that she would change “The Lord” in the blessing to “Allah.” Jacobs replied that he, too, would not use “the Lord,” substituting “the Holy One” to reflect the Reform movement’s tendency to abjure gender-specific references to God.

Schonfeld, the executive director of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, had no objection to the translation of a psalm she was assigned. But reciting it without context raised difficult theological questions about human responsibility, especially in the wake of the massacre of schoolchildren last month in Newtown, Conn.

The translation, as assigned by the cathedral, reads in part, “The Lord watches over the innocent.” Schonfeld changed that to “The Lord watches over the innocent and calls upon us to watch over the innocent.”

“God can only watch over the innocent insofar as human beings watch over the innocent,” Schonfeld wrote in notes on her emendations that she shared with JTA.

The services also featured Cantor Mikhail Manevich of Washington Hebrew Congregation, who sang the Shema prayer in Hebrew.

Christian clergy also made adjustments in keeping with their particular religious orientations. The Rev. Nancy Wilson, moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a denomination emphasizing outreach to the LGBT community, replaced five masculine pronouns in her assigned prayer, which opened the service.

The National Cathedral is both an Episcopal seat and a place of worship chartered by the Congress in the 19th century as the natural setting for national events. The church’s website emphasizes that it “welcomes all faiths.”

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Rabbis Tweak Inaugural Readings to Make them ‘Jewier’”

  1. Les Legato says:

    "Clergy were assigned readings rather than asked to offer their own because the service was pegged to the inauguration’s theme,".

    DESTROYING AMERICA'S PROMINENCE IN THE WORLD.

    /fixed it.

    These are fake Jews co-wroshipping with muslims and marxists.

    WTH is this doing in the Jewish Press?

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ebola virus particles.
New York City Hospital Testing Patient for Ebola Virus
Latest News Stories
Ebola virus particles.

A healthcare worker has returned to the US from West Africa suffering with symptoms resulting in testing for the Ebola virus at NYC’s Bellevue Hospital.

Israeli car damaged by rock attack in September 2014. (archive)

Despite PM Netanyahu’s vow to “assert sovereignty” over all parts of Jerusalem, Arabs continue to carry out potentially lethal rock attacks.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat meet with security officials over Oct. 22 terror attack.

Israel’s prime minister and the mayor of Jerusalem met today with security brass over the terror attack that wounded 8 and killed a 3-month-old baby.

An IAF BOEING 707 fueling three F-15 aircraft in flight, facilitating long-range missions, such as those being planned against Iranian nuclear sites.

For the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Boeing Aerospace and Defense has made a sale to Iran.

Syria’s once-lucrative oil wells dissolve under U.S.-led coalition air strikes targeting the ISIS terror organization.

In Lebanon, a man in his 20s suspected of being ill with the Ebola virus has been placed in quarantine at a Beirut hospital.

Israelis of all ages watched in fascination as the Hawaiian-born Japanese-Samoan former sumo star, Konishiki Yasokichi shared his moves during a special workshop for children in Jerusalem.

The Legal Forum for Israel calls on Transportation Minister Katz to amend the law and revoke drivers’ licenses of convicted terrorists.

Kerry still thinks Muslim terror in Israel is different from elsewhere.

This Friday, millions of Jews in 340 cities around the world will be ‘keeping it together.’ The 7th day. Shabbat.

After decades of using diesel-powered locomotives, Israel Railways is going “electric.”

The real news will be when the West wakes up before it won’t be able to wake up.

Were you on the plane? Let us know what really happened.

Terror? Of course not. The Arab driver lost control of his steam shovel after being prematurely shot.

The first intifada began with Ishmael 3,500 years ago and never ended.

More Articles from Ron Kampeas

It’s not yet clear if Nemmouche was acting on orders and, if so, whether the orders came from ISIS.

Capital-Bldg-091214

“The Jewish community is going to have to work harder,” said one veteran official who has worked both as a professional in the Jewish community and a staffer for a Jewish lawmaker.

The disagreements don’t seem to have gone away, despite a cease-fire that appears to be firmly in place.

“On the Hill and with some people with whom I have spoken who are robust Israel supporters, people are concerned if not angry,” one of the staffers, a Democrat, told JTA

President Obama in an April 25 press conference seemed ready to take a break. “There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives,” he said.

Obama himself suggested that a break from the process may be necessary.

But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.

Tensions between Russia and the West are mounting over the Russian military takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, with the United States and European countries threatening to impose sanctions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rabbis-tweak-inaugural-readings-to-make-them-jewier/2013/01/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: