Two rabbis spoke at the inaugural prayer service on Jan. 20. President Biden, first lady Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff all participated the virtual event.
Rabbi Sharon Brous, the senior rabbi of Los Angeles-based IKAR, offered the following prayer:
Makor haHayim, Holy One, we stand before you in this moment full of pain and full of promise.
In the midst of pandemic, in the shadow of violent insurrection, we lift up the ancient Jewish promise that after the long night of suffering, a redemptive dawn will come: yeridah l’tzorekh aliyah.
We stand now at the inflection point between that tearful night and the joyous, new day.
Give us strength, God, as we usher in the dawn of a new America, a justice-driven, multiracial democracy.
A new America, that lifts up the poor and protects those most vulnerable.
Help us, today, to imagine a new America, that leaves behind the fallacy of profit over people, and instead affirms that every one of us deserves to live in full dignity.A new America, built on the recognition that we are all part of an invisible web of humanity, that we belong to one another. That our highest calling as a nation is the sacred responsibility of caring for one another.
A new America, rooted in a shared commitment to healing, protecting and sustaining the earth.
A new America, that finally abolishes the heresy of white supremacy and enlists all of us in dismantling racism and lifting up a theology of radical equality.
A new America, built on love, rooted in justice and propelled by our moral imagination.
Together, we rise to meet this new dawn, to birth a new America. Together, we affirm that the only way to heal is to tell the truth. Together, we reckon with our past, and we lay the foundation for a more just future.
Holy One, we ask you to protect President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and strengthen their resolve as they lead us in rebuilding this nation with love. For after the long night of suffering, a redemptive dawn is near.
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, the senior rabbi of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York, read from Deuteronomy 10:17-21: “For the Holy One your God is eternal and supreme, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who shows no favor and takes no bribe, but upholds the cause of the orphan and the widow, and befriends the stranger, providing those who need with food and clothing. You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You must revere and honor the Holy One your God: only God shall you worship, to God shall you hold fast, and by the name of the Holy One shall you swear. God is your glory and the one who wrought for you those marvelous, awesome deeds that you saw with your own eyes.”
Watch the entire service here: