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Making History in Denver

Democrat Barack Obama is set tonight to make history by becoming the first African-American presidential nominee of a major political party.

Hours earlier Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, will do his part to make history as the first rabbi to deliver the invocation on the night of a nominee’s acceptance speech.

Saperstein will take the stage at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium sometime between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Senior Obama campaign officials and Jewish communal leaders say it was no accident that a rabbi was asked to do the invocation. The campaign has made a big push to win over Jewish voters and also appear religiously inclusive.

When we asked for a preview of his message, Saperstein promised to send us a text message at 3 a.m. just as Obama’s campaign did to announce his vice presidential running-mate selection.

“I’m still working on what to say and I probably will until the last minute,” he said earlier in the week.

As for the theme or message, he promised it won’t be long.

Invocations traditionally have been used for two primary purposes: To raise the great moral issues that political leaders need to deal with. And to ask God’s guidance for those who have been charged with responsibilities.

Saperstein said he is “amazingly honored” and “particularly humbled” given what he described as the great leaders of American Jewish and Christian leadership that have been asked to give past benedictions.

In case you’re interested in other highlights of tonight’s convention program:

Bruce Springsteen is rumored to be a surprise performer and apparently has an opening on his schedule.

Evangelical megachurch pastor Joel Hunter delivers the closing prayer.

Fresh off her medal-winning performances in Beijiing, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson will lead the pledge of allegiance.

Academy award-winning singer, Broadway performer and former American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson will perform that national anthem.

Other performances include Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder and Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas.

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