(JTA) — Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is slated to become the first non-Israeli to light a torch during Israel’s main Independence Day ceremony in Jerusalem.
Hier, who in January delivered a prayer during the inauguration of President Donald Trump in Washington D.C., is one of three individuals selected for the honor by Israel’s culture ministry, the Calcalist financial supplement of the Yedioth Acharonoth daily on Friday reported.
Culture Minister Miri Regev decided last year to include non-Israeli Jews in the Independence Day torch lighting. Their participation would symbolize the stake that Jewish people all over the world have in the Jewish state, she said.
This year’s theme for the ceremony is “Jerusalem – the Eternal Capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish People.”
During his 2-minut prayer at the inauguration, Hier recited the Psalm 137 passage reading: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. The doer of all these shall never falter.”
Another honoree this year at the ceremony is said to be Amnon Shashua, a computer science professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and cofounder and the Mobileye and OrCam startups.
Yehoram Gaon, a Jerusalem-born singer and actor, reportedly is the third honoree this year.
The official list of torch lighters is scheduled to be published next week following its final approval by the selection committee, Calcalist reported.