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An Alternative Inaugural Prayer From the National Synagogue’s Rabbi

Shmuel Herzfeld, the rabbi of Washington’s oldest synagogue, Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue, offers a new inauguration prayer.

Dear God:

Please give the president the wisdom and courage to guide the United States with fairness and kindness, and to help keep all of us safe and secure.

Please protect us from violence and war and economic recession.

Please protect all of us who live in this country, and especially the most vulnerable among us to the winds of hatred.

Please extend Your hand and guard all those who worship You in peace, and support all those who worship You according to any faith that is not the majority faith of our country, like Jews and Muslims.

Please extend Your protection to those who are too often denied basic human rights on account of their skin color — especially to our African-American brothers and sisters.

Please shelter all our neighbors under the wings of Your shield, and offer refuge to all who need it— specifically to undocumented residents.

Please protect from ridicule and isolation those who have physical differences.

Please protect the women in our country from lecherous and abusive men.

Please protect all of us from bullying and emotional intimidation.

Please protect all of us, but especially our children, from being led astray by those who model improper behavior.

Please give our elected officials the courage and the strength to lead with moral clarity and wisdom.

Please give all of us the strength to remember that while the president of the United States is a powerful man, there is something even more powerful: our moral conscience.

When we come in Your name, when we speak truth to power, then it is we the people who are powerful.

Please give us the internal strength to face down these challenges and remain true to our inner core.

And may it be so!

Since 2004, Shmuel Herzfeld has been the rabbi of Ohev Sholom —The National Synagogue, the oldest Orthodox synagogue in Washington, D.C. He is the author of five books, including “Renewal: Inspirational Lessons of Rosh Hashanah”(Gefen Publishing House, 2015).

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