By Lee Chottiner
“I’m a slow walker, but I never walk backward.”
— Abraham Lincoln
Three hours before Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, and Kamala Harris as Vice President, Louisville Jewish leaders contributed to the process of national healing that promises to begin now.
More than 100 people signed on to a Zoom program called Inauguration Day: Hope for Peace. Rabbis, cantors and lay leaders led an uplifting spiritual session meant to unify a small part of the nation after four years of intense division.
The Jewish Federation of Louisville, Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and Louisville Board of Rabbis and Cantors partnered in the program.
“Considering what we have all been through as Americans the last few days, weeks and months, it’s important that we take some time to reflect and renew as we embark on a new beginning regardless politics or party,” said JCRC Chair Beth Salamon. “May the new administration govern with justice and compassion.”
Rabbi Robert Slosberg called January 6, 2021, “a day that we will never forget,” recalling the violent siege at the U.S. Capitol, stoked by false claims of a stolen election.
“The voters have spoken; the Electoral College has spoken; over 60 judges have spoken; the Republican Senate Majority Leader has spoken, and the Congress has spoken,” Slosberg said. “It is time for us to put the election behind us and to move forward as a nation.
For the good of the country, he added, everyone must unite behind President Biden as he grapples with the two crises.
“The COVID-19 vaccinations have got to get into the arms of Americans as soon as possible to stop these senseless deaths [and] our struggling economy must recover to get people back to work, children back to school and businesses back into operation.”
He called for prayers for peace, unity, singleness of purpose the safety of political leaders of both parties…and for President Biden.
“May he draw from our nation’s deep bench of brilliant minds. May his team be diverse and inclusive – Democratic and Republican – to meet our nation’s serious challenges.”
Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport led the Prayer for Peace; Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner, the Prayer for our Country; and Cantor Sharon Hordes, the Prayer for Those Who Serve Our Country.
Cantor David Lipp sang a melody that he said resonates today: “The world is but a narrow bridge, and the essence of crossing it is to do so without fear.”
Hordes sang Oseh Shalom.
Sara Klein Wagner, president and CEO of the Jewish Community of Louisville, drawing from a message from Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America and a former congressman from Ohio, who reflected on ritual in our lives
“This our ritual as American Jews,” Wagner said, “to come together, to gather together and to remember our role and how proud we are to be Americans.”