Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett posted on his office’s official Twitter account an image of himself donning tefillin (phylacteries) and tzitzit (fringes on a four cornered garment) in his hotel room before meeting with US President Joe Biden. Both are commanded for Jewish men in the Torah.
ראש הממשלה נפתלי בנט פתח את הבוקר בוושינגטון, ארה”ב. pic.twitter.com/BmSu8BkZlO
— ראש ממשלת ישראל (@IsraeliPM_heb) August 25, 2021
He was photographed reciting the Shema prayer which involves placing your right hand over your eyes while reciting a passage in Deuteronomy:
Hear, O Yisrael! Hashem is our God, Hashem alone.(Deuteronomy 6:4)
The image, which went viral, received mixed feedback from users on social media in Israel. Some called it a sinister PR stunt while others saw it as a sanctification of God’s name.
The image is unprecedented as no other Israeli Prime Minister has publicly showcased themselves praying while wearing tfillin and tzitzit…certainly not during a trip abroad.
Bennett is Israel’s first Prime Minister to wear a yarmulke at all times and considers himself to be observant.