Rabbi Marvin Hier, a prominent California rabbi and founder of the influential Simon Wiesenthal Center, will bless Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration ceremony with a Jewish prayer on January 20.
Rabbi Hier will join five other faith leaders for the ceremony. He plans to give a reading, recite an original prayer, and bless both Trump and future Vice President Mike Pence with individual benedictions.
The rabbi told press he was “honored” by the Inaugural Committee’s invitation, which was likely connected to his close personal relationship with the family of Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Along with joining Rabbi Hier for religious ceremonies like Passover seders, the Kushners have donated over $35,000 to the Hier’s Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), a Jewish NGO committed to fighting anti-Semitism and intolerance and violence against Jews. The center is named for famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
The choice of Rabbi Hier as an inaugural honoree will likely ruffle liberal feathers, as the SWC recently named President Barack Obama’s failure to veto a recent UN resolution condemning construction in Judea and Samaria as the number one most anti-Semitic/anti-Israel incident of 2016 in its annual list.
He will be the first rabbi to pray at a presidential inauguration since Ronald Reagan was sworn into office in 1985.
In the face of some criticism from the Jewish community, the rabbi declared that it is in the best interest of all Americans to “pray and hope that Donald Trump is a great president.” He emphasized the coming together of previous Trump critics and political rivals at the inauguration as evidence that all should direct their prayers towards the incoming leader’s success.
The other five prayer leaders joining Hier at the inauguration are all of the Christian faith. Participants include Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York; Reverend Franklin Graham, a prominent Evangelist; Reverend Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Pastor Paula White of New Destiny Christian Center; and Bishop Wayne Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International.