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When Rabbis Bless Congress

The Great American Story of Jewish Prayers on Capitol Hill

«

“[Howard Mortman] offers the first-ever full-length treat­ment of the Jew­ish lead­ers who offered prayers to open ses­sions in both the Sen­ate and the House. With­in the con­text and his­to­ry of the pre­dom­i­nant­ly non-Jew­ish prayers offered by Chris­t­ian guest chap­lains like Romagosa, Mort­man details an exhaus­tive highlight reel of rab­binic offerings. … Stu­dents of Jew­ish his­to­ry, Amer­i­can polit­i­cal his­to­ry, and any­one who would appre­ci­ate amus­ing triv­ia along the lines of the fact that the late Lubav­itch­er Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneer­son has been cit­ed more in Capi­tol Hill prayers than Moses will enjoy this jam-packed and enter­tain­ing chronicle.”

—Stu Halpern, Jewish Book Council

"Mortman not only includes important and amusing anecdotes, but does for rabbis delivering prayers what Bill James did for baseball: His book is loaded with statistics you never thought you needed until you read them: The 613th Jewish prayer in Congress was delivered by a woman rabbi, nearly one-third of the 441 rabbis from over 400 synagogues who opened Congress have been New Yorkers, six rabbis who survived Auschwitz have opened Congress, 10% of the rabbis cite Isaiah, three rabbis didn’t mention God…the stats and facts go on and on. If you want to impress your friends at kiddush or win some bets after Shabbat, this is the book for you."

The Times of Israel

“[A] fascinating volume filled with details—a history book in the truest sense. Every page [reflects] an extraordinary amount of research. … When Rabbis Bless Congress is a valuable resource that should be on every rabbi’s shelf and in every synagogue’s library. … I cannot emphasize enough how impressed I was by the precise details shared here. The author’s passion for the task at hand shines brightly… The book itself serves as a reminder of the Jewish contribution to American democracy and how the Jewish community shares with all Americans a deep and abiding love for basic human values, thereby cherishing diversity and the many gifts that immigrants have brought to these shores. I highly recommend it.”

— Rabbi Sally J. Priesand, American Jewish Archives Journal

"[A] unique publication enriching American Jewish history... [T]he book’s impressive treasure trove collection of a myriad of fascinating and intriguing items with sprinkled humor."

—Rabbi Dr. Israel Zoberman, CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly

“Religion has been a source of unity and strength in America. Our Founders were deeply connected to their faith—from day one. It is fitting that in the first session of the US Senate (in 1789), picking a chaplain to deliver an opening prayer was the first item of business.

Jewish American clergy would not have the honor of delivering an opening prayer in the Senate for another 80 years—in 1870. Now, thanks to Howard Mortman (C-SPAN wasn’t around to record sessions of Congress in those early days), we have a comprehensive and fascinating history of the participation of American Rabbis in this important tradition of opening prayers in both chambers of Congress. Howard Mortman tells us not only about the content of the prayers, but also the many remarkable stories behind the men and women who delivered them.

In studying the prayers of Jews who opened our Legislative Branch of Government, we gain valuable insights into the great events, hopes, fears and dreams of a great people in a great country.”

— Senator Joseph Lieberman

“This is a fascinating peek at the religious undercurrent of America’s history. Combining G-d talk with politics, both topics to be avoided in polite company, Howard Mortman’s perusal of the historical presence of the Chaplain’s prayer in the Halls of Congress is good fodder for interesting conversations among friends. Most readers will be surprised to learn so much about untold congressional history and internal dynamic.”

— Rev. Pat Conroy, S.J., Chaplain, U.S. House of Representatives

“Reading When Rabbis Bless Congress has made me feel connected to other rabbis around the country across lines of denomination, geography, and theology. Howard Mortman situates the reader within history, scripture, and politics, and does so in a conversational voice that makes you feel like you know him. For the student of prayer, this is a book that will expose you to such a variety of it, with incredible context. For the student of politics and history, this is a book that will walk you through our country’s story through the lens of both spirituality and Jewish diversity. Open up this book to satiate your curiosity around this odd juxtaposition of rabbinic blessing and congressional tradition—close it with a deeper understanding of our nation’s Jewish history and thought.”

— Rabbi Hannah Spiro, Hill Havurah

“From the dawn of the Civil War, when the first rabbi delivered a prayer in Congress, until the U.S. Capitol was locked down by a pandemic in 2020, 441 Jewish religious leaders led Congress in prayer. Howard Mortman can tell you how many came from other countries (27); how many were women (14); and how many of the female rabbis wore yarmulkes (half). Moreover, in lyrical prose, with understated humor, and a welcoming teaching style the author explains why it all matters. You don’t have to be Jewish to love this gem of a book—or be a C-SPAN junkie. You only have to be interested in the American story. And When Rabbis Bless Congress will make you care about it even more.”

— Carl M. Cannon, political historian and Washington Bureau Chief, RealClearPolitics

“Howard Mortman’s masterful work introduces us to the rabbis—and I’m honored to be one of them—who have been honored with the invitation to speak truth to power (Truth with a capital “T”) through a prayer in the Capitol, to open a session of Congress. More precisely, these rabbis speak prayer to power, offering brief moments of hope, reflection, inspiration, and perspective. They join clergy representing the diverse faith groups of our nation to challenge our leaders to remember that while party tactics might differ, the goal of Congress should be based on shared dreams:  a better, stronger, safer, more hopeful, more united America—a more perfect union. Their words are reminders that despite all challenges, ‘America has a prayer.’”

—Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff, U.S. Navy Chaplain (Retired)

“Prayers at the commencement of each day’s proceedings in the two chambers of the United States Congress are an enduring, but not uncontested, tradition in American political culture. In When Rabbis Bless Congress, Howard Mortman chronicles the prayers delivered by Jews in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and profiles the rabbis who gave them. This encyclopedic examination of a previously untold story in American history, yields keen insights into American public religion, Jews in America, and the delicate and sometimes controversial interplay between religion and civil government in the nation’s history. Brimming with details about prayer and the chaplaincy on Capitol Hill and engaging anecdotes about congressional traditions and personalities, this book adds an informative chapter to the history of Congress and religion in American civic life.”

—Daniel L. Dreisbach, professor of legal studies, American University, and author of Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers

“If you jump to the conclusion that a book chronicling the history of Jewish invocational prayers in the U.S. Congress would be of little interest to the general public, you are greatly mistaken. Howard Mortman’s extensively researched volume is jam-packed with astonishing facts and enthralling stories. His book is likely to become the final word on this subject. Once you begin to read Mortman’s captivating story of Jewish prayers on Capitol Hill you will not want to put it down.”

—Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and The Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati

“A masterful work of both scholarship and hope, When Rabbis Bless Congress is a must-read for those who study the role of Jews in American civic life and for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of how faith shapes this country. Howard Mortman has given us a meticulously researched and fascinating account of Jewish prayer in one America’s most cherished of institutions, the United States Congress.”

—Ronald S. Lauder, President, World Jewish Congress

“Perusing the painstaking and thoroughly researched work of Howard Mortman, one gets a sense of history and within it the good fortune of the Jewish people. When walking the halls of the US Capitol complex, any American can explore that which came before us and, with G-d’s help, made possible what we have today. And they will better understand how carrying that legacy and protecting it is a vast process which is not easy. Those at the helm of national leadership know they need more than their own power to get the work done.

And so religious leaders are invited to help guide their purpose who, while perhaps not necessarily agreeing on religious matters, do all agree that we are fortunate to have this special opportunity. Within that context, of course, have been Jewish leaders who have brought words of Torah and age-old Jewish tradition to the august Chambers of Congress. I was privileged to be one of them, and the feeling of offering my prayer in such a place was truly special. I always wished that could be shared with the larger public, aside from the Congressional Record.

Howard Mortman’s excellent work makes that possible.”

—Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Executive Vice President of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) and Founder of the Capitol Jewish Forum

“Howard Mortman’s book is a true American treasure. Fascinating from beginning to end, it reminds us of two critical tenets of our unique country. First, our religious roots dig deep into the Jewish faith and traditions. Second, the prayers that have been delivered before the House and Senate are a reaffirmation that our country believes in a higher power to whom we can turn and to whom we must answer for our actions. It is a must read for anyone interested in the rich religious fabric of our nation.”

—Honorable James P. Moore, Jr., Founder and CEO of the Washington Institute for Business, Government and Society and author of One Nation Under God: The History of Prayer in America

"Be sure to check out Howard Mortman's new book, When Rabbis Bless Congress: The Great American Story of Jewish Prayers on Capitol Hill. Extremely interesting and inspirational!"

—Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media


“In When Rabbis Bless Congress: The Great American Story of Jewish Prayers on Capitol Hill, Howard Mortman presents a panoramic view of the book’s titular rabbis, nearly 450 from over 400 different synagogues and Jewish organizations… Mortman, the communications director for the C-SPAN, brings to these rabbis’ invocations a lifetime of journalistic experience and what would seem to be not a little research. Organized descriptively—initially of the rabbis, then by the content of the prayers—this work covers the corpus of rabbinic liturgical appearances before Congress in a way that… seems to present the topic comprehensively.”

– Eric Michael Mazur, Reading Religion

»

Congress opens each session with a prayer offered by a chaplain or guest chaplain. Among the guest chaplains: Rabbis.

This book is about the rabbis. It's an unprecedented examination of 160 years of Jewish prayers delivered in the literal and figurative center of American democracy. Les mer

1668,-
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Congress opens each session with a prayer offered by a chaplain or guest chaplain. Among the guest chaplains: Rabbis.

This book is about the rabbis. It's an unprecedented examination of 160 years of Jewish prayers delivered in the literal and figurative center of American democracy. With exhaustive research written in approachable prose, it uniquely tells the story of over 400 rabbis giving over 600 prayers since the Civil War days-who they are and what they say.

Few written works examine the tradition of prayers in government. This new angle will appeal to students and lovers of American history, Congress, American Jewish history, and religion. It's a welcome, important addition to our understanding of Congress and Jewish contribution to America.

Detaljer

Forlag
Academic Studies Press
Innbinding
Innbundet
Språk
Engelsk
Sider
344
ISBN
9781644693438
Utgivelsesår
2020
Format
23 x 15 cm

Om forfatteren

Howard Mortman is communications director for C-SPAN, the public service providing television coverage of the U.S. Congress. A veteran of Washington, DC media organizations, he has observed Congress from positions at MSNBC, National Journal's Hotline, Broadcasting Board of Governors, and New Media Strategies. He graduated from the University of Maryland and currently resides in McLean, VA.

Anmeldelser

«

“[Howard Mortman] offers the first-ever full-length treat­ment of the Jew­ish lead­ers who offered prayers to open ses­sions in both the Sen­ate and the House. With­in the con­text and his­to­ry of the pre­dom­i­nant­ly non-Jew­ish prayers offered by Chris­t­ian guest chap­lains like Romagosa, Mort­man details an exhaus­tive highlight reel of rab­binic offerings. … Stu­dents of Jew­ish his­to­ry, Amer­i­can polit­i­cal his­to­ry, and any­one who would appre­ci­ate amus­ing triv­ia along the lines of the fact that the late Lubav­itch­er Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneer­son has been cit­ed more in Capi­tol Hill prayers than Moses will enjoy this jam-packed and enter­tain­ing chronicle.”

—Stu Halpern, Jewish Book Council

"Mortman not only includes important and amusing anecdotes, but does for rabbis delivering prayers what Bill James did for baseball: His book is loaded with statistics you never thought you needed until you read them: The 613th Jewish prayer in Congress was delivered by a woman rabbi, nearly one-third of the 441 rabbis from over 400 synagogues who opened Congress have been New Yorkers, six rabbis who survived Auschwitz have opened Congress, 10% of the rabbis cite Isaiah, three rabbis didn’t mention God…the stats and facts go on and on. If you want to impress your friends at kiddush or win some bets after Shabbat, this is the book for you."

The Times of Israel

“[A] fascinating volume filled with details—a history book in the truest sense. Every page [reflects] an extraordinary amount of research. … When Rabbis Bless Congress is a valuable resource that should be on every rabbi’s shelf and in every synagogue’s library. … I cannot emphasize enough how impressed I was by the precise details shared here. The author’s passion for the task at hand shines brightly… The book itself serves as a reminder of the Jewish contribution to American democracy and how the Jewish community shares with all Americans a deep and abiding love for basic human values, thereby cherishing diversity and the many gifts that immigrants have brought to these shores. I highly recommend it.”

— Rabbi Sally J. Priesand, American Jewish Archives Journal

"[A] unique publication enriching American Jewish history... [T]he book’s impressive treasure trove collection of a myriad of fascinating and intriguing items with sprinkled humor."

—Rabbi Dr. Israel Zoberman, CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly

“Religion has been a source of unity and strength in America. Our Founders were deeply connected to their faith—from day one. It is fitting that in the first session of the US Senate (in 1789), picking a chaplain to deliver an opening prayer was the first item of business.

Jewish American clergy would not have the honor of delivering an opening prayer in the Senate for another 80 years—in 1870. Now, thanks to Howard Mortman (C-SPAN wasn’t around to record sessions of Congress in those early days), we have a comprehensive and fascinating history of the participation of American Rabbis in this important tradition of opening prayers in both chambers of Congress. Howard Mortman tells us not only about the content of the prayers, but also the many remarkable stories behind the men and women who delivered them.

In studying the prayers of Jews who opened our Legislative Branch of Government, we gain valuable insights into the great events, hopes, fears and dreams of a great people in a great country.”

— Senator Joseph Lieberman

“This is a fascinating peek at the religious undercurrent of America’s history. Combining G-d talk with politics, both topics to be avoided in polite company, Howard Mortman’s perusal of the historical presence of the Chaplain’s prayer in the Halls of Congress is good fodder for interesting conversations among friends. Most readers will be surprised to learn so much about untold congressional history and internal dynamic.”

— Rev. Pat Conroy, S.J., Chaplain, U.S. House of Representatives

“Reading When Rabbis Bless Congress has made me feel connected to other rabbis around the country across lines of denomination, geography, and theology. Howard Mortman situates the reader within history, scripture, and politics, and does so in a conversational voice that makes you feel like you know him. For the student of prayer, this is a book that will expose you to such a variety of it, with incredible context. For the student of politics and history, this is a book that will walk you through our country’s story through the lens of both spirituality and Jewish diversity. Open up this book to satiate your curiosity around this odd juxtaposition of rabbinic blessing and congressional tradition—close it with a deeper understanding of our nation’s Jewish history and thought.”

— Rabbi Hannah Spiro, Hill Havurah

“From the dawn of the Civil War, when the first rabbi delivered a prayer in Congress, until the U.S. Capitol was locked down by a pandemic in 2020, 441 Jewish religious leaders led Congress in prayer. Howard Mortman can tell you how many came from other countries (27); how many were women (14); and how many of the female rabbis wore yarmulkes (half). Moreover, in lyrical prose, with understated humor, and a welcoming teaching style the author explains why it all matters. You don’t have to be Jewish to love this gem of a book—or be a C-SPAN junkie. You only have to be interested in the American story. And When Rabbis Bless Congress will make you care about it even more.”

— Carl M. Cannon, political historian and Washington Bureau Chief, RealClearPolitics

“Howard Mortman’s masterful work introduces us to the rabbis—and I’m honored to be one of them—who have been honored with the invitation to speak truth to power (Truth with a capital “T”) through a prayer in the Capitol, to open a session of Congress. More precisely, these rabbis speak prayer to power, offering brief moments of hope, reflection, inspiration, and perspective. They join clergy representing the diverse faith groups of our nation to challenge our leaders to remember that while party tactics might differ, the goal of Congress should be based on shared dreams:  a better, stronger, safer, more hopeful, more united America—a more perfect union. Their words are reminders that despite all challenges, ‘America has a prayer.’”

—Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff, U.S. Navy Chaplain (Retired)

“Prayers at the commencement of each day’s proceedings in the two chambers of the United States Congress are an enduring, but not uncontested, tradition in American political culture. In When Rabbis Bless Congress, Howard Mortman chronicles the prayers delivered by Jews in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and profiles the rabbis who gave them. This encyclopedic examination of a previously untold story in American history, yields keen insights into American public religion, Jews in America, and the delicate and sometimes controversial interplay between religion and civil government in the nation’s history. Brimming with details about prayer and the chaplaincy on Capitol Hill and engaging anecdotes about congressional traditions and personalities, this book adds an informative chapter to the history of Congress and religion in American civic life.”

—Daniel L. Dreisbach, professor of legal studies, American University, and author of Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers

“If you jump to the conclusion that a book chronicling the history of Jewish invocational prayers in the U.S. Congress would be of little interest to the general public, you are greatly mistaken. Howard Mortman’s extensively researched volume is jam-packed with astonishing facts and enthralling stories. His book is likely to become the final word on this subject. Once you begin to read Mortman’s captivating story of Jewish prayers on Capitol Hill you will not want to put it down.”

—Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and The Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati

“A masterful work of both scholarship and hope, When Rabbis Bless Congress is a must-read for those who study the role of Jews in American civic life and for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of how faith shapes this country. Howard Mortman has given us a meticulously researched and fascinating account of Jewish prayer in one America’s most cherished of institutions, the United States Congress.”

—Ronald S. Lauder, President, World Jewish Congress

“Perusing the painstaking and thoroughly researched work of Howard Mortman, one gets a sense of history and within it the good fortune of the Jewish people. When walking the halls of the US Capitol complex, any American can explore that which came before us and, with G-d’s help, made possible what we have today. And they will better understand how carrying that legacy and protecting it is a vast process which is not easy. Those at the helm of national leadership know they need more than their own power to get the work done.

And so religious leaders are invited to help guide their purpose who, while perhaps not necessarily agreeing on religious matters, do all agree that we are fortunate to have this special opportunity. Within that context, of course, have been Jewish leaders who have brought words of Torah and age-old Jewish tradition to the august Chambers of Congress. I was privileged to be one of them, and the feeling of offering my prayer in such a place was truly special. I always wished that could be shared with the larger public, aside from the Congressional Record.

Howard Mortman’s excellent work makes that possible.”

—Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Executive Vice President of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) and Founder of the Capitol Jewish Forum

“Howard Mortman’s book is a true American treasure. Fascinating from beginning to end, it reminds us of two critical tenets of our unique country. First, our religious roots dig deep into the Jewish faith and traditions. Second, the prayers that have been delivered before the House and Senate are a reaffirmation that our country believes in a higher power to whom we can turn and to whom we must answer for our actions. It is a must read for anyone interested in the rich religious fabric of our nation.”

—Honorable James P. Moore, Jr., Founder and CEO of the Washington Institute for Business, Government and Society and author of One Nation Under God: The History of Prayer in America

"Be sure to check out Howard Mortman's new book, When Rabbis Bless Congress: The Great American Story of Jewish Prayers on Capitol Hill. Extremely interesting and inspirational!"

—Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media


“In When Rabbis Bless Congress: The Great American Story of Jewish Prayers on Capitol Hill, Howard Mortman presents a panoramic view of the book’s titular rabbis, nearly 450 from over 400 different synagogues and Jewish organizations… Mortman, the communications director for the C-SPAN, brings to these rabbis’ invocations a lifetime of journalistic experience and what would seem to be not a little research. Organized descriptively—initially of the rabbis, then by the content of the prayers—this work covers the corpus of rabbinic liturgical appearances before Congress in a way that… seems to present the topic comprehensively.”

– Eric Michael Mazur, Reading Religion

»

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