Warren Witnesses at Presidential Invocation
Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren concluded the invocation at President Obama's inauguration in an exclusively evangelical way. He used the opportunity to "witness" to the many millions watching the ceremony: "I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus (hay-SOOS), who taught us to pray, Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name...."
Some critics note that Warren turned the invocation into an explicitly Christian prayer
, and that his reference to Jesus as Yeshua was a gesture towards so called "messianic Jews". Time Magazine
notes that for the sixth straight presidential inauguration, rabbis would not have a place on the dais. Since 1985, only Evangelical Protestants have played a part in the presidential swearing-in ceremony.
On the other hand….
Did Lookstein Overlook Halacha?
The JTA reports that The Rabbinical Coucil of America – charged a prominent member of violating its rules
by participating in the National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral on the morning after Barack Obama's inauguration.
“The long-standing policy of the Rabbinical Council of America, in accordance with Jewish law, is that participation in a prayer service held in the sanctuary of a church is prohibited,"
the RCA said in a statement.
The RCA said that Rabbi Haskel Lookstein’s participation “was problematic both because the service was held in the sanctuary of a church, which Orthodox Jews are prohibited from entering, and because it was an interfaith prayer service, which the RCA discourages for fear that such participation could allow missionaries to legitimize their argument that Jews can indeed embrace Jesus.”
Rabbi Tzvi Hersch Weinreb, the executive vice president of the Orthodox Union sited the late Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik’s position
that Orthodox rabbis “should not engage in theological debate or participate in interfaith services.”
But Rabbi Lookstein has responded
in a letter to his colleagues at the RCA. An excerpt follows:
“It is well known that many Chief Rabbis of England have gone into Westminster Abby when summoned there by the King or Queen, and many other great rabbis have done the same to represent our community. The Chief Rabbis of Israel have engaged in similar activities, and, most recently, the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen was involved in similar activities. In fact, he attended the funeral of the late Pope, John Paul II.”