And You Shall Write Them Upon the Doorposts of Your House –of Representatives
Florida's House and Senate returned for their regular sessions last Tuesday, March 4, 2008, but with one change: the office doors of House Majority Leader Adam Hasner and House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, both Jewish, were fitted with mezuzos, the Torah-mandated traditional scrolls containing verses of sacred text penned on parchment scrolls.
The mezuzah mountings began on Tallahassee's first day back in session, when House Majority Leader Adam Hasner invited Chabad of Tallahassee's director Rabbi Shneur Oirechman to place a mezuzah on the door of his Tallahassee office—following in the footsteps of Gov. Charlie Crist who had the rabbi affix one on his door last year. (Although Crist is not Jewish, his high-profile leadership position warrants a mezuzah; the Talmud contains at least one instance of an influential non-Jewish leader receiving an authentic kosher mezuzah as a gift from Jews.) With Florida facing a state-wide budget crunch, Hasner, who was joined for the mezuzah mounting by his wife Jillian, commented that the House needs all the blessings it can get as it makes tough budget cutting decisions . . .
An hour later Gov. Crist delivered the traditional State of of the State Address, in turn followed by the traditional dinner at the Governor's Mansion attended by 128 select guests. Rabbi Oirechman and wife Chanie were honored to represent Chabad Florida-wide, as Gov. Crist seated them at his own table, together with his parents and the owner of the Miami Dolphins pro football team.
In the course of the dinner, Rep. Hasner personally stopped in to greet the governor and his guests, mentioning the office mezuzah he had just received, which put him in Crist's company. The only ones without mezuzos in Tallahassee now, quipped Oirechman, are the Jewish House and Senate Democratic leaders, also both Jewish. Upon hearing this, Crist immediately called Rep. Gelber personally, telling him that he also needed a mezuzah. Gelber replied that he will have the rabbi come by his office to install one at the earliest possible convenience.
The ensuing dinner conversation centered on the mitzvah of mezuzah, with the rabbi explaining the mitzvah in depth. The Governor and his party expressed genuine interest, curiosity and respect towards the mezuzah's contents, particularly the verses of "Shema" and "V'ahavta," triggering a lively discussion on the unity of G-d in Judaism.
The dinner wound down with Rabbi Oirechman extending an invitation to the Governor to a private dinner at his own home.
Two days later, Rabbi Oirechman was invited by minority leader Representative Gelber to hammer a mezuzah onto the doorframe of his house office.
One mezuzah leads to another . . .