“America is a nation of prayer. It’s impossible to tell the story of our nation without telling the story of people who pray,” said President George Bush today.
The occasion was the White House celebration of the National Day of Prayer. “At decisive moments in our history and in quiet times around family tables, we are a people humbled and strengthened and blessed by prayer.”
Among the religious leaders selected by the White House for to represent their respective faiths, was Chabad’s Rabbi Sholom Ciment of Greater Boynton in Palm Beach County, Florida, offering prayers on behalf of world Jewry.
The National Day of Prayer, which was held in the East Room of the White House, dates back to the first declaration of a day of prayer and fasting by George Washington to President Lincoln’s call for prayer and fasting during the Civil War. President Ronald Reagan signed the current law in 1988, marking the date as the first Thursday in May of each year.
In his words of prayer, Rabbi Ciment, spiritual leader of one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S., said, “We as a nation are assured and comforted by knowing of the President’s unwavering faith in that which we all know is G-d’s truth; that goodness, kindness and freedom will prevail, against any and all odds.”
He then read aloud a blessing formulated by the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Y. Schneersohn, predecessor and father-in-law of the late Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, who composed it during WWII, and said:
“We beseech you, O merciful and gracious G-d; guide our illustrious President who you have chosen leader of these United States. Strengthen and encourage him and his honorable ministers and counselors of state and the honorable representatives of the citizens in both houses of congress. Bless their efforts to save this land and the neighboring lands from war and destruction, and where-so-ever they turn in the cause of humanity and in behalf of this land and for the benefit of your people Israel; send the angels of blessings and success to welcome them, and cause war and its calamities to be ended and an era of peace and justice with its blessings to begin, even in their and our Days, Amen.”
The president thanked those who pray for him, and called it the greatest gift a citizen can offer him.
“In my travels across the great land, a comment that I hear often from our fellow citizens is, ‘Mr. President, I pray for you and your family.’ It’s amazing how many times a total stranger walks up and says that to me,” Bush said. “You’d think they’d say, ‘How about the bridge’? Or, ‘How about filling the potholes’? No, they say, ‘I’ve come to tell you I pray for you, Mr. President.'”
Representing an important and dynamic cross-section of American Jewry, Rabbi Ciment built a thriving Jewish community of some 500 families in Boynton, situated on three acres of beautifully developed land with new housing and a Campus for Living Judaism. According to a press release by Chabad-Lubavitch of Greater Boynton, this, presumably, was a factor in the White House’s decision to choose Ciment as the representative of the Jewish faith.