U.S. Senator Schatz stands with his wife whil
U.S. Senator Schatz stands with his wife whilReuters

Former Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz (D) was formally sworn into the United States Senate on Thursday while holding a Tanakh, or Hebrew bible.

Schatz, who is Jewish, was chosen by Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) on Wednesday to fill the seat left vacant after the passing of veteran Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), who died last week from respiratory complications at the age of 88.

Following the ceremony, Hawaii’s other Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) rose to call Schatz a “leader for Hawaii’s present and for our future.”

“Daniel Inouye will always be a legend in Hawaii,” Akaka said of the late senator, who had been a staunch supporter of the state of Israel. “We must honor his legacy by working together for the people of Hawaii.”

Schatz, 40, flew overnight to Washington aboard Air Force One to take part in key end-of-year votes, namely regarding a possible plan to avert the fiscal cliff.

Abercrombie chose Schatz over U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D), who Inouye had indicated shortly before his death would be his preferred successor.