With Hollywood celebs, far-left activists, and even some congressional Democrats still unwilling to accept President-elect Donald Trump’s surprise victory in November's democratic elections, disavowing their new Commander in Chief with slogans like “Not My President” and a movement to boycott the inauguration, one prominent left-wing rabbi has found his own unique way to protest the president.
Shmuly Yanklowitz, an Open Orthodox rabbi and dean of the Valley Beit Midrash in Phoenix, Arizona, has responded to the election of the 45th President of the United States by rewriting the traditional Shabbat prayer for the US President - so as to avoid actually blessing him.
Jews made it a custom to pray for the welfare of the nation and ruler in which worshipers reside. Most Orthodox prayer books in the United States contain this prayer:
“He who grants salvation to kings and dominion to rulers, whose kingdom is a kingdom spanning all eternity, who releases David his servant from the evil sword, who places a road in the sea and a path in the mighty waters, may he bless The President, the Vice President, and all the Constituted Officers of Government of this Land. The King who reigns over Kings in his mercy may he protect them from every trouble, woe, and injury, may he rescue them and put into their hearts and into the hearts of all their councilors compassion to do good with us and with all Israel, our brethren. In their days and in ours, may Judah be saved and may Israel dwell securely, and may the Redeemer come to Zion. So may it be his will, and let us say: Amen.”
Yanklowitz, who founded the Uri L’Tzedek Orthodox Social Justice organization, on Monday publicized an alternative prayer, dropping the blessing for the success of America’s president and instead accusing the incoming president of promoting white supremacy.
“Because of my commitment to the integrity of prayer, starting this week, I can no longer recite or say amen to the Shabbat prayer for the success of the U.S. President,” Yanklowitz wrote.
“I felt that it was not enough to simply avoid the U.S. President in the prayer for the government but to remind myself of the billions of vulnerable people who are at risk under his rule, and challenge myself each Shabbat to build up the strength for another week of spiritual resistance.”
The prayer itself reads in part: “Guide the incoming leader of this country away from his basest instincts, thwart his plans to target certain groups and strengthen white supremacy; for You know, God, that all were created in Your image.”
“We pray that the decrees from the Executive office do not harm the innocent. We pray that any policies that are meant to harm the vulnerable in prioritization of the powerful and privileged will be quashed. Should there be plans that will merely benefit the most privileged Americans, but not all of humankind and the planet we call home, may they fail. May our nation not consort or conspire with totalitarian despots but reaffirm our commitment to freedom and democracy. Grant us the strength to demonstrate spiritual resistance, to imbue our sinews with the highest integrity. Give us the wisdom and courage to do what’s right to protect the most powerless and defenseless in society.”
In the past, Yanklowitz has criticized Jewish supporters of Trump, writing that even “engagement” with the then-GOP presumptive nominee was “an embarrassment” to the Jewish people.
“Any engagement w/ Trump is an embarrassment to the holy descendants of Abraham & Sarah, the State of Israel, & to any person of conscience.
Let's wash out our ears for even listening out of curiosity! #DumpTrump”