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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2017 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

July 14, 2017  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Ahavat Shalom’s rabbi offers opening prayer in U.S. House

By JACOB McMANAMON Jewish Press

Rabbi Gary Klein of Temple Ahavat Shalom had the honor of giving the opening prayer to the U.S. House of Representatives on June 27.

He was introduced as guest chaplain by Congressman Gus Bilirakis and announced by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“It was very exciting. It made me feel proud to be an American citizen and proud to be Jewish,” said Rabbi Klein.

Rabbi Klein has a longstanding friendship with Bilirakis, a Republican congressman from Palm Harbor where the temple is located. Speaking from the floor of the House, Bilirakis introduced the rabbi by noting, “Rabbi Klein is a long time advocate of the U.S. - Israel alliance.”

When he was offered the possibility of giving the prayer, Rabbi Klein said, “It was a great opportunity to thank members of Congress for pursuing the noble endeavor of leading our country. I brought what I believe is a Jewish message to the House.”


U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan announces Rabbi Gary Klein of Temple Ahavat Shalom in Palm Harbor (immediately below the Speaker in the center) as guest chaplain to deliver the opening prayer for the day’s session on June 27. U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan announces Rabbi Gary Klein of Temple Ahavat Shalom in Palm Harbor (immediately below the Speaker in the center) as guest chaplain to deliver the opening prayer for the day’s session on June 27. Rabbi Klein began his 2-minute prayer by telling House members, “Religious traditions teach that people and God are to work together to create a better world.”

The Talmud, he said, teaches that, “trying to improve the world even if you do not complete the task is life’s most sacred duty,” and he noted its concept that, “If you save a single life, it is as if you saved the entire world.”

During his remarks, Rabbi Klein also prayed for the recovery of Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana and others who were injured in a shooting during a softball practice for a GOP team in early June.

He prayed that the House’s “collective courage, dedication, compassion and wisdom of its members helps this country to maintain its position as a light unto the nations.”

Rabbi Klein told the Jewish Press the House chaplain rejected his original version of the prayer because it did not include enough references to God. The rabbi said he had done that intentionally because he wanted to be mindful of nonbelievers.

Prior to his appearance, Rabbi Klein was even able to meet Speaker Ryan.

“He was very kind. He wanted to make sure to pronounce Ahavat Shalom correctly,” said Rabbi Klein, “He also asked about the community and my involvement with AIPAC.”

Rabbi Klein is heavily involved in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which lobbies for pro-Israel policies and to strengthen the American-Israel alliance.


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