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People hold hands as they pray during the invocation during day two of the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 5, 2012.
What does it mean to offer a prayer? When I was asked to offer a benediction at the Democratic National Convention, I accepted in the spirit that a rabbi should pray at a national gathering in the spirit of offerings Judaism’s message and God’s blessings.
I have in my life tried to associate myself with both sides of the political spectrum. I have been at dinner at former President George W Bush’s table in the White House, invited conservative and liberal politicians and thinkers to the synagogue, consistently avoided declaring a political position.
For some, to pray at a convention stepped over that line. I rather considered it in the spirit of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who prayed at the DNC despite clear and even litigious differences with the administration. I thought of evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren, who said a prayer at President Obama’s inauguration despite clear differences between the evangelical community and the president’s policies.
Yet such ecumenism has seemingly disappeared from American life.
If prayer means endorsement then God is made small. The clergy who give their allegiance entirely to one side of the political spectrum or the other do not, I believe, appreciate the richness of traditions nor the reality that different sides of the national argument have powerful truths embedded in their outlooks.
I wrote this prayer to express the values that I think all Americans hold dear, left and right. I regret those who see only politics and partisanship. I rejoice In the understanding that no human idea is big enough to contain the grandeur of God.
Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, David Wolpe is the author of seven books including “Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times” and his latest, “Why Faith Matters.” Follow him on Facebook