By: Fern Sidman
In reaction to Wednesday’s historic inauguration of our nation’s 46th president, religious organizations weighed in by expressing their support for the 78-year-old Joseph R. Biden Jr. Biden took the oath of office at approximately 12 noon on an exceptionally crisp January day. He was surrounded by his wife. Dr. Jill Biden, his son Hunter, his daughter Ashley and the rest of the Biden family.
Also on the outdoor platform at the Capitol were Vice President Kamala Harris, her husband Doug Emhoff, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, members of Congress and former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Reflecting on the violence at the Capitol only two weeks ago, many news outlets commented that this building which is often described by the media as the temple of democracy and a purveyor of freedom had been desecrated with vitriolic hate but now shines brightly as a beacon of hope in an otherwise divisive world.
Earlier on Wednesday, President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and the entire Trump family boarded Air Force One for the final time at Joint Base Andrews on their way to Mar-a-Lago, the Trump estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump told the awaiting crowd at the airport that he would be back “in some kind of form” and expressed his appreciation to those who have shown their support to him in the administration.
Expressing their support for Biden were such religious organizations as the Agudath Israel of America, the nation’s largest and most influential Orthodox Jewish organization. In a letter to both Biden and Harris, the organization said, “we are pleased to take this opportunity to congratulate you upon your inauguration to the presidency and vice presidency of our great nation. You have assumed these positions of leadership at a time of great turmoil and uncertainty. But we are heartened by, and wholeheartedly endorse, your quest for national unity and for healing a troubled and divided America. Please consider us full partners in the pursuit of that noble mission. We look forward to working with your administration on both domestic and foreign issues of mutual interest. For now, allow us to convey our commitment, our best wishes, and above all, our prayers to the Almighty that He grant you the strength and wisdom to successfully face the formidable challenges that lie ahead.”
Political insider and president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder extended his congratulations to Biden and Harris on the inauguration by issuing the following statement:
“On behalf of the more than 100 Jewish communities across the globe affiliated with the World Jewish Congress, I am delighted to extend my most heartfelt congratulations to Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. on his inauguration as the 46th president of the United States and to Kamala Harris as vice president.
As an honorary Delawarean by marriage, and as a former U.S. Ambassador to Austria and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, I have known President Biden for over 50 years and know that the Jewish community could not have a better friend and ally in the White House.
In 2016, when we honored President Biden with our highest award, the WJC Theodor Herzl Award, he said: ‘Indifference is silence, and silence is consent.’ I know that he will continue to stand by those words as he takes the helm of this country and steers us toward a future of equality, standing up and speaking out for what is fair and what is right.
The World Jewish Congress extends heartfelt wishes to the Biden and Harris families as they embark on the next four years. We take this moment to acknowledge the poignant absence of Beau Biden, a friend of Delaware’s Jewish community and dedicated public servant.
The World Jewish Congress, and I personally, look forward to working closely with the Biden-Harris administration in meeting the many challenges that confront us, both domestically and internationally, starting with the still raging COVID-19 pandemic that threatens all of us, and the urgent need to rid our society of antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, and all other forms of ethnic or religious hatred, and to counter Holocaust denial, distortion, trivialization and mockery wherever it appears.”
Also on Wednesday, the Rabbinical Alliance of America – Igud HaRabbonim, an organization representing over 950 rabbis issued a statement wishing “success to President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on assuming the mantle of leadership of the United States of America, serving as the world’s leaders of freedom, democracy and justice. Inauguration Day represents hope, opportunity, a new beginning.
As this new administration begins its work, the country faces many daunting challenges. We pray that Heaven guide the President and Vice President to lead this great country from the dark times of the pandemic to the sunlight of a healthy world full of optimism, faith, resilience and love. May the President and Vice President be bestowed from Heaven with the wisdom and fortitude to unite America from its current divisiveness and strife.”
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, the executive vice president of the RAA/Igud added that, “Leadership requires a sharp eye, perceptive ear, loving heart and keen acumen. The Rabbinical Alliance of America prays that the Lord bless America’s government and leadership with these much needed gifts. May the Lord pour out His blessings on this land and its President, Vice President, judges, officers and officials, as they work faithfully for the public good. May the Lord grant them the wisdom and strength to successfully fulfill their duties with dignity, so that peace, tranquility, happiness and freedom will never depart from our land. “
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA) National President Rhoda Smolow and CEO/Executive Director Janice Weinman released the following joint statement on Wednesday.
“Hadassah congratulates President Biden and Vice President Harris on this historic day. It is with great pride and full hearts that today America has a woman in the White House, serving the American people in the second highest office in the land. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration on a wide range of issues of importance to Hadassah’s nearly 300,000 members, including enhancing the US-Israel relationship, combating antisemitism at home and abroad, and strengthening women’s rights and women’s health.
The President and Vice President have taken office at a time when mounting challenges – and opportunities – face our nation. Moving forward will require civility, cooperation and tolerance. We are eager to partner with the Biden Administration in the coming years to advance policies that speak to our concerns. We wish them wisdom, health and success in guiding the nation.”
In a statement issued by the government press office in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said sent his congratulations to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their historic inauguration.
“President Biden, you and I have had a warm personal friendship going back many decades. I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the US-Israel alliance, to continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran. I wish you the greatest success. God bless the United States of America. God bless Israel,” Netanyahu said.
The leadership of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the nation’s largest pro-Israel Christian organization, issued the following statement on Wednesday on the occasion of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris taking office.
“After a difficult and challenging year, I pray the Lord blesses President Biden, Vice President Harris and their administration with the wisdom of Solomon as they lead our nation and the world,” said CUFI founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee. “Christians United for Israel looks forward to working with the new administration, as we continue to strengthen the US-Israel relationship and keep these two nations safe and secure,” Hagee added. With more than 10 million members, Christians United for Israel is the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States and one of the leading Christian grassroots movements in the world. CUFI spans all fifty states and reaches millions with its educational message.