WASHINGTON (Jun. 29)
A prominent rabbi invited by President Richard M. Nixon to conduct an interfaith service for him in the White House today seemed surprised when the service was opened with an explicitly Christian hymn praising “Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” Dr. Louis Finkelstein, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Conservative) sat silently as the hymn extolling a trinitarian God was sung by the choir of Christ Lutheran Church. Dr. Finkelstein was the first rabbi in U.S. history invited to conduct worship services in the executive mansion. Observers said the usual practice at interfaith services was to omit any expression of religious views that cannot be shared by members of all faiths. The Christian concept of a holy trinity is sharply at variance with the Jewish religious belief in monotheism.
Dr. Finkelstein delivered a sermon to the assembled guests who included prominent members of Washington’s Jewish community, in addition to Cabinet members and other high Government officials. He declared that throughout U.S. history, God had sent leaders capable of meeting the nation’s challenges. He mentioned Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln and declared, “We pray that future historians looking back on our generation may say that in a period of great trials and great tribulations, the finger of God pointed to Richard M. Nixon, giving him the vision and wisdom to save the world and civilization.” The rabbi, wearing a yarmulka, later joined President and Mrs. Nixon and their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. David Eisenhower, and Supreme Court Chief Justice and Mrs. Warren E. Burger on the receiving line.’