WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Reform rabbi delivered the invocation at the Denver ceremony at which President Obama signed the economic stimulus bill.
Rabbi Joel Schwartzman of Congregation B’nai Chaim in Morrison, Colo., said he was selected for the honor by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. Schwartzman serves on a clergy council advising Hickenlooper on Denver’s Road Home, a program in which congregations mentor homeless families and place them into housing.
"Long known as people who, when asked to give of ourselves, have come forward with gifts that have astounded and amazed, whose creativity and ingenuity have, time and again, brought betterment to the advancement of the common good, we beseech You, once again, to imbue us with the confidence that there is no challenge too great that we, united together as the American people, cannot overcome it," Schwartzman said in the invocation.
"I tried to strike an optimistic note and reflect that when Americans have been down, they’ve come back stronger," said Schwartzman, who delivered the invocation before the president arrived in the building but did get to shake Obama’s hand.
It was the second time the retired military chaplain had delivered an invocation for a presidential event. In 1997, while in the Air Force, Schwartzman presented the invocation at the Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington Cemetery.