Orthodox Union wants nonpartisan response to Trump interfaith inaugural event


(JTA) — Amid preparations for an interfaith prayer during Donald Trump’s inaugural weekend, the Orthodox Union called on faith leaders to demonstrate a nonpartisan approach to the event.

The plea by Nathan Diament, head of the public policy arm of the Orthodox Union, the main communal association for Orthodox Judaism, which The Associated Press quoted Wednesday, came amid speculation that some imams and Latino Catholics may boycott the event announced by the Trump campaign Wednesday over his remarks in recent months over those minorities and other groups.

The event planned for Jan. 21 at Washington’s National Cathedral, Diament said, “should not be looked at in a partisan way.” It is “meant to be a unifying event” and “to focus on praying for the success, not only of the president, but also his entire administration and the new Congress, which is something everyone should hope for.”

The O.U. will not be participating, Diament told JTA, adding that it will be “hard to get an Orthodox rabbi to participate, particularly because it’s on Shabbat.”

The cathedral service will be held on a Saturday morning, during the Jewish Sabbath, when observant Jews are forbidden to drive or use electricity, potentially complicating their attendance. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are Orthodox Jews and would face the same Shabbat limits. The inaugural is constitutionally mandated to be held on Jan. 20, and the National Cathedral service is usually held the next day.

In its announcement about the event, the presidential inaugural committee provided no details on the ceremony or participants. A similar 2013 event for President Barack Obama’s second-term inaugural included about two dozen religious leaders, including three Muslims, along with representatives of Judaism, evangelical Christianity, mainline Protestantism, Orthodox Christianity and Sikhism.

Trump won 81 percent of white evangelical voters and 52 percent of the overall Catholic vote. Conservative Christians and others have been deeply heartened by Trump’s promise to appoint conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices, among other pledges.

But Trump lost Latino Catholics and attracted only 24 percent of Jewish voters. He has drawn condemnations from an array of religious leaders for calling Mexicans rapists, while pledging to deport large numbers of immigrants in the country illegally and promising during the campaign to temporarily ban immigrants from Muslim nations.

Earlier this month, more than 300 American Muslim leaders sent a letter to Trump expressing concern about his incoming administration, including appointees who some Muslims see as biased.

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