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Impressive Rosh Hashanah Services Held in Capitol; Non-jews Attend

September 29, 1965
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Speaker of the House John W. McCormack commended today the dignity and propriety of unprecedented, two-day Rosh Hashanah services conducted in the Congressional nondenominational chapel, to enable Jewish Congressmen to vote on the District of Columbia “home rule” bill now before the House.

Rep. McCormack, a Massachusetts Democrat, came to the service, attired himself in tallith and yarmulke, and witnessed the blowing of the shofar. The pious Jew who organized and helped lead the impressive Orthodox services, Rep. Herbert Tenzer, New York Democrat, related portions of the service to the pending legislation. He read Jeremiah’s injunction to “seek the welfare of the city whither I have caused you to migrate, and pray to the Lord for it.”

Rep. Tenzer was commended by his colleagues at the kiddush which followed services. The kiddush was held in the private dining room of the Speaker of the House. Rep. Tenzer arranged the services after discussions with Rabbi Gilbert Klaperman, of Congregation Beth Sholom, Lawrence, Long Island, a synagogue which he serves as honorary president. Guidance was also given by Dr. Semuel Belkin, president of Yeshiva University.

Although the Senate was not in session, Sen. Abraham Ribicoff came from Connecticut to participate because of the historic occasion — the first time formal Jewish services were conducted in the U. S. Capitol building. The Jewish chaplain of the House Rev. Bernard Braskamp, attanded. So did a number of non-Jewish Congressmen who wanted to display their respect for the Jewish rituals.

In addition to Sen. Ribicoff and Rep. Tenzer, Jewish participants were Representatives Leonard Farbstein, Jacob H. Gilbert, Seymour Halpern, Abraham J. Multer, Richard L. Ottinger, Joseph Y. Resnick, Benjamin S. Rosenthal, James H. Scheuer, and Lester L. Wolff, all of New York; Rep. Charles S, Joelson, of New Jersey, and Rep. Samuel N. Friedel, of Maryland.

Prayers were led by Rabbi Hyman Shapiro, principal of the religious school of Young Israel of Wavecrest, a resident of Long Beach, N. Y. He was assisted by Aryeh Maiden-baum, a graduate student at Columbia University, who read a Torah portion. An active role in leading the services was also taken by Rep. Tenzer, with other Congressmen, although some were not Orthodox, assisting in the traditional services.

William Miller, chief doorkeeper of the House, and a number of other non-Jewish employes of Congress, voluntarily helped in arranging and preparing a makeshift Ark and otherwise facilitating the services. One employe, who once was employed by a kosher catering firm, cleaned the Speaker’s private dining room and saw to it that table service for hiddush was in keeping with the requirements of kasruth.

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