The Office of the Chaplain United States House of Representatives

Rabbi Gary P. Zola

American Jewish Archives
Cincinnati, OH

Sponsor: Rep. Rob Portman, (R-OH)
Date of Prayer: 09/21/2004

One Minute Speech Given in Recognition of the Guest Chaplain:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to welcome a distinguished constituent of mine, Dr. Gary Phillip Zola , who we just heard from, who was the guest chaplain of the House today. Dr. Zola is the executive director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, which is the world's largest archival resource which documents the history of North American Jewry. Dr. Zola also serves as an associate professor at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.

Under Dr. Zola's leadership, the American Jewish Archives has initiated an impressive array of innovative projects that have captured the attention of both the Jewish and general communities in our country. Currently, Dr. Zola is serving as Chair of the Commission for Commemorating the 350th Anniversary of American Jewish History, which has been organized to help our Nation mark the 350th anniversary of Jewish communal life in North America. This commission represents a historical collaboration of the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the American Jewish History Society, and the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives. The exhibit, by the way, is currently open at the Library of Congress right across the street.

Prior to assuming leadership of the Marcus Center, Dr. Zola served for more than 15 years as the National Dean of Admissions, Student Affairs and Alumni Relations for Hebrew Union College, a true treasure in greater Cincinnati.

Dr. Zola and his wife, Stefi, live in Blue Ash, Ohio, with their four children, Mandi, Jory, Jeremy, and Samantha.

I thank him so much for taking the time to come join us this afternoon and to deliver a very thoughtful prayer and thoughtful moment for us here in the House of Representatives.

Opening Prayer Given by the Guest Chaplain:

As we begin legislative deliberations in this great shrine of democracy, we call to mind the words of an American original – Sam Levensen (1912 – 1980) – the Spanish teacher turned entertainer whose homespun stories about his immigrant parents delighted our nation. Upon his death, Levenson's children discovered their father's ethical will containing these heartfelt sentiments:

To America, I owe a debt for the opportunity it gave me to be free and to be me. To my parents I owe America. They gave it to me, and I leave it to you. Take good care of it. To the Bible, I owe the belief that the human does not live by bread alone, nor do we live alone at all. This is also the democratic tradition. Preserve it.

In this year marking the 350th anniversary of Jewish life in this great land, may we all acknowledge our debt to America, to the courageous immigrants who gave us this national inheritance, and to the Source of All for endowing us with the benefit of our patriot's dream – a nation pledged to uphold the conviction that liberty and justice are for all.

Thankful are we for the manifold blessings that are our daily possession in this great and blessed nation.


To learn more about Members who have sponsored a Guest Chaplain, please visit the Congressional Biographical Directory