The Office of the Chaplain United States House of Representatives

Rabbi Dr. David Halpern

Flatbush Park Jewish Center
Brooklyn, NY

Sponsor: Rep. Hon. Tom Lantos, (D-CA)
Date of Prayer: 06/17/2003

One Minute Speech Given in Recognition of the Guest Chaplain:

Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to welcome to the Chamber Rabbi David Halpern, who offered our opening prayer . I thank him for his thoughtful invocation.

Madam Speaker, Rabbi Halpern's accomplishments in his community of Flatbush, Brooklyn, have touched many lives across the Nation, and his work merits national recognition.

He leads the Flatbush Park Jewish Center. He is the Principal of the religious school there, which he helped found in 1952. He sought to create a place where religiously observant and religiously curious alike can feel comfortable; to advance the goal of Jewish learning; and to support Jewish causes around our country and around the globe. He also served as a Chaplain in the 71st Infantry of the 42nd Division of the National Guard for 10 years, and he sits on the New York board of Rabbis.

Madam Speaker, the esteem in which the Flatbush Park Jewish Center is held indicates that Rabbi Halpern's efforts have been an unqualified success. In recognition of his sense of compassion and leadership, he was chosen to speak on behalf of the community of Flatbush in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy.

Madam Speaker, I am delighted that he was able to share some of his wisdom and grace with us today. We admire his commitment to his faith and to his community.

Opening Prayer Given by the Guest Chaplain:

Our Father, Sovereign of the world, we stand in the House of freely elected representatives of all the American people. These men and women, dedicated and strong, have accepted the awesome burden of promulgating the laws by which our free society lives and shall live. They wear this mantel of leadership in profoundly perilous times.

The threat to human security wears many faces: Tyranny, terror, religious oppression, racial tension, disease, hunger and despair. We seek the solution to these problems. We search diligently for the road to peace, for the path to harmonious living, for the means to achieve human dignity for us all created in Thine image.

May we always remember that to safeguard our own freedom, we must speak out against oppression, and, where warranted, even take up arms against it. To enjoy the blessings of our own wealth, we must also provide for the underprivileged and the needy. To be truly strong requires more than strength of arms, it requires strength of spirit.

Almost six decades have passed since the age of the Nazi death camps, the places where 6 million Jewish men, women and children had their lives cruelly and brutally ended, their only sin that they were born Jewish. The world has watched helplessly as in the last decade hundreds of thousands of different nationalities and ethnic groups have been slaughtered. We pray that the destruction of man by his fellow because of religious beliefs or racial origins will be known no more; that people of different religious paths may learn to live side–by–side in peace and in harmony.

We ask Thy blessing upon these members of our Congress, the spiritual heirs of those who were so instrumental in bestowing upon the seed of Israel the restoration of their homeland. We pray that our President will succeed in his determined mission of building peace with security and of shining the bright light of freedom upon that benighted part of the world.

Grant that our President and Vice President and all our elected leaders will be blessed with clear vision to see and understand the future, and the courage and heart to make it a blessed and beautiful reality.

We pray in the words of Isaiah: May the spirit of the Lord rest upon us, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. Amen.

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