An interfaith prayer service for Governor-Elect Phil Murphy and Lieutenant Governor-Elect Sheila Oliver in advance of the inauguration.
Friday, January 12, Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark
Invocation by Rabbi Clifford Kulwin
More than any other word, Jews venerate the Hebrew word shalom. Shalom of course means “peace.” A Jew greets another, and bids farewell to another, by saying shalom. By so doing, yes, we wish one another “peace.” But we wish more than that.
The root of the word shalom means “complete.” When one is sick, we wish them a refuah shel shalom, a “complete healing.” When we ask, “How are you,” we say, mah shlomcha, literally, “are you complete?”
For the Jew, peace, literally, is completeness; to have peace, is to be shalem, to be whole.
Today we voice a collective prayer that our state be whole for, alas, it is not.
Many of us are not whole. Prejudice and intolerance render some of us incomplete. Some lack health, education, safety, opportunity; they are left incomplete.
And if some are incomplete, no one is whole. Wellness and ease and comfort and security can be achieved…but only if every single one of us is made to count. To make that happen takes compassion and generosity, and also intelligence and fortitude.’
These days, new leaders assume the stewardship of our state. I charge you with words from our liturgy, sim shalom, tovah uveracha, please, bring peace and blessing among us by your words and deeds. Act in the tasks ahead, act with the divine gifts of wisdom and discernment, Act with judgment and perspective and courage.
We are not whole; but with God’s help, you can make us whole. We ask God’s blessing upon you as, together we move ahead.