The Good Book: Bible Ceremony

Libi, our youngest, is having her Chumash ceremony today. Sadly I am missing it for a work trip. Ironically the work trip is in Israel, the Land is the Bible. I hope to make it up to her by bringing her here soon. She does not remember our family trip here a few years ago, she was too young. I love how much she loved the Chumash. I cannot wait for it to come alive for her. It is clear to me that the Good book becomes a great book when you are here.

While I am sorry to miss this milestone with our daughter I am thrilled to return renewed and refreshed in my commitment to this book. I had not been here since Covid. I find this trip is an important step in my own post plague reemergence.

I was thinking about the importance of the Good Book recently when watching the inauguration of Josh Shapiro as the 48th Governor of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was powerful seeing someone from Akiba be such a Kiddush HaShem. Especially when you know which Bibles he used to be sworn in:

The swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 17 included:

  • A personal family Bible Shapiro has been sworn in on for every public office he has assumed since 2005.
  • A Bible provided by the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History carried by Herman Hershman — a Philadelphian and a Corporal Technician 5th Grade in World War II, who earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart after landing with the First Division on Omaha Beach on D-Day.
  • A Hebrew Bible provided by the Tree of Life Synagogue that survived the massacre that took place there in 2018 and was regularly used on Shabbat mornings.

In Shapiro’s speech he noted the significance of being sworn in as a Jewish governor of a state on a Bible given to him from synagogue which had the worst Antisemitic attack in US history. It is worth listening his speech. Why do people get sworn in with their hand on a Bible?

By placing a hand on the book and then kissing it, the oath-taker is acknowledging that, should they lie under oath, neither the words in the Bible nor their good deeds nor their prayers will bring them any earthly or spiritual profit. In time, this became standard legal procedure—all witnesses swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—and made its way into American courts and then oaths of office. In many ways they are using the Good Book as a standard of the good.

I wish the best to Josh in his leadership in Pennsylvania. May he live up to the good of his family, our people fighting for the good, and overcoming tragedy. I also hope the same for Libi. At 7 she is starting to wrap her head around becoming a good person. May she too live up to the standard of the Good Book. No one is perfect , but in the Bible we find our collective aspirations for being our best. i am still sorry to miss it, but deeply proud of our daughter.


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