Prayers for Barack
Sending the president the whole megillah
When Abraham Lincoln became president, in 1861, a Jewish city clerk from Chicago named Abraham Kohn took it upon himself to send his fellow Illinoisan a picture of the American flag embellished with an inscription from the Book of Joshua: “Be strong and of good courage.”
After Barack Obama was elected, last fall, Shlomo Perelman, the owner of the Pittsburgh-based Judaica Web site judaism.com, decided he would follow Kohn’s example and send the new president a gift. But what to send? A DVD set was clearly out of the question. Instead, Perelman asked an Israeli artist named Michael Meron to create a 50-foot scroll printed with more than 3,000 mazels submitted by well-wishers via a Web site he created for the project, blessingsforbarack.com. Most contributions came from the U.S., but a handful came from as far afield as Britain and Costa Rica; one person entered the Shema prayer, while a woman from Beverly Hills who said her Hebrew name is Bracha took the opportunity to remind Obama that “Barack” is just the Arabic for the Hebrew “Baruch,” or “blessed.”
The megillat brachot, which hasn’t yet been presented to the president, also includes the signatures of Jewish members of Congress, the Hebrew prayer for country and the words from Jeremiah: “Seek the peace of the city in which you live, for through its peace you shall have peace.” “It’s just part of what Jews do,” Perelman told Tablet. “We pray for our country, and we do it no matter who’s in the White House.”
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.