CEO of Hebrew Theological College Delivers Benediction at Illinois Senate General Assembly

Rabbi Shmuel L. Schuman draws on Jewish benediction from 1850

January 25, 2017

Rabbi Schuman, who was invited by Senator Ira Silverstein to the ceremony, began his speech by noting that the first Jewish benediction at a state capital was delivered by Julius Eckman in Virginia in 1850. Rabbi Schuman drew on Eckman’s speech, stating that, “the more things change—the more humanity in its quest for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—remains the same.”

“May truth be our guide, justice our will and the welfare of mankind our only aim so that this state can confront the challenges ahead and continue to rise, shine and flourish,” he quoted from Eckman’s text.

Then adding his own prayer, Rabbi Schuman quoted from Ethics of Our Fathers, Pirkei Avot, that all arguments for the sake of heaven, for the good of mankind, will ultimately succeed.

“May discussions in this chamber be of that ilk,” he said.

Rabbi Schuman finished his speech with the priestly blessings from Biblical book of Numbers.

“May God bless you and safeguard you,” Rabbi Schuman concluded. “May God’s countenance shine upon you and be gracious to you. May God grant you peace.”