Orthodox rabbi delivers opening invocation at GOP convention

Click photo to download. Caption: Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik. Credit: Yeshiva University.

(JNS.org) Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, a rising intellectual star, delivered the invocation at the opening of the Republican National Convention on Aug. 28.

Soloveichik opened his prayer by quoting the biblical verse on the Liberty Bell, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” According to Soloveichik, this verse “embodies American independence… that unites faith and freedom, in asserting that our liberties are your gift, God, not that of government.”

Soloveichik, 35, is an associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshrun on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University. He hails from one of America’s most prominent Orthodox Jewish families and is widely considered to be a brilliant scholar—graduating summa cum laude from Yeshiva University, studying at Yale University Divinity School and receiving a PhD in religion from Princeton University.

The rabbi also writes for the conservative publication Commentary and the Christian journal First Things. He testified before Congress against President Obama’s mandate requiring Catholic employers to provide contraception coverage.

Soloveichik’s selection for the opening invocation is indicative of the larger trend of Orthodox Jews gravitating towards conservative politics. Orthodox celebrity rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a former registered Democrat, has garnered national headlines in his run for Congress as a Republican candidate in New Jersey, and last year U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY) won a special election in a heavily Orthodox Jewish district in Brooklyn, NY, to fill Anthony Weiner’s seat. Though Orthodox Jews only represent a small (yet rapidly growing) segment of America’s Jewish population, many are attracted to the GOP’s social conservatism and Israel policies.

Posted on August 28, 2012 .