A blessing for Obama from the American Jewish community

Owner of Jewish Web site assembles a prayer scroll for the president.

scroll of blessings 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
scroll of blessings 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
US President Barack Obama is about to receive a unique gift. Shlomo Perelman, owner of judaism.com, has spent the past six months assembling a prayer scroll for the president, made up of over 3,000 personalized blessings that constituents submitted between December 26 and January 31. The idea came to Perelman after he heard about a gift presented to president-elect Abraham Lincoln by the head of the Jewish community of Chicago in 1861 - an American flag on which tailor Abraham Kohn had embroidered the opening verses of the Book of Joshua, including the words "be strong and of good courage." Perelman thought a similar gift should be presented to Obama from the American Jewish community. "From its conception, the project had nothing to do with politics or policy," Perelman said in a press release. "It is about the spiritual components of leadership, and the intangible benefits of blessings and prayer." The blessings for Obama were assembled into a 15-meter scroll of canvas and wood donated by Perelman's associates at The Studio in Old Jaffa and artist Michal Meron. Perelman said presenting the blessings in this way is a "perfect synthesis of Jewish medium and message." Men, women, children, families, and schools from all around the US submitted blessings to be included in the scroll. The first-grade class at Solomon Schechter Day School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, contributed: "Baruch Atah [Hashem (God)], who will help protect us all, especially Israel & our friends there. May you stay healthy, eat well & have fun. We Love You!" A contributor from Los Angeles said: "Mazel tov. We have taken the first step towards change. Prayers for you, your family and our country." When asked by a Jerusalem Post reporter if he thought feelings for Obama had changed among the American Jewish community in light of recent remarks about Israeli settlements, Perelman said, "I'm sure they have. No president can maintain the high approval level for very long." However, he said sentiments for a particular president do not affect the way the Jewish community prays for the security and prosperity of their country. "Yesterday I went to Shabbat services in the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, the oldest synagogue in the US," he said. "The prayer for the government was said, without first polling the congregants for their personal political opinions. This is the way it has been done for hundreds of years." The scroll's dedication page displays Jeremiah's 3,000-year-old advice to the Jewish people: "Seek the peace and welfare of the nation in which you live, and pray for it to God, for through its peace you shall find peace." The second panel displays a "Prayer for our Country" in both Hebrew and English, and another panel bears the signatures of 30 Jewish members of Congress. Personal prayers are available for viewing at www.judaism.com/scroll. Names have been removed for privacy on the online version. In honor of American Independence Day on July 4, Web site viewers can download a free and full-color Prayer for our Country commissioned by judaism.com. "On behalf of everyone who participated, we all continue to pray that, with God's help, President Obama will be blessed with the wisdom to make the right decisions for our country," Perelman said.