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Political prayers

September 15, 2007 |  7:04 am

Sept. 10-30, 1957
Los Angeles

I have only touched in passing on Arkansas Gov. Orville Faubus' fight to prevent the integration of Central High School in Little Rock. (Faubus called out the Arkansas National Guard to block federally ordered integration. In response to a request by Little Rock Mayor Woodrow Mann, President Eisenhower sent 1,000 troops from the 101st Airborne Division to maintain order).

But it is worth noting that the events in Little Rock weighed heavily on the congregations of Los Angeles, as reflected in this prayer, which was quoted in The Times:

Heavenly Father, we invoke thy blessing upon these beloved United States in an hour of grave domestic crisis. We pray divine guidance for the president, his counselors and advisers and for the governors and other officials of the several states. 

We pray that thou wilt implant racial harmony in the hearts of man, that no man may hate his brother in his heart or in his school, and that all men shall know that they are brothers, the children of one God. 

We pray for the speedy and just settlement of issues which assume the false doctrine of racial inequality. We pray that this just and loving resolution shall come with peace and not violence, with love and not force, and that right shall be established without recrimination or revenge.

This we pray, O Lord, for thou hast taught us since ancient days that in thy common fatherhood there can be no man-made distinctions introduced. May all men in these United States without regard to color or geographical distribution, repent before thee at this holy season the hatreds of the heart and make affirmation of the desire and the intent to work for a good future for all citizens of this land and of the world.

And with that prayer, Rabbis Max Nussbaum and William Kramer of Hollywood's Temple Israel began the observance of Rosh Hashana, ushering in the year 5718.


Current events also figured in the prayer of Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin of Wilshire Boulevard Temple:

May it be a year of peace and not of war--not even a cold war. Somehow or other, by dint of intelligence or by some miracle coming from God Almighty, may the nations of the earth develop a greater spirit of cooperation. 

Let it be a year in which the trying problem of integration may resolve itself without bloodshed, strife, bitter words and the acid of hatred. 

May juvenile crime decrease and our youth appreciate the privilege of living in this great and beautiful country and avail themselves of its blessings. May the young be filled with loyalty to our country and devotion to the highest ideals. 

May religion spread its beneficent influence over our land and over the entire world. Let it come down like a bright and radiant beam of light into the hearts of men, women and children everywhere.

Magnin also presided over ceremonies at Home of Peace Memorial Park, 4334 Whittier Blvd., honoring the memories of those who had died in the past year.



He noted that Home of Peace was "the oldest Jewish burial ground in the city of Los Angeles, the resting place of the pioneer Jews of this great community. 

"Those who led in the creation of all things we as Jews enjoy today have been interred here. 

"Their memory lingers with us as a perpetual bequest. Every time we practice justice, every time we do what is good, we do it in the name and spirit of the great giver of the Ten Commandments. Thus Moses did not die, and cannot die, for his work and memory go on. 

"There are many ways of mourning one's loved ones besides shedding a tear and the best way is to carry out the ideals they believed in. Another is to share what we have with people who need our help, and to support good causes such as the arts, education and particularly religion. 

"Supporting a great religious institution and upholding the hands of its leaders is a more tender tribute than laying flowers on a grave."

Flashback: Yom Kippur as celebrated in 1947.

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