By COLlive reporter
A Chabad rabbi has given an invocation two days after the United States Supreme Court ruled that prayers at town and city council meetings do not violate the U.S. constitution.
The case split the court 5-4 along its conservative-liberal divide, with Justice Anthony Kennedy delivering the majority opinion that permitted prayers at Greece, N.Y., town board meetings.
“Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this Nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government to alter or define,” Justice Kennedy wrote.
“Willing participation in civic affairs can be consistent with a brief acknowledgement of their belief in a higher power, always with due respect for those who adhere to other beliefs,” he wrote on Monday.
On Wednesday, Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin delivered an invocation at the Mayor and Council Meeting in the City Hall of Tucson, Arizona, and called for greater civility in public discussions.
Ceitlin, Outreach Director of Chabad of Tucson and Associate Rabbi of Congregation Young Israel of Tucson, spoke in front of a full crowd, including Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, members of the Council and Chief of Police Roberto Villasenor.
He mentioned the current mourning period in remembrance of the tragic death of the 24,000 disciples of great sage Rabbi Akiva who died in a plague in the weeks between Passover and Shavuot.
“We’re told that there was no generation richer in the scholarship of Torah, wisdom and good deeds than that generation. Yet tragedy has befallen them,” Ceitlin said.
“The Talmud ascribes the plague to their inability to treat each other with respect. Their discussions, debates and disagreements were intelligent and enlightened, but they lacked dignity and honor in dealing with their colleagues.”
He called elected officials to be “selfless, devoted, visionary, courageous and above all, humble,” and quoted from the Rebbe that “the role of government is to balance communal and individual good. This is only possible when society is governed by the principals of morality and justice, law and order, under one G-d.”