Rabbi and Cardinal to Pray at GOP Convention

August 28, 2012  

The Republicans are covering themselves religiously, turning to an orthodox rabbi to open the convention and a Cardinal to close it.

Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik, nephew of the late modern Orthodox Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, said, “It is an extraordinary privilege to deliver an invocation at a cherished ritual of American democracy.” He is to deliver the opening invocation on Tuesday, one day later than planned, due to the threat of Hurricane Isaac, which has passed the convention host city of Tampa, Florida.

Rabbi Soloveitchik was a candidate to replace British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who is retiring next month.

The 35-year-old rabbi graduated from Yeshiva University and earned a doctorate in religion at Princeton University.

The convention’s closing benediction will be delivered by New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, considered the most prominent American Catholic leader. Cardinal Dolan he would deliver a prayer but would not make an official endorsement of Romney.  

An overwhelming majority of Jews voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, and he is expected to win a smaller majority in November.

Most Catholics also voted for Obama, but Peter Flaherty, a Catholic adviser to Mitt Romney, told The New York Times, “We’re going to have outreach to Catholics in a coordinated, organized effort — state by state, diocese by diocese, parish by parish and pew by pew.”

Catholic leaders, as well as Rabbi Soloveitchik, have been critical of President Obama’s insistence that religious schools and institutions’ insurance plans include birth control coverage.

The president’s support of same-sex marriage also has angered many Catholics.

In Obama’s favor for the Catholic vote is his Catholic running mate, Vice President Joseph Biden, but the presumptive GOP Vice President nominee Paul Ryan also is a Catholic.

President Obama won the Catholic vote by approximately nine percent in 2008, but a recent Gallup poll gave Romney a small lead.

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