A Prayer for President Biden and America

US President Joe Biden delivers his speech after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, US, January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Incoming presidents are always faced with challenges; no one enters the White House on a free ride. Ever-present threats and national and international realities force each president to respond and react, at times with immediacy, and at others with forceful diplomatic deliberation.

For President Joe Biden, however, the forces he faces — both nationally and internationally — are grave, frightening, hazardous, and seemingly overwhelming.

At home and abroad, he faces a universal pandemic that has taken more than 400,000 American lives, and millions of lives worldwide. Economies have faltered and contracted. Millions upon millions of lives have changed drastically due to job losses, forced hunger, potential evictions, and countless other economic and social challenges.

The latest attempted insurrection and takeover of Congress has shown the world what a divided, earthquake-stricken nation we have become, as competing divisions run deep and disunity prevails everywhere you look.

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And as COVID-19 takes its devastating toll, other countries are still able to find ways and means to deliberately threaten and destroy the lives of others in a variety of real and potential tragic circumstances.

China’s creation of concentration camps, built to commit crimes of murder and ethnic cleansing against Muslim Uyghurs as well as ethnic Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, echo policies of a tyranny that conceived the names of Auschwitz and Treblinka. And we should not forget its takeover of Hong Kong, and the imposition of the very worst of Chinese Communist policies that threaten the lives of so many on that island.

Elsewhere, Russia continues in its stride of undermining American policies everywhere, suppressing its own people and others from Georgia to Syria, while also hacking into the highest levels of the American government, an action that should have been declared an act of war against the United States. And Iran, of course, seeks to threaten the world with its sprint to armed nuclear parity.

All this, and more, is the new world that President Joe Biden and his administration inherit. We pray that President Biden finds the resoluteness and confidence that will allow him to be the leader who faces potential disaster both at home and abroad — and comes through with stratospheric success.

Chaim Landau is Rabbi Emeritus of the Ner Tamid Congregation in Baltimore, Maryland.


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