Rabbi Marvin Hier, one of the religious leaders who offered a prayer at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration on Friday, was met with a wave of anti-Semitic comments on social media.
In his 2-minute blessing, Hier prayed: “Eternal God, bless President Donald J. Trump and America, our great nation…[and] all of our allies around the world who share our beliefs,” and cited a Psalm remembering Zion and Jerusalem.
Heir faced criticism for his participation from some in the Jewish community who said Trump’s presidential campaign targeted minorities and at times invoked tropes that many, including the Anti-Defamation League, considered anti-Semitic.
The rabbi’s own Simon Wiesenthal Center, in a 2016 report on global anti-Semitism, noted that a prominent group of neo-Nazis had embraced Trump and that Jewish journalists critical of the Republican presidential candidate were frequently targeted with anti-Semitic tweets.
After Hier delivered the prayer on Friday afternoon, the 77-year-old rabbi became the target of hundreds of racist and anti-Semitic messages from US viewers watching the inaugural events online.
The messages — some from social media accounts prominently affiliated with white supremacist movements — called to “light the Jew on fire,” or claimed “the Jew put a spell on us,” while others made references to Hitler and gas chambers.
Hier was among six faith leaders to accept the invitation to participate in the inauguration. The others included Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, and Franklin Graham, a prominent Christian evangelist.
Ahead of the ceremony, Hier said he believed that “all of us should pray for [Trump’s] great success, because his great success means our great success.”
He added that accepted the invitation from the Trump team because “it was the menschlichkeit thing to do,” using the Yiddish word meaning honorable, “and I am proud to do it.”
Hier said his participation would be in line with previous blessings he offered to a bipartisan array of presidents and presidential candidates over the past three decades, though never as part of inaugural festivities. He is also a longtime family friend of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Hier is believed to be the first rabbi to speak at a presidential inauguration since 1985.