Washington — Presidential historians and convention observers believe this year’s Democratic convention will be the first time that a rabbi gives an invocation before the presidential nominee’s acceptance speech since the advent of modern American political conventions nearly a century ago.
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, will be making history August 28 as he opens the Democratic convention’s last day, in front of an expected crowd of 70,000 in the audience and millions more watching from afar.
The choice of a Jewish religious leader to give the prime-time invocation is only one part of a move by the Democratic Party to raise the profile of faith in its rhetoric and activities, a move from which Jewish religious activists and evangelical Christians seem to be benefiting more than other faiths. Both groups are seen as key constituencies for the Democrats in the November elections.
“This shows how critical the party and the campaign believe the Jewish community is in the upcoming elections,” said Matt Dorf, Jewish outreach coordinator for the Democratic National Committee.