Rabbi Dr. Chaim Wakslak, whose leadership during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is credited with facilitating the recovery and uniting the Long Beach Jewish community, was invited to deliver the invocation for the New York State Assembly on March 6. The invitation was extended by Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Nassau) in recognition of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Wakslak’s efforts which included establishing a close relationship with both the Assemblyman’s Long Beach and Albany offices.
Following the “calling of the house to order,” Rabbi Wakslak delivered the following message and prayer:
“I will have traveled for over three hours to come to Albany today, to deliver an invocation lasting no more than several minutes and then to again travel over three hours to return home. Yet, I find myself deeply honored and privileged to address you in these hallowed chambers.
“I am reminded of the Talmudic passage which relates the story of a student who would travel three months to and from yeshiva, and was called “a one-day rabbinical student” since by the time he arrived he could stay only one day before having to turn around and head home. Yet, he understood that it was worthwhile to travel, based on the value as to what one can accomplish in a single day in yeshiva.
“You see, I stand before you as a son of Holocaust survivors. My parents witnessed the extermination of their entire family and endured the unspeakable tortures of the concentration camps. Once liberated, my parents emigrated to these United States of America where they reestablished themselves as responsible citizens, rebuilt a family while remaining faithful to their tradition and heritage. Unfortunately, my parents of blessed memory are no longer alive but I can only imagine how proud they would be with the knowledge that their son has been invited to deliver the invocation opening this session of the NYS Assembly. I am certain that they never would have imagined such an eventuality. If for no other reason, I express my gratitude to the Honorable Harvey Weisenberg for inviting me to pray with you today and to humbly reflect to you the importance of your roles in being a part of the freedom, tolerance, and democracy which we cherish and which we should never take for granted.
“Dear G‑d of us all, we ask for your blessings upon the Speaker of the House, its leaders, and upon its members.
“May You bless them with your guidance, insight, and wisdom to do their work for the good and benefit of the people of our state—especially now when we continue to reel from the destruction and destabilization of Superstorm Sandy.
“May all the members work together and have the heart and the mind to accomplish Your will to make our state a better place.
“May G‑d empower all of you to carry out your good intents, and pronounce laws that will safeguard our lives and the lives of our children.
“And all of those who occupy themselves faithfully with communal affairs, may the Holy One, Blessed be He, give them their reward, remove from them and their loved ones all sickness, heal their entire body, pardon all of their sins, and send blessing and success to all their endeavors. And let us say, Amen.”
Following the invocation, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Wakslak had the opportunity to meet with Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the Assembly, and with Dean Skelos, State Senate Republican Leader. v