Florida’s ag commissioner to be sworn in on nation’s first Hebrew Bible

Religion News Service | 1/8/2019 | Staff
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(RNS) — President Obama used a Bible belonging to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim member of Congress, took the oath of office on the Quran.

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And on Tuesday (Jan. 8), Nikki Fried, the lone Democrat to win statewide office in Florida, will be sworn in as commissioner of agriculture using the first Hebrew Bible published in America.

Fried, the first Jewish woman to serve in the post in the Sunshine State, called the University of Florida, her alma mater, to ask if there was a special Bible she could use for the occasion.

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At 11 am. Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fried is expected to lay her hand on the two volumes and take the oath of office.

“As the first Jewish woman elected statewide in Florida and an unapologetic Florida Gator I could not be more honored to be sworn in with the first Hebrew Bible printed in the United States from University of Florida’s Judaica Library,” said Fried in a statement. “The symbolism of these firsts represents some of the greatest honors of my life.”

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Scriptures have long been used at inaugurations, beginning with George Washington, who picked a Masonic Bible for his ceremony. Last week, Rashida Tlaib, the new Democratic representative from Michigan, and Ilhan Omar, her counterpart from Minnesota, both used Qurans at the swearing-in ceremonies for the 116th Congress.

But scriptures are not formally required.

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