My Oath of Office

Question

I was recently elected to the City Council of Crawfordsville, Indiana, where I live. There will be a swearing-in ceremony in a couple weeks.

I will be sworn in using a copy of “the Bible” but wasn’t sure if I should use a Chumash or the entire Tanach. Do you happen to know what Senator Joe Lieberman used?

Thank you for your help!

 

Ethan J. Hollander

Associate Professor

Department of Political Science

Wabash College

2 years

Answers

  1. First of all, please accept my “Mazel Tov” on your election! I hope that you serve with distinction and that you make the people of Crawfordsville proud of you!

    I searched around to see if I could find some information about what Senator Lieberman used at his swearing-in ceremony but couldn’t really find anything. I suggest that you try contacting Senator Lieberman directly and ask him. According to my research you can contact Senator Lieberman at: (email address provided)

    There is one important point that I should mention to you. According to Jewish practice one does not make an oath, per se. This is due to the great gravity of an oath, and the potential repercussions for a false or vain oath. The seriousness of oath-making is something that appears to not be appreciated in our times. Although I have never been elected to public office — only class president a long time ago — I’ve been called to serve on jury duty a number of times. Whenever the jurors are being sworn in, I’ve requested that I be allowed to “affirm” instead of “swear.” And although the judges have not always understood this practice, it has always been respected and accepted “due to religious observance.”

    UPDATE: After a short time, Professor Hollander sent us an update to share with our readers, which included the following from Senator Lieberman’s:

    Congratulations on your election, Ethan.
    I think what form of the Bible you put your hand on during the swearing-in is totally up to you. I used a small book with prayers and the Chumash which my father received during World War II.
    Whichever form of the Bible you choose, best wishes in serving your constituents with its values.
    Joe Lieberman

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team