Florida’s AG Commissioner Sworn in on Nation’s First Hebrew Bible

Nikki Fried, right, is sworn in as Florida’s commissioner of agriculture on Jan. 8, 2019. Fried’s left hand is placed on the first Hebrew Bible published in America. Photo by Colin Hackley

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.

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

The University of Florida’s
two-volume Hebrew Bible was
printed in 1814 in Philadelphia.
Photo courtesy of Price Library of

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.

Curator Rebecca Jefferson of the university’s Price Library of Judaica had just the book — or books. The library owns a two-volume Hebrew Bible dating to 1814, one of about 100 still remaining that were published in Philadelphia that year using fonts from an older edition printed in Amsterdam. The first volume contains the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible, and the second contains the remaining 19 books. (There are 24 books in the Hebrew Bible, sometimes called the Tanakh.)

At 11 am. Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fried laid her hand on the Hebrew Bible and took 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.”

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.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service