Freedom of religion is critically important to
many Utahnsâ€”as it should be. Our state was
founded by an oppressed minority seeking
sanctuary from religious persecution. Facing
violence and discrimination at every turn,
Utahâ€™s early settlers crossed the continent
in search of a place to practice their religion
free from prejudice and abuse. In the cradle of
the Rocky Mountains, they found a home.
As a descendant of Utah pioneers, I have
tremendous sympathy for religious minorities,
especially those who have fled oppression.
Thatâ€™s why I was deeply touched by the
story of six Jewish Rabbis who asked for my help
in recovering holy texts that had been
confiscated by the Soviet government.
For the last 25 years, these rabbisâ€”who
are devout members of an Orthodox Jewish sect
Chabad-Lubavitchâ€”have sought to
recover a collection of sacred books which are
central to their religious life. Seized by the
Soviets at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution,
these texts are still held by the Russian
Like many Utahns, our Jewish brothers and
sisters are a record-keeping people who cherish
the word of God and look to holy scripture as a
source of identity and inspiration. As a person
of faith myself, I was moved by the earnest
entreaty of these six Rabbis and their sincere
desire to reclaim these religious records for the
benefit of future generations.
Thatâ€™s why I personally lobbied my
Senate colleagues to join me in the effort to
restore these texts to their rightful owners.
Most recently, I drafted a letter signed by all
100 members of the Senate urging the State
Department to request that the Russian government
return these texts to Chabad without delay.
I was humbled when my rabbi friends visited me
recently and even blessed a Mezuzah for the door
of my Capitol office as a token of their
gratitude. This powerful spiritual experience
only reinvigorated my commitment to protect
religious liberty for people of all
faithsâ€”be they Mormon or Muslim, Jewish or
Catholic, Buddhist or Hindu. Defending religious
freedom has long been a hallmark of my career,
and it will continue to be my top priority in the