Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered the commencement speech at Harvard’s graduation. And he ended his 20-minute speech with something you might not have expected: a prayer.
Here’s what he said at the end of the speech:
“Before you walk out those gates one last time, as we sit in front of Memorial Church, I am reminded of a prayer, Mi Shebeirach, that I say whenever I face a challenge, that I sing to my daughter thinking about her future when I tuck her into bed. It goes:
“‘May the source of strength, who blessed the ones before us, help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing.‘
“I hope you find the courage to make your life a blessing. Congratulations, Class of ’17! Good luck out there.”
According to one Jewish website, there are many versions of the “Mi Shebeirach” prayer, which takes its name from the first two words in Hebrew which mean “May he who blesses.”
Though he was raised Jewish, Zuckerberg publicly identified as an atheist for years until this last Christmas. He posted a Christmas/Hanukkah message on his Facebook page, which prompted someone to ask him in a comment about whether he was still an atheist. He responded: “No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.”
At the time, he gave no further information about exactly what his religious beliefs were now. His use of a Jewish prayer in his Harvard speech may indicate that he has returned in some fashion to his Jewish roots.
Last year, Zuckerberg and his wife met Pope Francis at the Vatican. “It was a meeting we’ll never forget,” Zuckerberg said of it. “You can feel [Pope Francis’] warmth and kindness, and how deeply he cares about helping people.”
Here’s a video of his speech (his prayer starts around 21:25):
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