During a commencement speech at Harvard University last week, the dad told graduates about a bedtime ritual he’s established with his 1-year-old daughter Max.
Zuckerberg, who was raised Jewish, said that he often turns to a Jewish prayer called “Mi Shebeirach” to round out the day with his child.
“I am reminded of a prayer ‘Mi Shebeirach,’ that I say whenever I face a big challenge,” the 33-year-old tech entrepreneur said at the end of the speech. “That I sing to my daughter, thinking of her future when I tuck her in at night. And it goes, ‘May the source of strength who has 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,” Zuckerberg told Harvard’s class of 2017 on Thursday.
Watch the full commencement speech below.
Zuckerberg was referring to a Jewish prayer for healing that is traditionally said for friends or loved ones who are struggling with physical, emotional or spiritual challenges. The prayer can be personalized depending on the occasion or the individual needing healing, so there are a number of different versions of the Mi Shebeirach. It is customary for the person seeking God’s blessing to also pledge charity to someone else.
The Mi Shebeirach prayer Zuckerberg uses appears to have been popularized by Rabbi Drorah Setel, a Reform Jewish leader from Rochester, New York, and the late Jewish singer-songwriter, Debbie Friedman. The Washington Post reports that many American synagogues use Friedman’s musical interpretation of the Mi Shebeirach during services.
Listen to a recording of Mi Shebeirach by Debbie Friedman below.
Although Zuckerberg has identified as an atheist in the past, he’s become more of a spiritual seeker in recent years.
His openness to religion became apparent last December, when Zuckerberg wished Facebook users a “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.” A commenter responded to the post by asking, “Aren’t you an atheist?” Zuckerberg 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.”
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