Democrat Josh Shapiro took the oath of office to become the 48th governor of Pennsylvania placing his hand on a stack of three Jewish Bibles. The 49 year old takes over in the nation’s fifth-most populous state with more experience in state government than any of his recent predecessors, including six years as Pennsylvania’s elected attorney general.
Chief Justice Debra Todd administered the oath, with lawmakers, ex-governors, members of Congress and several thousand others looking on.
“I am humbled to stand before you today as Pennsylvania’s 48th governor,” Shapiro said at the start of his remarks from the podium. “Along the winding road that has led to this moment, I have been grounded in my faith and family.”
The ceremony included three bibles for the swearing-in: a personal family bible that Shapiro has used for every public office swearing-in since 2005; a Hebrew bible provided by the Tree of Life Synagogue; and a bible provided by the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History carried by Herman Hershman, a Philadelphian and a Corporal Technician 5th Grade in World War II, who earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart after landing with the First Division on Omaha Beach on D-Day.
Shapiro emphasized themes that he has developed before and after the election: that voters are embracing democracy, rejecting extremism and asking their leaders to protect their rights and make progress on important quality-of-life issues.
“Now is the time to join together behind the unifying strength of three simple truths that have sustained our nation over the past two-and-a-half centuries: that above all else, beyond any momentary political differences, we value our freedom, we cherish our democracy, and we love this country,” said Shapiro.
The inaugural ceremony included performances by Lincoln University Choir, Pennsylvania State Police Honor Guard, African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Choir, Pittsburgh Youth Chorus, Hazleton High School Marching Cougars, and Roland Scarinci, a World War II veteran and Philadelphia native, who lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
On stage with Shapiro were just over a dozen people he invited — including survivors of child sexual abuse, parents of children killed by gun violence and the widows of two state troopers killed in the line of duty — who aides say symbolize his accomplishments as attorney general and his bipartisan policy aims as governor.