That’s right y’all. Tomorrow, Thursday night, Saperstein will be offering the opening invocation on the final evening of the Democratic National Convention, the night that Obama will give his historic nomination acceptance speech, on the 45th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. No pressure, right?

According to the Forward, this is quite probably the first time a Rabbi, a Jewish faith leader, offers the invocation before a presidential nomination acceptance.

The move to include faith leaders in a prominent role at the DNC, and to be rooted in a politics of faith, shouldn’t surprise anyone. Look at how many speeches are ending with what I’d call the old and tired slogan of “God Bless You and God Bless America?” But more importantly, look at the very long, long, long history of religion world wide in shaping who we are as individuals, as a nation, and as part of a global world.

When it comes to politics, we know all too well that the separation of church and state isn’t 100% (hehemm, I mean it’s still even called separation of *church* and state) — from the Supreme Court judges who rule based on their principles of faith, to local initiatives like those being pushed in CT by anti-abortion groups — there are overt and covert ways in which faith and politics are never kept totally separate in the political shape of who we are as a nation. We poll voters based on their religious practices because it does tell us something about their politics. We start outreach organizations during elections rooted in faith traditions. We mobilize in churches and synagogues throughout the years, all knowing that community change has a long standing place in faith practice.

Of course, there are no absolutes. For as many times as we can point to how faith has been a promising tool, we can point to the many times it’s been used against us. For the many that are believers, there are many who do not believe, who are not called to their work for justice and equality because of their faith traditions.

Yet, there’s no denying, that while many of us celebrate and call for a separation of church and state, many people are moved and spoken to by the teachings of their faith. So, can there ever be a clean and clear distinction between policies keeping church and state separate, and mobilizing people to act on their political interests and political will rooted in their faith traditions, without imposing those traditions on others? Is this possible?

Mobilizing faith communities for change, calling for a new beginning, whether during election time, or not, has a long history in our country, from slavery to Civil Rights, to the Labor Movement and more. So much has been rooted in faith, tradition, and our ability to use faith as an instrument for changing our communities, not just our individual paths. Do we not have this conversation all the time today in Jewish communities, that many people are moved by their Jewish faith and tradition in the call for tikkun olam, for tzedek, tzedek tirdof (justice, justice you shall pursue)? Is this not the bedrock of Saperstein’s work at the Reform Action Center (RAC)?

Now, the RAC may not be where I go to find my personal inspiration in faith politics, or a politics of faith. And am I wondering if Saperstein will take on this role, not as a political person of faith, but rather as a faith leader holding politics, politicians, and those in power to the highest of ideals? You know I sure am.

But am I surprised to find Saperstein being given the honor of the shofar blast tomorrow night? No, no I’m not. I’m even trying to not be bitter about the all too easy equation of asking a Rabbi for the first time as almost undoubtedly politically motivated when this is the worst election year ever for Democrats in holding Jewish voters (around 40% of Jews are polled as voting Republican–yuck). I’m going to muster up my own personal annoyance to say good! Do it! Bring Saperstein! If it’ll knock more sense into Jewish voters to stop thinking McCain would ever be a good choice for us in these political times, then go ahead! Should we have been there before? Yes. But do we really need Jewish faith leaders to be present now? Even more undoubtedly, yes.

So, I’ll be interested to watch Saperstein in action. But, I’ll also still be thinking about this tension between a politic of separation of church and state, one I do hold very dear, and the promise of faith politics in moving so many in our country in this much needed direction of change, change, change.