By Jeremy Cronig
On March 24, I marched in Washington, DC with hundreds of thousands of my peers. Feeling compelled to act, we descended on our nation’s capital because we felt hopeless. My generation is not lazy. My generation is not apathetic. Young people will have our voices heard. To do so, we must vote this November. No matter our political party affiliation or beliefs, we must participate in electing a government that represents our values and viewpoints. We have all heard the statistics about youth voting participation: Only 20% of people aged 18-29 voted in the 2014 midterm elections. I believe that it is on us, especially as Jews, to make voting as accessible as possible and to work to positively involve others in the democratic process.
This reasoning is why I took the semester off from my studies at Ohio State to work full-time for Hillel International as their Civic Engagement Campaign Manager. In this role, I work on MitzVote, a campaign powered by Hillel, which helps students vote and provides resources to Jewish students who wish to mobilize their campuses in a non-partisan manner. By forming partnerships with other campus organizations that care about voting and democracy, sharing stories through social media, and hosting poll parties, my generation has the unique opportunity to become the most engaged first-time voters in our nation’s history. I’m especially proud to be engaged in this campaign as a Jew.
In Jewish tradition, our B’nai Mitzvah is a milestone, a moment when we ascend to adulthood. Our first time voting in the United States is no less significant of a milestone as this time we ascend to adulthood in our democracy. We have an obligation — both a moral and civic one — to make our voices heard, and to stand up for our values because the ability to vote is one of the most essential rights of any thriving democracy.
I’m also happy to be engaged in this role with the Jewish Center for Justice. Over the past year I’ve had the incredible opportunity to serve on the board of JCJ and engage college students in our work. JCJ is one of the many national partners with Hillel on MitzVote, and is working to connect students with leadership opportunities on their campuses.
Whether you send in an absentee ballot or cast your vote at the ballot box on November 6, it is important that we — as the next generation of activists and leaders — set an example for the generations to follow that engaging in our election process is as Jewish as bagels and lox.
Jeremy Cronig works as Hillel’s Civic Engagement Campaign manager. Originally from Shaker Heights, OH, he currently studies Policy Analysis and Economics at The Ohio State University. He previously served as the North American President of NFTY and now serves on Jewish Center for Justice Board, the Goldman Union Camp Advisory Board, and the Commision on Social Action of Reform Judaism. Jeremy works to involve youth in change-making opportunities in many capacities.