By Max Rosenblum
Did you know that 40 percent of all eligible voters did not cast a ballot in the 2016 Election?
Even more striking, less than half of young adults (age 18-29) voted in 2016. These figures provided the axis point for the particularly poignant High Holy Day sermon delivered by Rabbi Daniel Weiner, who serves as senior rabbi at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle, Washington.
The High Holy Day season is an opportunity for the Jewish community to reflect on our successes and failures of the past year, and think about how we can improve ourselves (and our world) in the year to come. With the 2018 Midterm Elections only six weeks away, Rabbi Weiner’s sermon strikes a cord for progressive Jews around the country, and those of us at the Jewish Center for Justice who are actively involved in efforts to Get Out The Vote (GOTV) and protect access to the ballot box.
As good and full citizens of these United States, Rabbi Weiner says, it is our obligation to secure the stability and the wellbeing of the nation that has given us so much. This mandate, this responsibility, this mitzvah to vote as Jews in America is also informed by our tradition, he continues. “If politics is morality made real in the public square, then we possess a wealth of values to inform and inspire the call of the ballot box.”
While watching Rabbi Weiner’s roughly 15-and-a-half minute call-to-action, one particular verse stood out (beginning at 9:07):
In a few short words, two key acts of this season come to symbolize the larger hopes for our lives and for our world. The first word, lishmoa, like the Shma prayer, requires us to hear, to listen, to truly take to heart the voice of others as we do God’s voice. And kol shofar, the voice of the shofar, that singular and searing sound of conscience and call to action, is a voice whose power lies in our willingness to amplify it in the world.
It doesn’t feel like a coincidence that the holiest time in the Jewish calendar closely precedes one of the holiest acts we can participate in as Americans and citizens of a democracy. We encourage you to watch Rabbi Weiner’s full sermon, and really reflect on his words. If you are moved by his call, think about getting involved in GOTV efforts in your community. Don’t know where to start or how to get involved? Contact the Jewish Center for Justice – we’re engaged in GOTV campaigns across the country and would love to work with you to amplify your voice and ensure voter turnout on November 6.
Max Rosenblum is the communications manager for the Jewish Center for Justice. To reach out about GOTV opportunities, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.