JCRC Director's Note

We Will Speak. And We Will Be Heard.

Max Patashnik Headshot

October 29, 2020

The foundation of our democracy is a free, fair, safe, and respected election process. 

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, one of the leading Orthodox rabbis of the past generation wrote, 

On reaching the shores of the United States, Jews found a safe haven. The rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights have allowed us the freedom to practice our religion without interference and to live in this republic in safety. A fundamental principle of Judaism is hakaras hatov—recognizing benefits afforded us and giving expression to our appreciation. Therefore, it is incumbent upon each Jewish citizen to participate in the democratic system which guards the freedoms we enjoy. The most fundamental responsibility incumbent on each individual is to register and to vote.

Throughout history, Jews have often faced violence and persecution and have been excluded from participating in democracy. In the U.S., the well-being of the Jewish community has been intrinsically tied to our ability to access and participate in our democratic institutions. It is incumbent upon us to engage with, support, and advocate for equitable access to these systems of democracy that have allowed our community to thrive — and work to ensure all communities have this same opportunity. 

Our nation lives up to its democratic principles when each of us works to uphold the basic elements of a free and fair election, including: 

  • All who are eligible to vote must be able to do so safely, free from intimidation;

  • Every legally cast ballot must be counted in a fair and transparent manner, including ballots delayed due to circumstances beyond a voter’s control;

  • All candidates and parties must uphold the true election results and adhere to the well-defined policies in place to uphold the will of the people.

A wise JCRC colleague shared this beautiful selection of rituals, blessings and prayers for election day, voting, and for our elected leaders. In reading through the offerings, I found inspiration in this blessing by Trisha Arlin. Trisha writes

“Breath of the Universe,
This year the voting booth
Is the most important sukkah.
We look out from that open space
And count the stars.  

Blessed be democracy,
However imperfect. 

We will speak
And we will be heard
And we will not be interrupted.”

Do your part to uphold our free and fair election and to sustain and strengthen our imperfect democracy. Make your voice heard. Vote. 

Max Patashnik
Director of JCRC and Government Affairs