As much as I’d like to write about this week and next week’s Torah portions, I must use this space to urge you to vote! There is a principal in Judaism called dinei d’malchuta dini, the law of the land is the law. This means that Jews are obligated to follow the laws of the land in which we live, unless it leads one to immoral or unethical acts.

In the United States, voting is not a law; it is a free will opportunity to participate in a citizen’s most important act. However, in my opinion, it belongs with dinei d’malchuta dini because it is through voting that laws are determined. Who we elect, especially true in this election, will be the decider for how we will live our lives for at least the next four years if not for generations. We all have our own version of what is moral and what is ethical and what is forgivable and what is not. I daresay all of us are eager for this election to be over and for our country to begin the process of healing and unifying. But do not think your vote does not count! It counts perhaps more this year than any other in recent memory.

I quote part of a message from Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner who represents the Reform Movement to Congress and the administration as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:
“We stand together, all of us, as Reform Jews and as Americans, to protect the right to vote and to participate fully in our democracy. Just as the covenant is for everyone – elders, tribal heads and strangers alike – the right to vote is for all eligible Americans. We can never take our right to vote for granted, and especially not this year, when it is under attack in the wake of the 2013 Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act. This decision paved the way for voter suppression laws in many states specifically designed to make it more difficult for the elderly, people of color and people of limited financial means to exercise their right to the ballot. There is so much at stake in this election – from how the United States will address the global refugee crisis, to how we meet the challenge of climate change, to whether the next president and congress will take steps to reverse the plague of mass incarceration, and much more. With so much on the line, every vote matters.”

Rabbi Debbie Israel