It’s voting season!
Last week Israelis took to the polls, and this week it is America’s turn. This was the second time that I have voted in an Israeli election. It was the second time that I stood in the voting booth as a Jew and cast my vote, one that affects the destiny of my people.
The first time that I participated in elections as a citizen of Israel, I was moved to tears. I thought about my grandparents, who were Holocaust survivors, and how they and their families were at the mercy of another nation. There was no Jewish country or army that could help them, either. Jews around the world were at the whims of the countries in which they lived.
Since the Jewish people were exiled from Israel nearly 2,000 years ago, we have been forced to live in countries that were not our own. At times, governments or rulers were kind to the Jews, but more often than not, Jewish people were seen as second-class citizens with limited rights. For many centuries, Jews could not vote or have any voice in the countries where they lived. In the worst-case scenarios throughout history, Jews were persecuted, expelled, or killed, and there was nothing anyone could say or do about it.
Having the privilege to vote in Israel made me realize how lucky we are – both in Israel and in America – to live in democratic countries where we do have a voice.
The first time I voted in Israel my husband and I took pictures, wore nice clothing, and celebrated the event. It felt like a sacred moment, and in many ways it was. We are living in amazing, prophetic times – one in which the Jewish people have sovereignty for the first time in 2,000 years. For the first time in millennium, Jews can have a say in their own destiny.
Jews cherish and honor freedom. In Israel, all citizens, Jewish or not, are treated as equal citizens with equal rights. Every Israeli over the age of 16 is free to cast his or her vote. And while our voting choices may not always correlate with that of the majority, nothing can stop any Israeli from having a voice.
Ultimately, “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD” (Proverbs 21:1). God is in control of the thoughts and actions of our leaders. Yet, we have a responsibility to do our part – to take a stand and to declare our values through our choices on the ballot. Every vote, no matter which party or which person it is for, is a vote for democracy and a future of freedom.
As a Jew living in Israel, I don’t think I will ever vote without getting emotional about the fact that I can vote. Today Americans have a chance to vote and affect the future of the United States. It is a gift, it is sacred, and it is an opportunity that we must never take for granted.