Skip to main content



That's an estimate of eligible voters who made their way to the polling booths in my town's most recent local election. 20%. That means that if that election had been a Shabbat morning minyan, 8 Jews turned over their most precious civic right and privilege to 2 people. The "good" news is that in a national election, the town might get 80% of eligible voters showing up. This is good news?

I learned this today when I picked up absentee ballot applications for my three children this afternoon. I've voted absentee in local elections - as frustrating as it was to watch my vote go up in glorious defeat once, it was very satisfying to know that my vote in a recent election might have been the one that made the difference.

But those percentages really bothered me, so I did some research.

Out of about 200 countries:
1. 23 have compulsory elections (the rest are considered "universal" or voluntary);
2. 2 have an upper age limit;
3. 4 countries do not allow members of the military or police to vote;
4. 1 country requires voters to be "literate;"
5. 1 country requires a 20-year citizenship.
6. 1 country does not permit women to vote; 1 country only started letting women vote in 2005; 1 country only allows women with an "elementary education" to vote.

People, I could go on and on about immigrants, slaves or women dying to get the vote in the United States. I could rant about countries where it is compulsory to vote - openly - for the single candidate (see: Russia, Egypt, etc.).

And you'd yawn and say, "yeah yeah there she goes again."

But come on, people - what will it take for US voting age citizen to get off their butts and get into the polling booths? How many of our rights will have to be taken away before we finally get it?

If you're not a registered voter - register now (this is the Connecticut registration application) - there is a deadline.

If you are a registered voter but need to vote absentee, get your application to receive a ballot NOW - there is a deadline for this, too, because the clerks need to send you a ballot in a timely manner so you can get your ballot in on time.

So I will say it: many of our grandparents and great grandparents would have died - literally - for the right to vote. So would all those men (and women) in countries with one candidate that you better vote for if you know what's good for you.

But you and I don't have to die for it ... just take a few minutes and make it happen.


Popular posts from this blog

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5777: WAIT

I got the best advice from my son: "Mom, why are you even engaging with these people? Please stop."

I've got people on Facebook who - while holding similar philosophies in some areas - are 180 degrees from me politically. I long ago determined that arguing with these people is counterproductive, only useful if I believe - science notwithstanding - that heartrate-raising arguments is equal to a good cardio workout.

And so my goal for today is to WAIT (by the way, not an original concept - I learned it from Rabbi Andy Sklarz): Why Am I Talking?

Provocateurs and bullies want to be engaged. They poke, someone responds, and the game is afoot. Like fire, they need constant air renewal. So if don't engage, don't respond, they will run out of air.

So for today, I grit my teeth ... and wait.

Elul 23: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 6:50 (Begin)

Someone I knew hated the expression "new beginning" because it was redundant. The argument was that beginning implies new, right?

Not necessarily. A "do-over" is a beginning of sorts that acknowledges that the first try got muffed up. "Start again, from the beginning" and "begin again" are phrases I use regularly with students and choir singers. A "new" beginning is an attitude, a mindset, an awareness that we have a chance to do something with a fresh take, a new vision. 

Even  בראשית ברא אלוהים, B'reishit bara Elohim, the first words in the Bible, are translated frequently as "when God was beginning," implying that starting this new venture was an ongoing event. It's suggested that God had given this new world thing a go several times already, was about to abandon the effort, and only the angels' intervention gave God the oomph to give it another try ... this time with feeling (as the saying goes).

We're about …

Elul 21: The airline safety guide (Love)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Adonai. (Lev. 19:18)

You shall love the stranger that dwells with you (who will be for you like the native-born among you), as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am Adonai, your God. (Lev. 19:34)

And you shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might ... (Deut. 6:5)

If you've paid attention to your flight attendant, you know that in the event of an emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on first. Only then do you help someone next to you, including a child. Why? Because if you don't have oxygen, you're useless to anyone else.

It's the same with love.

Start by loving and caring for yourself. It's not selfish; it's just a place to start.

Then move outward: your neighbor, your community, the strangers around you.

Then, finally, the realm of God: the spiritual love that holds all the others together.

But it all starts in your own home.