Colors: Green Color

By the time you read this, we may well know the result of the Special Election for the City Council. But if you think there will be a respite from politics, guess again. The big election this year will be the Primary on June 22. The winner has already started running for re-election and potential opponents are already gearing up. They will start collecting signatures to get on the ballot in less than three weeks.

Recently, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, was summoned to a meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. This might not seem like a big deal to you – after all, he was simply asked to attend a meeting, right? Wrong! In the diplomatic world of ambassadors, being “summoned to a meeting” is the equivalent of being asked to see the principal in high school for something you did – not good!

Many of us would not consider ourselves political individuals and do not put going to the polls on our list of priorities. Nonetheless, casting your ballot gives you a voice on issues ranging from housing and education to employment and healthcare. Being involved in the voting process allows you make a real difference in the makeup and decisions within your community. Casting a vote has dire consequences for the quality of life that both you and your family experience today and in the years ahead. From riding the bus or train to raising minimum wage to getting better textbooks in school, your vote decides how these issues will play out. Casting your ballot affords you the opportunity to delegate how your hard-earned tax dollars are divvied out for necessities like medical expenses and social services that many take for granted.

I was asked a simple question the other morning, just before davening: “Why doesn’t Israel just finish the job?” The question came from a dear friend who made aliyah from the United Kingdom close to eight years ago. He and his wife love their life in Israel and regret only one thing: not coming earlier. He admits that politics never interested him, and only recently has started following the tennis match of Israeli political viewpoints. Everybody he talks to tries pulling him in his ideological direction, and while he appreciates the education, he has become quite confused. So, what does one do when he is confused about Israeli politics? He speaks to me, and I confuse them even more!

I remember it like it happened yesterday. The year was 1979 and I was studying in BMT – Bet Midrash L’Torah, in Jerusalem. It was time for our first tiyul, and our guide, Eli Horowitz, son of our Rosh Yeshivah, was leading the hike. (Sad note: 24 years later, Rabbi Eli Horowitz and his wife, Adina, were brutally murdered by Arabs. May Hashem avenge their blood.) Eli, who had not yet been ordained as a rabbi, was an amazing guide and told us to take water and a Tanach (Bible) for the tiyul.

In the last few days, I have been asked the same question, 1,000 times: “What’s going to be with our beloved Israel?” and my answer has always been the same: “The future is bright! Things are going to be great, and I am not worried at all.” One second – not worried about the protests? Not worried about the hatred in the eyes of the Left? Not worried about the lack of unity among the people? No, no, and again, no! I am not worried, and let me explain why.