July 24, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 24, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ten Percent of Our Community’s Vote Is NOT Enough

(Courtesy of The Rabbincal Council of Bergen County) Imagine if only 10 percent of your congregation came to shul on Yom Kippur. What if just 10 percent of invited guests came to celebrate a family simcha? Or if only 10 percent of high school seniors got their diplomas at graduation?

These are significant events. Without the participation of the people who matter most, the event feels less meaningful, less worthy, less successful.

We wouldn’t allow such low participation in important events. Yet only 10 percent of the Jewish community showed up to vote in Bergen County’s last state primary election in 2017.

Bergen County has the largest Jewish population of all New Jersey counties. We contribute so much to our community. Given the size of our community, we should not have such a low voter turnout.

We urge every member of the Bergen County Jewish community to vote in the primary election on June 8, 2021. There is so much at stake. We are choosing the candidates for governor, state senators and members of the assembly—officials whose decisions directly affect our families and our fellow citizens, their well-being and quality of life. It doesn’t matter who you vote for—but it does matter that we have a strong voter turnout.

Voting is not just a civic duty, it’s a religious and moral obligation. The Midrash Tanchuma in Mishpatim tells us that if a person sits at home saying “ma li be’torech ha’tzibur?” or why should I worry about the issues in society, it’s as if he is “mecharev ha’olam,” or destroying the world.

We must take an active part in improving our community and the needs of our fellow citizens. As rabbis, we partner with lay leaders and Teach NJ, a project of the Orthodox Union, to advocate for state funding and resources for our community. Together, our efforts have helped secure millions of dollars in state funds for Bergen County yeshiva day schools. This funding provides our schools with security, nurses, remedial services and STEM teachers. It touches every student in our county’s nonpublic schools.

State funding also helps keep our shuls secure, our streets clean, and our neighborhoods safe for all residents of Bergen County. We are grateful that lawmakers not only listen to our concerns but create laws that improve our lives and the lives of all the residents of Bergen County.

By voting, we demonstrate that our community is engaged. Voting also communicates that our community cares about our elected officials. When only 10 percent of our community votes, lawmakers get the impression that their hard work and dedication isn’t appreciated.

Most importantly, the principle of “hakarat hatov,” or recognizing the good, obligates us to say thank you to those whose public service allows us to live in a flourishing Jewish community. In 1984, Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote publicly that Jewish citizens must demonstrate hakaras hatov for our freedoms and benefits by voting.

We agree that each of us is obligated to care about our society and show our hakaras hatov. If you are not yet registered to vote, we recommend that you register today. The deadline is May 18. You can register online—it’s fast and simple. If you are already registered, make a plan now to vote in the primary election on June 8, 2021. You can vote in person or sign up to vote by mail—an easy way to make sure your voice is heard. Tell your friends that you’re voting and encourage them to do the same.

The significance of voting is too important to ignore. The strength of our community hinges on us—and all we have to do is show up.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles