Posted on October 24th, 2016

Elections: Elevating the Conversation

For many in our country and congregations this has been an exhausting election cycle. From the primaries to the pundits, from the name-calling to the rhetoric, congregants seek to come to the synagogue to escape the talk. But the synagogue can be that one place in our society where we can elevate the conversation from the mundane to the holy. We do not have to engage in political or partisan discussion, but each election is another reminder of our freedom and unique position in the American landscape. Here are a series of questions and suggestions to spark safe and meaningful conversation about the election:

  • If you are unsure of what you can and cannot say or what you can and cannot do as a 501c3 organization this Religious Action Center publication will serve a guide to help you navigate the conversation.
  • Does your congregation serve as a polling location? If yes, discuss the exciting opportunity for our House of Worship to welcome all citizens to engage in the blessing of voting.
  • Are there first time voters in your congregation? Have you shared with them and their families the various blessings for voting that our colleagues have created? Have you asked them to share their thoughts about voting?
  • Are there propositions and measures on the ballot that our Reform Jewish community has supported? Remember that as 501c3 organizations we can take positions on ballot propositions and measures, many of which have been ignored in this election cycle yet have the potential to mend some of the brokenness in our communities.

Our ability to engage in the election process is one of the many reasons our ancestors made the long and hard journey to this country. May we elevate the discussion and show our children and our community the beauty of this democracy.

Rabbi Joel Thal Simonds is the West Coast Legislative Director for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Rabbi Simonds also serves as Associate Rabbi at University Synagogue in Los Angeles, California.