Keshet is a national organization that works for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. The organization equips Jewish leaders with tools to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces for queer Jewish teens to feel valued and develop their own leadership skills, and mobilizes the Jewish community to fight for LGBTQ justice. Keshet’s blog spotlights this work, as well as the voices of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and allies.
The Jewish New Year is a time of personal reflection. During the High Holidays, we reflected on the past year, asked for forgiveness from those we have wronged and looked toward the year ahead and how we could improve. This High Holiday season, it seemed like the rest of the country was reflecting with us. The upcoming presidential election has provided an opportunity for us to reflect on the past eight years, and in a month we will cast votes that will partially determine our future for the four years ahead. It is, in many ways, a High Holiday for the nation.
A lot has been written about why this election matters to LGBTQ people and Jews. I’m therefore not writing this piece to talk about the implications this election will have on the LGBTQ community and the Jewish community; rather, I’m writing to share why as LGBTQ Jews we need to care about more than just LGBTQ and religious issues this election.
A lot is at stake this election for LGBTQ people but a lot is at stake for other communities as well. As LGBTQ Jews, we often know what it’s like to be discriminated against or to feel unwelcome. Yet, we cannot just think of ourselves when we vote.
Judaism teaches us that personal reflection is important but that it’s enhanced by community. Most people spend the Holidays with loved ones and friends, whether around the dinner table or in synagogue. It’s not a coincidence that many prayers in Judaism require ten people, a minyan, to be recited—even the most personal is enriched by being part of a community.
When we vote, we need to not just think of ourselves. We need to think of our siblings, our neighbors, our friends. We need to think about the stranger in the community. The person who is facing systematic barriers everywhere they turn. When we vote as LGBTQ Jews, we need to think not just about improving our own community but about improving the larger American community.
If you’re considering staying home this November, remember, this election isn’t just about you. If you can’t bring yourself to vote for yourself, do it for someone else. Elections can’t solve all our problems, but they’re one of the easiest ways we can all express how we want to improve our community.
Earlier this month we observed the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, or the Ten Days of Repentance. Today I ask you to reflect not just on our own shortcomings, but on our nation’s shortcomings as well. And just as on Yom Kippur, when we made a commitment to improving ourselves, let’s make a commitment to improving our nation for everyone when we go to the polls.
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