Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
It’s Election Day.
I voted early, and thank goodness, because it seems voting today may well be a story of long lines and patience (or impatience). I try to never miss an opportunity to vote, not just for the big nation-diving presidential elections but also for all of the “smaller” elected positions and ballot initiatives and laws that truly shape our daily lives. So I’m kind of a voting veteran– as much as a thirtysomething can be, anyway.
But this year was different, and not just because of the polarizing presidential picks.This was the first year that I voted as a new demographic: A parent.
I went to my polling place, three-and-a-half-month old daughter strapped to me in her Bjorn. She was awake for the first half hour we stood in line (yes, even early voting, there was a wait), greeting her fellow citizens with wide-eyed wonder. By the time I made it into the booth, she had passed out, head resting on my chest. As I slid my card into the electronic voting machine and began making my selections, my eyes misted and my throat went thick.
I’m voting for her, I realized.
Every choice I made was with her in mind – her future, her rights, the world we will be passing on to her. It was one of the first moments I really felt like a parent, valuing her needs over mine and knowing I have to do everything I can to make things better for her. I thought about my father’s parents, who emigrated from Eastern Europe in order to make things better for their children. I thought about my mother’s ancestors, who came from Western Europe and some of whom were native to this land, and the wide range of struggles and strength they represented for me. They made choices that led me to where I am, and now I have the sacred obligation to make my own sacrifices and statements for my daughter.
I cast my ballot. Said a silent Shehecheyanu, feeling thankful for my once-again opportunity to vote and my first-ever opportunity to do it not only as someone with ancestors but as someone who will be an ancestor.
Then I carried my sleeping baby out into the sunshine.
Get out the vote, y’all… and let us say amen.