by Rabbi Heidi Cohen
“One opinion was that the character of the generation is determined by its leader. According to the other opinion, the character of the leader is determined by the generation.” (Talmud, Arachin 17a).
Today is one of the greatest days of the year as citizens of the United States of America. Today is the day each of us are responsible for having our voices heard. No matter who one votes for, what proposition one agrees or disagrees with, today is the day during which we are called upon to speak our mind and vote our conscience. This is a great responsibility and one that should not be cast aside. And while it is easy to say, ‘my vote doesn’t matter,’ we must realize that every voice counts. Pirkei Avot teaches us, “Don’t separate yourself from the community,” therefore, we must get out there with the community and vote.
And in doing so, may all people maintain a respectful level of civility. Unfortunately, this election cycle has groups and individuals on all sides acting in ways that reflect bullying and harassment. This is not how we should treat one another. We are taught that each individual is created in the Divine Image and as such, each person should be treated with dignity and respect. Through our civil discourse, we may not always agree with one another, but in the end, we must respect each other.
Please, get out and vote, have your voice heard because you DO matter. And later tonight, tomorrow, or the weeks ahead, no matter the results, we need to remember, we are one country and one people and we have a lot of work to do to care for one another. Let us not be complacent, but let us be respectful, true and kind, today, tomorrow and the weeks ahead so that we can be proud of our community and our country.