Dear TEE Community,

During the coming weeks we have the privilege and responsibility to participate in our national and local elections. Beginning this Saturday through Sunday November 1st, early voting locations will be open for those who will not be using absentee ballots and, of course, you can vote on Election Day, Tuesday November 3rd.

Some of my earliest memories are of accompanying my parents into the voting booth. Back in those days, it was enclosed by a curtain, making it feel like a very private and special space. My parents instilled in me the understanding that by being in that space I was sharing something very important with them. My father was a Democratic Committee Member and I also remember being allowed to stay up after the polls closed to go check on the vote counts. As an adult, I have been both a poll worker and volunteer in a vote recount. Each of these experiences have left me feeling connected to my role as a citizen working to make our country one that fulfills the promise of liberty and justice for all.

Until recently, it would never have occurred to me that democratic institutions in our country might be under threat. We now live in a time when that is sadly the case — from roll backs to the Voting Rights Act to misinformation campaigns and outright voter intimidation. This makes it all the more imperative for every one of us to participate in whatever way we can. The Reform movement is aiming for 100% congregational voter participation. Please sign the voting pledge so that we can add to that count. There you will also see the excellent resources our Tikkun Olam Team has created to help you vote early and easily.

My Jewish great grandparents were born in countries which did not allow them to be citizens. After coming to the United States, they never took their citizenship for granted. They saw voting as a sacred act, because they knew what it meant to be denied that right along with many others.  As a young person, I saw the violence done to Black Americans standing up for their rights and learned another reason why voting should never be taken for granted. I was part of the generation that fought to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. As a result, I was able to cast my first ballot two weeks after my 18th birthday. I have voted in forty-five elections since then and the experience never fails to move me. This is our great American ritual and as I vote, I think of those whose lives, both in the past and in the present, have brought me to this sacred moment.

Rabbi Drorah Setel