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Are you paying attention to the election?

Last night at a wonderful interfaith event with many partners, including the Imadadul Islamic Centre, the Interfaith Dialogue Institute, I was asked: “Are you paying attention to the election?”

The person asking was referring to the Canadian Election, and in the context of this interfaith event, was focusing on the political oppression of Muslims and Jews who wear religious symbols publicly in Quebec… but I, of course, thought I were referring to the Israeli elections, which concluded yesterday with an ‘up in the air’ result.

Before the election, my Israeli friends mentioned that they felt exhausted by the advertising and buzz, as this is the second election this year.

Following the election they are: 1) excited by the possibility of what various coalitions could look like, 2) tired of the sitting Prime Minister’s electioneering practices, and 3) excited to see what happens with an Arab list that shows much more involvement with the State of Israel.  It is this last point, the hope and dreams expressed through the Arab vote, and not the specifics of the Jewish vote, which I hope we will see the most analysis of and support for in the coming days.

Our Shinshiniyot are here during the election season. Here is a preview of the reflection Lior Cohen will share in family service this Shabbat, which deserves our rapt attention and thanks for her service starting here in Canada:

I want to share my voting experience with you.

I’ll first say that I think that it’s so important to be politically involved, but for me, it was so hard. It was hard for me to be able to use both my right and responsibility to vote in this election. After all, voting is serious. I was so excited to use this privilege, as a woman, as an adult, as an Israeli. I was finally old enough to vote, to be able to have an effect on and possibly make change for my country.

 Why was it so hard for you Lior, you may ask? It was so hard for me to decide who I want to vote for because the whole process felt like child’s play. Instead of feeling like I am voting for the government elections, to vote in the future leader of Israel, I felt like I was voting for the student council of my high school.

 The entire focus of this election seemed like a catty exchange between a group of teenagers, not adult. The candidates focused on bring each other down and shaming their opponents instead of talking about themselves and the changes they would make to the country and her people.

 These election campaigns were terrible to watch, like a day-time soap opera, very little substance and a whole lot of drama. The conversations between candidates were negative and the focus was not in the right place. This is so unbelievable.

 For the first time in my life, I was listening to politics, mostly because I could finally vote. I don’t need you, dear candidates, to tell me why the other candidates are not good, I need you to tell me why YOU are good, why should I vote for you. Do you think is that too much to ask for? I don’t think so. Daily life in Israel has so much beauty and potential, yet it is not a perfect country, like any country. We need leaders who will be positive and help create a dream for us all to build together to make a reality.

 As a grown person, I’m expected and want to understand the political map, to form strong opinions, to form new opinions, and to know who will lead us to build a better life for all the citizens. I am hopeful that our elected government will be able to make right from the wrongs of their election campaign style.

 I voted this week in my first election. Let’s hope that there will be many more but that our future leaders will begin to focus on the things that matter to the people, and not just to win a fight.

I hope we stay involved in all of the important elections that will inform our future here in Canada, in Israel and around the world.

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