Early voting has begun in Maryland. Some of you reading this have already voted; it is my sincere hope that everyone reading this (unless you are not yet 18 or not a U.S. citizen) will vote either on Election Day or beforehand, via Absentee Ballot or early voting.
A number of years ago, on the morning of Election Day, I received an email from a classmate which said something along the following lines: “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain. As a Jew, I am terrified of losing my right to complain.”
But the fact of the matter, as I explained in my sermon on Kol Nidre evening, is that throughout most of our history we Jews did not have a right to complain. Both democracy and full citizenship for Jews are relative late arrivals on the scene of world history. We ought to be grateful that we have this opportunity.
Barring a replay of the 2000 election or some other unforeseen occurrence, some of us will go to bed on November 8, or early in the morning of November 9, very happy, and others will go to bed unhappy. But for 220 years, since John Adams took over as president from George Washington, we have been blessed with a peaceful transition of power.
I have written a brief “Prayer Before Voting,” using many of the ideas contained in the Prayer for Our Country we say every Shabbat and holiday. If it speaks to you, I’d be honored for you to use it:
“Eloheinu v’elohai avoteinu v’imoteinu,
Our God and God of our fathers and mothers,
I thank you for the opportunity to cast this vote.
May it strengthen the bonds of unity among all inhabitants of this country. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry, and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of our country.
Creator of all flesh, we know also that the real work begins tomorrow morning. Whether or not I am pleased with the outcome of this election, help me to be a good citizen and work for understanding and reconciliation among all Americans. May we continue to work for the day when none shall hurt or destroy, when justice shall flow like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”