Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Reflections 2012

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and realize the amazing gifts we have and the miracles that we experience everyday.  In the Modim paragraph of the Amidah, we say these words three times a day, everyday of the year, "We thank You and praise You for our lives that are in Your hand, for our souls that are in Your charge, for Your miracles that daily attend us, and for Your wonders and gifts that accompany us evening, morning, and noon."

I want to tell you about a moment when I realized a miracle that daily attends to us.  Two days ago, we had dinner my parents and my paternal grandfather, who was born on the same day as I was, but in a much different place, and a much different time.  My grandfather, a survivor of the Holocaust from Czechoslovakia, has told me first hand how special this country has been for our family.  Here, we have the right to be equal citizens and to take an active role in choosing our leaders in government.  These are not things to take for granted.

I remember speaking with my uncle (on my mother's side) a couple of years ago about his life in communist Poland.  My maternal grandparents were survivors of the Holocaust from Poland.  After the war, they settled back in Poland and lived under Communism.  We often complain about the choices we have here when it comes to electing officials, but in Communist Poland, there was only one party choice, and it wasn't really a choice.  They too came to America, a land of freedom and opportunity, and they had the opportunity to do something that they had never had for so many years - to step into a small box and vote for a representative.

This is a gift, a miracle that we experience not just during every election, but every day, evening, morning, and noon.  It is not just about the election, but about a system of democracy and freedom.  Every election season, at least one candidate will say, "This is the most important election of our time."  I used to think that this was preposterous statement, but in many ways it's true.  Every election is the most important election of our time, because it is truly a miracle that few in human history have experienced.  And so, as we stand in line today during this election day, do not forget that what you are doing is vitally important, and no matter who wins, your vote does matter.

And if you want a prayer to say, recite the prayer for our country, with an emphasis at the end:


Our God and  God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country- for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority.  Teach them insights from Your Torah, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and
prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst.  Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit.  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.   May this land, under Your providence, be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom- helping them to fulfill the vision of Your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” And let us say, Amen.