By Rabbi Paul Sidlofsky
Though Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the High Holy Days, are late in our secular calendar, they will soon once again be upon us. I am honored to have been asked to bring words of greeting at this important time from my family, from Temple Isaiah and from my own heart.
One message contained in the High Holy Day liturgy is that at this time of year, our destinies are determined. On Rosh Hashana it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed, who will live and who will die, and what will become of us in the year ahead.
To be honest, this is not a statement that many of us believe literally. We may not think that our destiny is pre-determined. But the message still is significant. We realize that there are times in our lives that do determine what happens to us. Even the liturgy we read states that our actions can help alter the outcome of what is to be.
Whether or not we are participating in the Jewish holy days, let us all. as human beings, realize the awesome nature of our ability to affect our own lives and the lives of those around us. This can happen in many ways, and is different for each of us. Yet one privilege we all share is exercising our freedom to vote.
Rabbi Joel Mosbacher of Temple Shaarey Tefila in New York City wrote the following during a previous election year: “In our traditional morning blessings which we call Nisim B’Chol Yom, ‘Daily Miracles,’ we offer gratitude for being free. As American Jews, we do not take for granted the tremendous gift that we have in being free and enjoying the freedoms that every American has. This is a freedom that Jews have not always been afforded. What a gift we have to be Jews living in America today, with the right to express our opinions and raise our voices through voting.”
With the gift of freedom comes responsibility. This message applies to all Americans and indeed to all free people. In this spirit, I want to encourage our exercising one of our fundamental rights and privileges. Here are some easy steps to follow:
Register to vote: Check to see if you are registered to vote and if you are not, register online today.
Mark your calendars to vote: on Tuesday, November 8.
Make a plan to vote: Finding your polling place by visiting nyc.pollsitelocator.com or vote.org.
We give thanks for our freedom, and for being gifted with the privilege of voting. May we all make good use of this precious gift, this year and in years to come.
Best wishes to the Jewish community, and to entire community, for a shana tova u m’tuka, a good and sweet year; one of joy, health and freedom.
Rabbi Paul Sidlofsky is a rabbi at Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook.