Saturday, May 23, 2009

Concerning Vaad HaKahal Elections

Tomorrow is election day in Crown Heights for the Vaad HaKahal. We have one Rabbi urging us to vote and another strictly forbidding it. There is a slate of candidates and a bloc of community residents who say that they will not recognise the elections. There has been a flurry of actions in civil courts to prohibit and to allow the elections. As of today, Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the vote is on.

I will not say whether I am voting or not, although I have made up my mind. But I am going to do the same thing that I did in the presidential election in 2008. During that election, I was passionately opposed to Barack Obama becoming President. Despite this, I went out of my way to maintain friendship and cordiality with friends who were in favour of Obama.

The election tomorrow will be during sefira. A major theme of sefira is that of doing away with baseless hatred. Aside from prohibitions on haircuts and live entertainment, there is a general focus on maintaining amity and mutual respect.

I will be handling this election the same way I handle every other dispute in our community, from Smira vs. Shomrim to Yechi vs. not to say yechi. I will make up my mind. I will voice my opinion at the appropriate time. And I will remind myself that others who are passionately opposed to my opinions are decent human beings with the good of our community, nation and world at the top of their concerns.

There is nothing wrong with having strong convictions. In my own family, my parents were appalled at my repeated votes for conservative Republicans. Both they and I showed the depth of our commitment to each other by not letting political disagreements sour our relationship. My parent's views were shaped by life in Nazi Germany and during the Great Depression. By listening respectfully to their opinions, I learned a great deal about the events that shaped them.

The Jewish community of Crown Heights comes from around the world. Anyone who cares to can listen to history come alive if they know which questions to ask. Whatever your opinions about the Crown Heights elections, whoever you are voting for, whether or not you are voting, it is imperative that we respect each other and recognise each others good intentions. What is in our hearts will not show in the vote tallies or turnout percentages. But it will carry weight on the heavenly scales.

May G-d open our eyes and lead us out of galus. Shavua Tov. A good week to all.

No comments: