President's Column October 2019

Shalom. As I’m writing this, the outcome of the Israeli election remains too close to call, and there is much uncertainty which party or parties will govern as a majority and who will be named Prime Minister to lead the government. We are all drawn to follow the events of another country halfway around the world (well, not quite that far.) I can’t think of any other foreign election that holds my attention (and that of many of my fellow American Jews) as much as an Israeli election—although the craziness of Brexit has lifted U.K. politics to the level of a gripping soap opera. It is remarkable how we can feel that an election in the tiny and still relatively new country of Israel can have such an impact on our lives.

It can be exhausting to closely follow the U.S. presidential race with the crowded Democratic primary field and then add the Israeli election on top of that. Yet, the fact that there are choices, and that outcomes are actually in doubt, highlights the beauty of democracy. Change can be made by the people if they want it, or they can reject if they like the status quo (and not just because some dictator imposes it). We should be thankful for our political institutions and express our appreciation by staying informed and exercising our vote. I am glad that Israel, somewhat unique in that part of the world, also continues to value the ability to vote. Sure there are challenges, in both Israel and in the U.S. (after all, we wouldn’t have needed the Voting Rights Act if things always went smoothly in this country). So long as fundamental values are respected and continue to be upheld, I am hopeful that the people in both the United State and Israel will find the right paths for their countries to shine brightly in the years to come.

Jeff Babbin