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Don’t Just Take Your Kids to the Voting Booth

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Two years ago, on the eve of the 2016 election, I wrote a piece about why I am taking my kids to the polls and how it reflects my Jewish values. All those things still hold true. It still shows them what I stand for and how I think it connects to how we live out our lives in the world. It is still a Jewish obligation to vote and participate in the life of the community and I am still taking them with me to the polls.

But over the last two years, I have come to the conclusion that just taking them to vote is not enough. Yes, they love going and filling in the bubbles and getting the stickers. Sometimes they get invested in issues or candidates. My older son really enjoyed using his artistic talents to write postcards to remind people to vote. But before and after Election Day, they need to be reminded of the values that lead us to go into that voting booth.

If we didn’t already know, after Pittsburgh our whole community was reminded of how challenging, scary, and uncertain the world can be. But it also reminded us that the world is full of love, kindness, support and hope. And those are learned values, starting at home and radiating out into the world around us. And so I can’t help connecting what we saw in the aftermath of Pittsburgh to what will happen on Election Day. Will we vote for love over hate? Light over darkness?

Just as important: Will we work for those things to be true, both before and after Tuesday? In addition to the voting booth, will we take our kids to feed the hungry, to help shelter the homeless, to visit the sick — all values rooted deeply in our Jewish tradition? Those are the things that should be a part of our everyday lives, that help guide us on how to vote and who to support. Our kids get engaged in the election process when it is part of their everyday experiences, and not just something they do one day a year.

And this is not about right or left or center or unaffiliated. This is about helping our kids see how the values that we hold, and we see reflected in the way we practice our Jewish life, are lived out in the world. We spend our whole parenting lives helping our kids navigate and learn about the world around us. We fill them with our hopes and dreams that they will be good people and make good choices. We are their first teachers and I take that responsibility very seriously.

And so, when the calendar turns from November 6th to November 7th, the fight will not be over. No matter who wins and who loses, we must continue to build our muscles to change the world and to fight for a future that reflects our Jewish values and gets us closer to the world as it should be.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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