HUC-JIR News Digest Masthead

Dear Friends,

In Lech Lecha this Shabbat, we read that God tells Abram to “go forth from your homeland to the land that I will show you… to a land you do not know.” This journey, which will lead to the Jewish people’s everlasting Covenant, is fraught with peril overcome by faith.

We too are in the midst of our own unanticipated journey during these highly uncertain, anxious times, digging deep into the well of optimism for hope for better days.

A milestone on our journey is coming up in the next few days. The presidential election on Tuesday, November 3, represents a critical moment when we, as American citizens, have the freedom and responsibility to exercise our constitutional rights of self-determination.

As a nation, we have suffered gravely from systematic inequities and policies that have challenged these rights, such as exclusion on the basis of gender and race, poll taxes, literacy tests, untranslated voting materials for a burgeoning non-English speaking population, and lack of accessibility in polling places for people with disabilities.

This coming week’s election will present untold challenges, including voter suppression and an unprecedented number of voters who will be impeded from voting at the polls in person due to health and social distancing concerns but hopefully will have registered to exercise their precious franchise by voting by mail.

For those of us who have not yet exercised our precious franchise by mail-in-voting, we are called upon to fulfill our obligation to vote and encourage others to do so too. Our hard-won rights must not be taken for granted. They empower us to live and thrive in a country blessed with democracy and the freedom to advocate for justice, righteousness, and goodness for all.

To further our shared goals:

  • Eight weeks ago, HUC announced it would close for business on Election Day to encourage civic participation and support of the voting process.
  • Joining with my colleagues at JTS and other institutions, I have signed onto the petition calling on all American Jewish organizations to commit to closing for business on Election Day to make voting accessible to all.
  • Rabbi Andrea Weiss, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost, Rabbi David Adelson, Dean of our New York Campus, and I, among others, have joined a bipartisan, multi-denominational group of faith and community leaders in making a joint statement about free and fair elections, “Faith Leaders United.”

Let each one of us do our part in ensuring that all of our voices are heard and counted. The future of our nation depends on the will of its people, expressed in free elections, to determine the next stage of our American journey.

Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D.


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