Voting and Tikkun Olam

By Maddy Lerner, Board Member

 October 24, 2023

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been distracted, distraught, and horrified. Focusing on other subjects and not the Israel-Hamas War has seemed all but impossible to me. And truthfully, it still plagues me. Like so many of you, I have family in Israel and their safety has consumed my every thought. I wake up every morning, reaching for my phone to see what I might have missed overnight. I have sought comfort from my family, friends, and fellow activists. In these conversations with my support system, the words “Tikkun Olam” (repairing the world) kept floating around in my head.

To the Jewish people, Tikkun Olam means that we have the power to repair the world – and we have a duty to do so. This is one of many reasons why I am proud to be Jewish. This duty and commitment to peace and needed change is an integral part of our observance. So as I shift to another issue, please know that during this time, it is important to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Take the time to process and heal. Take the time to ask for space or support. I stand with you in solidarity.

The more I thought about Tikkun Olam and the important of peace and change, the more I thought about another timely topic – voting.

Growing up, my family was very politically engaged. Likely as an infant, you would find me seated amongst my family as they were engaged in a conversation on the state of the country – or the world. As a child, I started to understand the political terms my family used. As a young teen, I even felt comfortable contributing to the conversation. All this to say, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone that I started volunteering on political campaigns when I was in high school. Today, I can say that I’ve been in the political field for over a decade.

When you go doorknocking, you almost never know who is going to be on the other side of that door. It could be someone who is friendly and kind, someone who supports your cause. It could be someone who slams the door in your face. But it might be someone who is adamantly against voting in general. One tool you pick up in canvassing is to know when you can’t change someone’s mind. But I often think about those who don’t see the importance of voting. And then I think about education surrounding voting.

So apologies because I’m now going to get on my soapbox.

It is important to vote in every election – even when it’s not a presidential election year. Any given year, you could be voting for: President, Senator, Representative, Governor, State Senator, State Representative, Mayor, School Board, etc. All of these posts have an impact on your daily life – whether you see it publicly or it’s more behind the scenes. All of these people are ultimately elected to represent YOU. So why not have a say in it?

A few times I’ve been asked: “Why are you voting? It’s only city council on the ballot right?” As a woman, I wouldn’t have been allowed to vote just over a century ago. I think about the number of women in America who couldn’t vote before 1920. I think about those who fought for women’s suffrage. This is a privilege and a duty that I have that so many before me did not. Aside from the magnetic pull I feel towards a polling station on election day, this and so many others are the reasons I find to vote.

So this year, on Election Day in Minnesota – Tuesday, November 7 – I encourage you to consider voting. I encourage you to have your voice heard. I encourage you to speak up for those who cannot.

In the spirit of Tikkun Olam, I will be voting on November 7 and I hope you will do the same.