October 08, 2008

Yom Kippur 5769: "Tamar, Why do Jewish people vote Democratic?"

Sharing a meal with hungry people and
engaging with them in loving ways at
Open Door Community, Atlanta, Georgia
Yesterday, coincidentally(?) two days before Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, my neighbor Judy and I had a lively two-hour rambling chat on all manner of subjects, save one. Years ago, we had decided to steer clear of politics. Yet in 28 days, we would be voting in the national election for US President and on issues and representatives, hot topics on our minds.

And so Judy confessed, "I cannot resist asking you one question." "Fire away," I encouraged.

"I've long wondered," Judy probed, Why do Jewish people vote Democratic, especially after George W. Bush and the Republican party have been such great friends of Israel?" "Great question, and a fair one," I replied.

Core messages 

Neither presidents nor kings, pundits, bosses, rabbis, nor specific groups decide who earns my vote. For many Jews and others, the Hebrew Bible, especially the books of the prophets inform our core values and visions of a just and decent society, our individual and communal responsibilities to bringing it about, and requirements for leadership. The Democratic party principles, platforms, and policies more than those of the Republican party align with these core messages. On Yom Kippur, we read from the book of the prophet Isaiah verses that encapsulate these messages.

Isaiah 57:14 - 58:14

Later, searching to share with Judy Isaiah's teaching, I stumbled on this creative translation/interpretation by Rabbi Shefa Gold.

... those greedy corporate warmongers!
They are like the troubled sea,
Whose waters stir up filth that pollutes the land,
For them there is no safety, there will be no peace.
... Oh sure, I hear their prayers every day,
They say they want to learn my ways. Hah!
As if you were a people doing righteousness,
Who has not abandoned decency and compassion!
... They say, "Don't you see we're fasting?
Don't you see how holy we have become?"
But on your fast day you wear clothes
that were made by Chinese prisoners,
And shoes that were cried over
by terrified children in loathsome sweatshops,
And the books you hold in your hands,
are filthy with the tears of dying forests...
And your investments fatten the rich,
who are destroying this land.
You think this is the kind of fast I want?
A day that will feed your self-righteousness?
You call this a fast?
... Well, I'll tell you what kind of fast I would desire from you...
Unlock the chains of your greed and habit,
Free you from slavery of being blind consumers,
Let the oppressed worker go free
by raising the minimum wage.
It's a disgrace I tell you!
The fast I want is one that will inspire you
to share your food with the hungry,
To redistribute the wealth of this land fairly,
To build affordable housing for the homeless,
And to welcome back the people you have thrown out of your hearts,
Even the ones in your own family.
... If you banish corruption, hatred and apathy
from the innermost places of your heart,
If you stop blaming everyone else,
And instead extend your hand to the hungry,
And lift up the ones who have been beaten down
by this unjust system,
Then your light will shine forth, even in the darkness.
... From your inspiration people will reestablish
the values that have been desecrated,
And restore the foundations of decency
that have been laid by your ancestors,
And you shall be called 'Repairer of Brokenness,'
'Restorer of the Way'...

May we merit a sweet year, join in repairing our broken world, and elect a just and wise President on November 4.

My related post
5768 (2007) Yom Kippur thoughts: Our choices do matter


Anonymous said...

Liberals/Leftists are evil.

Therefore supporting liberals is evil.

If Israel falls because of your support of evil then you have only yourself to blame.

Tamar Orvell said...

You neither read my post nor the prophet Isaiah''s words. No self-respecting conservative right-wing voter would decry as evil feeding hungry people or affording them shelter. And because you focus on the evil tongue, I refer you to The Ethics of Speech website. Here, you will find sources of Jewish commandments and teachings on ethical speaking and how to help yourself curb that evil tongue. As a bully, you hide behind an "anonymous" identity and respond to serious issues by name calling. Your "comments" (on a previous post, too) do not contribute to a useful conversation, and are not welcome here.

Anonymous said...

How very sad for you and your Rabbi who misinterrupted God's holy word. God looks at the heart of the believer, this is what this "original passage" is referring to. God is not looking for empty sacrifices just for the show of others. The republican party protects life of the unborn child, protects marriage, and protects Israel. I'm not sure Israel will be safe with Obama as president.

As a nation we are an evil people, with men trying to marry men, women marrying women. This is an abomination before God and judgment will eventually come.

Be careful when you misuse God's sacred Word for His Word speaks truth and should be divided properly,