October 29, 2020
At this time of unbridled political debate and heated rhetoric on the eve of the election, the Rabbinical Council of America calls on its members and their congregations to recognize that our Jewish values must inform not only our political views, but also the manner in which we advocate for them.
These views address issues of great importance for our world. However, we are greatly pained at the impact that partisan divisions have had on our communities, and in particular on our synagogues. Our synagogues, places of community and gathering, have become toxic for some. Those whose views are not shared by the majority may feel attacked, unwelcome, or marginalized. When this happens, the damage to the fabric of the community and the sanctity of the Beit Knesset is deeply regrettable.
We call on all our members and their congregations to use this election season as an opportunity to teach the lessons that the Torah has to offer. We urge our members to find ways to refrain from harsh expressions of positions and coarseness of speech and to allow everyone to feel part of our community, even when they disagree.
We recall the great rabbis Hillel and Shammai, whose opposing views coexisted because they acted for the sake of the greater good and respected each other despite their strong disagreements over matters of Heaven and Earth. Their approach teaches us the ideal of how we should treat those in our community with whom we disagree – to argue convincingly, respect strongly, and maintain our positions for the sake of the greater good.
It is true that politics by nature is often partisan and disagreements are natural, yet, as George Washington noted in his farewell address, the “worst enemy” of government is loyalty to party over nation.
We hope that just as our most important prayers are recited communally, that the positions we express, whether at home, in the synagogue, on the street, or online, maintain that sense of community.
We urge every member and congregant to exercise their right to vote in this election. And as we choose the next leader of this great nation, we reaffirm that no matter the outcome of this election, we will pray for his safety and welfare, as well as for the security, wellbeing, and rights of all people. This has been our tradition for generations, as our sages have instructed us, and this will be our practice until the coming of the Messiah, may he arrive speedily in our day.
May the Almighty continue to bless our great country with prosperity and peace and may all our people continue to be part of the great political process of this great nation.
Please share our post on Facebook