Build the Future You Want in the New Year

with WISCONSIN JEWISH CONFERENCE

THE HIGH HOLY DAYS are a period of reflection for many of us. We think about what we’ve done during the past year—the good and the bad—and the impact we’ve had on other people. We ask for forgiveness and may promise to change. Most years, we spend the High Holy Days focused on introspection. But this year—as our country simultaneously navigates a pandemic, presidential election, and reckoning with racial injustice—many of us are also thinking about issues in our community and how to build the future we want.

 

We are living through an unprecedented moment in history. Fierce debates are raging across our city, state, and country about how to solve the myriad issues before us. Some people have been inspired to engage in politics for the first time while others are asking, “what’s the point?”

 

The predecessor to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, NJCRAC, wrote that “It is legitimate, indeed desirable for religious groups and clergy to advocate policies that would shape society in ways that those faith communities view as fulfilling their ideal of the “good society’. They have this right under the constitution not only to advocate their views on public policy issues but also to question candidates on their positions on those issues, to make their views known to their constituents and to the public at large...”

 

The Wisconsin Jewish Conference is currently the only statewide group that advocates on behalf of Wisconsin’s Jewish community before our state government. In addition to advocating, we also act as a resource to lawmakers and help to educate them on issues that are important to the Jewish community. It is a role we take seriously as there are only three Jewish members of the Legislature.

 

As Jews, we realize that there is something beyond our personal lives that demands our response. The concept of Tikun Olam, which refers to responsibility, as individuals and as a people, to make the world a better place in which all of us may live.

 

Now, more than ever, it is important that the voice of Wisconsin’s Jewish community is represented in the political arena. If you have felt strongly about a local, state, or national issue over the past few months, I challenge you to take a step during High Holy Days to advocate for the future you want by:

 

  1. Know what’s on your ballot. Many local races do not get media attention and are drowned out by national races. Take a look at what’s on your ballot at myvote.wi.gov and research the candidates for each race.
     
  2. Reach out to the politicians who are running to represent you in the State Assembly, State Senate, Congress, or even President to ask where they stand on issues that matter to you. Many politicians have been forced to campaign in new and creative ways due to COVID-19. Local candidates have been offering to set up calls with voters who’ve emailed them with questions about their positions. This is a great way to build a dialogue!
     
  3. Register to vote, request your absentee ballot, and vote! The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Thursday, October 29. However, due to COVID-19, demand for absentee ballots has surged, and you should request an absentee ballot as soon as possible at myvote.wi.gov.
     
  4. Get involved. Work at the polls, help with “get out the vote” efforts, volunteer on a campaign, or just encourage others to vote.
     

Article by Michael Blumenfeld. Wisconsin Jewish Conference is a beneficiary organization of the Jewish Federation of Madison, advocating on behalf of Wisconsin’s Jewish community before our state government.

 


 

Vote For Me!

Jewish Federation of Madison is proud to be a partner in this special video series giving young people a voice in the upcoming election and urging adults to Vote For Me. The non-partisan project is led by Wisconsin's three Urban League affiliates. New episodes will be released regularly up until the elections, including one with a local Madison Jewish teen sharing their Vote For Me story.

  • Meet Julius

    13-year-old Julius dreams of a bright future but fears becoming a target of racism. See why he’s urging adults to #voteforme.

  • Meet Theo

    Theo celebrates being a non-binary, Jewish teen, but they fear discrimination in the future might hurt their rights. See why they feel voting is the key to protecting all of our differences.


 

Need A Witness for Your Absentee Ballot?
Community members, Robin Sweet and John Grande are volunteering to ensure everyone has the opportunity to get their vote out. If you live alone and, due to current COVID-19 precautions, do not have another adult who can serve as your witness for voting, Robin and John can help. They are available by scheduled appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 am - 7:00 pm, through the election. They intend to stand outside the voter's home at a distance beyond 6 feet, wear masks and gloves, extend a tool to retrieve the ballot envelope, sign it as a witness, spray it down with disinfectant, and safely re-pass it to the voter. To schedule an appointment, contact Robin at (608) 469-7469 or roisweet@aol.com.