5/6 July 2024, 30 Sivan 5784

Why vote?

I have studied attitudes to civic engagement with our teenagers this past month. Jewish tradition has a great deal to say on involving ourselves with the welfare of our cities and the wider community in which we live. As Jeremiah wrote in the 8th century BCE to his anxious and exiled people: But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you [into exile,] and pray to the Eternal on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. [Jeremiah: 29:7]

This feels particularly apposite this week.

In a delightful twist of fate and time, our synagogue Annual General Meeting was booked for the day we will turn out to vote in our General Election. And the effects of living in a democratic society benefits us all.

Our community is a microcosm of our wider society. No organisation is sustained healthily without its members caring for it. In all the 12 years of my serving FPS, I have seen that demonstrated every day – a full, if miniature, democracy. On Thursday, I imagine we will feel similarly about the leadership of our local areas and the country at large.

In Mishnah Avot, we learn that Rabbi Hanina, the vice-high priest insisted: Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear it inspires, every person would swallow their neighbour alive. We need good governance  – we know what the alternative is – and we do more than pray for it. Thanks to our new BoD representative Tim Seyner-Harness, our community had access to a local hustings for the candidates for Finchley and Golders Green and those in neighbouring constituencies have had access too. It is deeply Jewish to care what happens around us – Lo Tuchal L’hitalem – Do not become indifferent, says the Book of Deuteronomy in Ki Teitzei.

I welcome this opportunity as you may also do. Do join us on Thursday evening – in between your voting and watching results for the General Election – by expressing your views on our synagogue, its plans and its governance. You are critical to that process too.

Shabbat Shalom,