Tomorrow is election day in Israel, and I’m voting.
I’ll go early. My kids and I will walk to the kibbutz dining hall. They’ll go into the little booth with me — smaller than a Sukkah, but just as transient and just as mighty.
I will ask my daughter if I can wear the Star of David my friend Munir in the Old City gave her.
I know who I’m voting for. And I’ll tell you:
I am voting for my friends who work two jobs to pay rent for a cardboard apartment with 3 other roommates.
I am voting for the shopkeeper who can’t afford to buy his own cottage cheese.
I am voting for the bus driver who smells like Noblesse Lights, who once let me ride for free because I didn’t have enough, and “Mami, if you can’t even find three extra shekels in your purse, you need all the money you have.”
I am voting for the sheikh who lives on the Mount of Olives, who welcomes travelers from all faiths, so long as they believe in hope.
I am voting for the men who kiss each other under a rainbow flag in broad day light while people walk by and don’t even notice.
I am voting for the people who keep the stillness of Shabbat, for the women who light candles, and the men who make Kiddush over the wine, for the people who daven, and fast on each Fast Day.
I am voting for the Jews who celebrate the day of rest by driving places for hikes, or to friends homes far away, for the Jews who ride their bikes on Yom Kippur down carless highways.
I am voting for the doctor in TEREM who helped save my son, and faces Mecca to pray, and the Jewish doctor who moved here from France, and who drives once a month to the villages in the West Bank to treat Palestinians.
I am voting for the family in Ramle who invited us for Christmas eve, and the faithful who sing in the cistern of St. Helena.
I am voting for everyone who has ever thought twice about getting on a bus, or felt their pulse race when they see a bag left unattended.
I am voting for the families of the men who were mowed down in Har Nof Synagogue, and the family who watched their baby girl sail high into the air before thundering to the ground.
I am voting for Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali. I am voting for Muhammed Abu Khdeir, too.
I am voting for the soldiers, and the men and women who give them rides on a hot day, or give up their seats on the bus so these boys and girls in olive green can close their eyes, even if only for five minutes.
I am voting for the people in my little village — for the workers who come home dusty from the clementine orchards, for my neighbor and her family who watch my kids, and let me watch theirs. I am voting for the mothers and fathers in the park who let their kids try their limits, fail, and try again.
I am voting so if my person wins, I can celebrate, and if the other person wins, I can complain. 🙂
I am voting for my kids.
And most of all, I am voting for the country that our founders imagined — a homeland based on exquisite principles of equality, fairness, and righteousness — the very values that are steeped in our ancient culture and peoplehood, culled through our own varied histories… values that honor the fundamental dignity of others who may believe different things and pray in different languages.
This election matters — we have reached a point where we must show the world who we are. And we must hold the mirror up to our own face, and hope we may like it enough to smile back.
So, yes, I am voting.
And I’ll tell you who I’m voting for:
I am voting for Israel.