Yoni Zierler

Election Slips

I have never held a piece of paper that felt so heavy. A small rectangle, 7X10 centimeters in size. Roughly the size of the notes folded up and placed in between the nooks and crannies of the Western Wall, but with fewer words. Just some letters printed big and bold in the center of the slip, holding what I hoped was the largest amount of good that could be offered to the State of Israel.

No written requests, just a prayer on my lips that I had made the right choice, as I dropped the blue envelope into the blue ballot box.

Ever since Netanyahu made his move for new elections, and cries for a revolution began filling the virtual streets of Facebook, I have been trying to figure out which party to vote for.

My day to day is spent guiding people through the streets of Jerusalem, and serving as a mouthpiece for some of the more famous stones in the world. I try to bring history to life for people on the Temple Mount, at the Western Wall Tunnels, in the various quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Sometimes I wonder if I have succeeded in my mission, and if the group before me really understands where they are standing. No matter what, I always end up seeing something in the well-worn pavement; the footprints of those who walked before me, the faces of characters from famous stories, and more recently, hard lessons of Jewish history.

And that has made voting so difficult.

The Second Temple burned down because the Jewish people engaged in acts of baseless hate! So forget about the party that can’t seem to resist throwing hateful words at the LGBTQ society.

What about the Maccabean Revolt that predates the Second Temple’s Destruction? The story of Hanukkah and the successive Hasmonean Dynasty unfolded out of a readiness to fight in order to maintain the sacred religious practices and Jewish independence that went hand in hand back then. Can we really afford to separate synagogue from State?

Were Kings David and Solomon right-wingers with their desire for a strong, united, kingdom of Israel and their dedication to building a central house of worship in the newly conquered capital? Or does Solomon’s prayer of dedication in Temple, echoed by the later words of the prophet Isaiah to make this house “a house of prayer for all nations,” make him a liberal leftist?

Atop of Masada it is so easy for me to swear with tour groups that “Masada shall not fall again,” and to commit with them to being a part of the new Jewish Democracy- one that stands nearly 2000 years after the last lamp of Jewish independence was placed on an arch in Rome.

But when I package that sentiment onto a shred of paper the size of a post-it note, and hope that the elected official behind those robust letters gets the memo…

Poor allegiances, in-fighting, battles of ego, lack of faith, and an abundance of hubris. What’s that saying?

Ah yes. “History repeats itself.”

The exit polls are in, the numbers are being tallied, and the nearly four thousand year-old weight that I thought I had dropped off at the polling booth is still sitting atop my shoulders.

I don’t know what the coalition will look like. I don’t know if this is the end of King Bibi or the beginning of a renaissance. I certainly don’t know what fate awaits the State of Israel as a result of all of those small scraps of paper.

All I know is the blessing that I offered two hours ago, at the end of a tour in the Western Wall Tunnels:

May we merit not only to walk through the tunnels of history, but to be a part of history. And may all of us and all of our children write a new chapter in the history books together – one of hope, peace, and happiness.

About the Author
Yoni Zierler is the chief tour guide and Director of “Discover," the tourism department of StandWithUs – an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Yoni immigrated to Israel for his last year of high-school, and subsequently served (with excellence) in the IDF. A lover of history, books, and music, Yoni is happily married to Yochi and the proud father of Golan Noam and Klil Eden.