It’s Election Day in Israel, and I’m voting.
My kids will go into the little booth with me — smaller than a Sukkah, but just as transient and just as mighty.
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 three 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, God bless you!”
I am voting for the sheikh who lives on the Mount of Olives, who welcomes travelers from all faiths, so long as they believe that there is still hope.
I am voting for the people of East Jerusalem who are treated separate and unequal, for the ones who’ve applied for citizenship years ago and are waiting so they, too, can vote.
I am voting for the men who kiss each other under a rainbow flag in broad daylight while people walk by and don’t even notice, the same two men who can’t adopt in Israel.
I am voting for the Agunah whose husband refuses to grant her a Jewish divorce, and she’s tethered, stuck, until something gives.
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 to escape anti-semitism, 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, exquisitely.
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 Mohammed Abu Khdeir, too and the Dawabsha Family, and Ari Fuld, who was stabbed in the back, and fought bravely to save lives with his very last breath..
I am voting for the mother in Beersheba who saved her children in the nick of time before a rocket hit her house.
I am voting for the man who works near Damascus Gate whose grandfather saved 24 Jews during the Hebron massacre in 1929.
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 who refuse to serve in the Occupied territories, too.
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 — all elections do — be we must show the world who we are, and even more importantly: ourselves.