Arnold D. Samlan
Jewish Educational Leader, South Florida

My US Election Endorsements!

I know what you’re thinking: That I am going to tell you who I am backing in the 2020 presidential elections in the United States. I’m actually going to do better than than that! I’m going to tell you who I am voting for in the August primaries here in Florida, in the 2020 presidential elections and in every single election I will ever be voting in! Not only that, but it will be reflected through very Jewish lenses.

I am voting for candidates who:

  • Demonstrate responsible leadership and management – Real leaders take responsibility and take charge. In the book of Shemot (Exodus), Moshe, the prince, witnesses a taskmaster beating and Israelite. He takes charge of the situation, responds, and accepts the consequences of his action (self-imposed exile). It is during that exile that it revealed to him that he has earned the right to the leadership of the Israelites.
  • Empathy – Both Moshe and David in the bible are chosen for their roles as they are leading sheep. The Jewish lens is teaching us that if you can show concern for lowly animals, you will most certainly empathize and be able to lead human communities
  • Ability to work with others, across all lines of authority and approaches. Two Jewish teachings: In the creation story, God actually consults with his “cabinet” before creating the first human (“Let US create…). And in the Talmud, the quote “These teachings and these teachings are both words of the Living God” remind us to value and respect differences of opinions. Without differing opinions, the Talmud doesn’t exist. Without Talmud, Judaism as we know it doesn’t exist.
  • Love of humanity – In my experience I have seen educators who “don’t like children” and politicians who don’t love and respect those they lead. It doesn’t work. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” applies to everyone. but it’s especially important to live that mitzvah in leadership.
  • Honesty and Integrity – Personal and professional integrity matter. A LOT. Because the phrase Adonai Eloheichem Emet, which ends the rectation of the Sh’ma is often translated as “The Lord your God is true” is sometimes (also correctly) translated as “The Lord your God is truth” – that is, is manifested through truth. Oh, and a name for God is Shalom, peace. The word Shalom, derives from the root Sh-L-M, meaning complete and denotes integrity. I expect my leaders to demonstrate those Godly qualities.
  • Values-driven – Those who are driven by consistent core values may be swayed in specific situations for political reasons, but will remain faithful to the values they hold dearest. Israelite leaders in the bible stray. Often. But the prophets move leaders like David and other kings back to their core values. And the good kings in the bible recognize that they’ve gone astray and find their way back.
  • Humility – Good leaders never believe that they have all the answers. Looking at Moshe again, he readily accepts the constructive criticism of his father-in-law, Jethro, and fashions an entire system of justice around the advice he is given. The ultimate praise of Moshe appears later in the Torah, which describes him as the most humble of all people
  • Stands on issues that matter – That’s right. This is the last on my list for a reason. Yes, I want to know that my political leaders care about healthcare for all. Yes, I want to know that my leaders will confront racism and bigotry wherever they raise their ugly heads. Yes, I want leaders that will support Israel (even if they disagree with specific policies of Israel). But politicians are gonna politic. And that means that there will be a lot of bartering because that’s how the game is played. So I will go with the leadership and character of candidates I will vote for, and expect that, when those considerations align, the specific policy platforms will fall into place.

And there you have it, my endorsements for this year and forever.

WayFM » Registering to Vote is Easier Than you Think!
About the Author
Rabbi Arnie Samlan, Chief Jewish Education Officer of the Jewish Federation Broward County, Florida, Is a rabbi and Jewish educator whose work has impacted Jewish learners, community leaders and professionals across North America. All blog posts are his personal opinions and are not meant to reflect viewpoints of the Jewish Federation.
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