Rabbi Jon Spira-Savett teaches, in his sermon from last Yom Kippur:
… I have said many times that our political freedom, our right to vote, is a privilege that few in human history have had, and how much more is this true for the Jews. What Moshe began when he stood up to Pharaoh, took centuries and millennia to finally come true for us.
There are a number of objections to the rabbi speaking about politics from the bimah. Let me say something that is not controversial: We are, here, a group of liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, as well as no doubt other political affiliations.
These are core beliefs, and deeply held identities. If the rabbi picks one and says that’s what’s in the Torah, that is alienating and divisive, and right on the day we are supposed to be at one.
So I can promise you that I will not identify the prophets or the Torah with one party. I made a personal decision a few years ago to register as an undeclared voter. It is a way of training myself to make the Torah a measure of my political philosophy, and not the other way around.
What I really want to do is to help you ask yourself, in essence:
How can I be a more Jewish conservative?
How can I be a more Jewish liberal?
If you take those questions to heart, in the ways I’ll talk about, I am sure that it will also become easier in the synagogue to talk in the coming year about issues in politics and our political disagreements.
….the power we have, whether as voters or activists in the presidential election, is tremendous. The Talmud says that it is not just our individual destinies that are stake on Yom Kippur. “Rav stated: Concerning the nations, it is determined: Which to the sword, and which to peace? Which to hunger and which to abundance? Each individual is tasked, to remind him about life and death.”
War and peace, international affairs; hunger and homelessness, on the domestic side – this is what politics is about. Life and death, our own but more likely someone else’s. We do not have the luxury of our cynicism. We are not entitled to treat politics as entertainment….
Rabbi Jon’s blog post on this topic is here Jews and Elections: Rabbi Jon’s Website and Blog
The direct link to download his sermon is Yom Kippur Sermon morning 5776
Does Jon Spira-Savett sound familiar? You might remember him from the 2016 nationally-televised “town hall”, where voters asked questions of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. He is the rabbi of Temple Beth Abraham, Nashua, New Hampshire.