October 30, 2020 / 12 Cheshvan 5781
Dear Friends,

On Rosh Hashanah I spoke about how we need to find our courage, ometz lev, to face this moment in history. As we approach Election Day, we will need to summon up this heart-strength. 

This email is a way to share a few messages and opportunities for us as a community.

The election, just days away now, has generated tremendous anxiety for me and I know for many others I have spoken with. My concern for democracy and our cherished system of free and fair elections has spurred me to action over the past many days. I have attended a dozen learning sessions and trainings on nonpartisan support for our democracy. On Election Day, I will be part of a multifaith team of clergy trained to de-escalate any potential challenges. I am proud that Mount Zion will be a polling site, including dozens of volunteers from the congregation led by Larry Solomon. 

The faith communities, across all faiths as well as the Jewish community, have held numerous conversations to consider our role in leading our communities through these contentious times.

I participated in creating and support this statement from the Minnesota Rabbinical Association, which reads in part:

The Minnesota Rabbinical Association stands as one, even as we hold different political views, to say that we are here for our community to provide:

Comfort: In a time of anxiety, we are here to provide counsel and to create space for prayer, song, and hope.

Connection: In a time of polarization, we want all people to see the humanity in each other across ideological and political lines, to be more curious and less judgmental.

Calm, Clarity, and Courage: In a time of threats to the democratic process, civic engagement is a mitzvah. We are committed to a free and fair election in which everyone can vote safely and without intimidation. We ask every citizen of voting age to participate in the democratic process and every politician to wait to declare victory until all votes are counted. We oppose making Israel a wedge issue and denounce the spread of information that casts doubts on the election.
Over the coming days, here are some ways for you to engage and be supported.

  • First and foremost, vote. Know that Minnesota’s electoral system is safe, and your vote will be counted. (Here’s a message from Minnesota’s past and present governors about their confidence in our election system.) It may take longer to know the results of the election this year because of COVID and absentee voting, but we can be patient. Find Your Polling Location. Already Voted? Track Your Ballot. If your ballot was not accepted, you should vote in person. The system will assure only one vote is counted. Need a ride? Have other questions or need help voting, reply to this email and I can forward to volunteers ready to help.
LATE-BREAKING NEWS - It is TOO LATE to mail ballots: If you still have a ballot to submit, drop it off by 3 pm on Nov. 3. You can drop it off at these locations.
  • Want to help on Election Day? There is a fascinating action by the Jewish Coalition for Voting Rights. If you are able, it involves being at poll sites, thanking voters, and asking them to contact three others to vote. This has proven to help increase turnout by 10%. Contact Lisa Hilbink, from our Tzedek Committee, if you are interested in doing this.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 4, 6:30 pm – Post-Election Prayer for our Country and Facilitated Conversation. Zoom link We do not know what we will know on Wednesday. We do know that we will be experiencing many feelings and that there will be reactions across our country. In a nonpartisan, fully community-building way, we will have facilitators provide a way for all of us to share what is in our hearts. This program will include our Chai School students.
  • Thursday, Nov. 5, 4:00 pmAfternoon Tea with MZ: Post-Election Conversation. Zoom link. I will facilitate this conversation. 
  • Thursday, Nov. 5, 7:00 pm – for a break but relevant to the moment: Just Desserts: A Party-Style Text Study led by Rabbi Amy Ariel More info and registration – Cosponsored with Beth Jacob Congregation.
  • Friday, Nov. 6, 6:00 pm – Shabbat Services Zoom link I will speak about democracy in America.
  • Saturday, Nov. 7, 6:00–7:00 pm - Post-Election Havdalah Gathering, “Extending the Light of Shabbat” Register. The entire Jewish community from across Minnesota and across the political spectrum will gather to be comforted in a time of anxiety, connected in a time of polarization, and inspired by song, prayer and Torah to know calm, clarity and courage in this challenging election season. Sponsored by the Minnesota Rabbinical Association, Minnesota Cantors Association, and the Jewish Chaplains of the Twin Cities. 
  • Sunday, Nov. 8, 12:30 pmTzedek Committee meeting An opportunity to meet with members of our Tzedek (justice) Committee to continue the conversation. Open to all. Contact co-chairs Diana Dean or Vic Rosenthal for the zoom link.

There are many opportunities here to gather, join in community, and take action together. I hope that knowing that we are prepared, that there are people working to ensure our democracy, and that there will be spaces for us to gather to reflect and be uplifted, brings a measure of encouragement. 

May our country that has provided our people a haven in a way we have never experienced in our long history, find the light to be a beacon of liberty and peace through the weeks ahead.

Shabbat shalom,
Adam Stock Spilker, Rabbi