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The earliest possible moment

10/28/2020 12:09:04 PM


It might seem a bit early to be thinking about Chanukah, but I want to talk about Chanukah in conjunction with something that is very current in our lives right now: The election.

Lighting Chanukah candles anytime after sunset is typically fair game. However, I learned while living in Israel that many observant Jews rush to light candles at the very first twinkle of stars in the sky. This way, they prolong the mitzvah of lighting the candles for as long as possible, thereby increasing and expanding the existence of light in this world. For eight days, there is a bustle of energy as nightfall approaches. People leave work early to light with their families at home. Chanukah melodies echo through the air. The atmosphere is festive and bright, and not just because of the flickering candles. The whole Jewish community comes together to celebrate freedom.

This week, the start of early voting in Westchester County brought about a similar sentiment. Many of us -- myself included -- endured long lines to vote, rushing to be counted at the earliest possible moment. We had time to spare, with over a week to go before Election Day. Nevertheless, when voting opened on Saturday, hundreds upon thousands of people spent over four hours in line to fulfill their civic duty. We could have waited for lighter crowds on a weekday. We could have taken their chances with an absentee ballot. Instead, we chose to raise our voices as part of a movement of people hungry for a say in the future of the United States of America. 

Admittedly, I did not cast my own vote until Tuesday. However, I still spent over 90 minutes in line from start to finish. But the wait did not feel like a burden. I felt like I was -- literally -- praying with my feet, marching along the track towards the Yorktown Community and Cultural Center with an army of hundreds. The safety protocols to avoid the spread of COVID-19 were a labor of love; the volunteers friendly and heroic. When I finished, it was as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I had participated in something that was meaningful and productive. 

By casting our votes early, our county set a precedent of increased voter turn-out that resulted in extended hours of polling that will enable even more people to raise their voices. These are unprecedented and difficult times. No matter how the election turns out, it is important for us to at least kindle the flame of making our choices known. Without this spark, our future could remain dark and lonely. 


Fri, June 2 2023 13 Sivan 5783