This week Two Voices asks: will Jewish values influence how you’ll vote in the General Election?
Rabbi Steven Katz says…
Judaism’s overarching value is tikkun olam, to repair what is broken in this world. A government’s first duty is to repair what is broken in its own country. Of the 613 mitzvot, only one is cited in both the positive and the negative, mandating us to support the poor, and then later, not to desist from supporting them.
Which party will best offer homes for the homeless, jobs for the jobless and free and ready access to the NHS?
Of the 613 mitzvot, the one most repeated through the Torah is care for the stranger, the immigrant. Which party will best respond to the needs of the immigrant in a way that does not threaten this country’s economic infrastructure?
Which party will best protect the elderly through state pensions and benefits?
I am an ‘ohev Zion’, a lover of Israel. Which party will best support the continuing existence of a secure, sovereign, independent Jewish State of Israel, offering diplomatic support, economic trade and cultural exchange?
Tikkun olam urges us to look beyond our own country’s horizons. At the dawn of history, humanity was tasked with protecting the earth’s resources so future generation’s wellbeing will be assured. Which party will best address the dangers of global climate change and economic greed?
The vote in the UK is both a privilege and a responsibility. Let us appreciate it, and use it.
Steven Katz is rabbi at Hendon Reform Synagogue
Michael Lewis says…
Jewish values – whether religious, cultural or national – can be divided into two categories: academic and social. The great weight Judaism places on learning shows our tradition is inherently intellectual. Just as a synagogue can be called both a beit limmud and a beit knesset, Judaism can be defined just as much social as it is academic.
One need only look to our fantastic youth movement culture for an example of this, but it is also fundamental in our religious practices – we need a minyan to say key prayers. What does this have to do with politics? It shows we are obliged to vote. Engagement in community is a fundamental underlying value we can arrive at both academically and socially through Judaism. How can we, as Jews, say we are engaged with the wider political community if we remove ourselves from the process? But more important than our Jewish values telling us we should vote is how they tell us to vote.
Jews have written on Jewish socialism and conservatism, Jewish ecology and nationalism – so I don’t accept there is a particular party we should vote for. But we should be ‘values voters’. When a Jew votes, they should identify the values they hold dear, be it collectivism, individualism, stewardship, nationalism, and use those values to decide who to vote for. Our Jewish values compel us to vote, but they compel us to be values voters.
Michael Lewis is a Nottingham University student