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Points of View
Just a Mirror Named Joe
My Point of View--September 8, 2000
© Rabbi Jack Moline

Let me state at the outset: vote your conscience, not your religious identity.

Having said that, let me now turn to Senator Joseph Lieberman’s candidacy and how you should be supporting it. By now, the novelty of his traditional observance has been supplanted in the media by the real stuff of the election campaign. However, the fact of Sen. Lieberman’s orthodoxy remains and will have repercussions for us all.

Joe Lieberman is a mirror in which every American Jew must look at his or her reflection.

No arguments, please, about “different ways to be Jewish.” You belong to a Conservative synagogue, and therefore you subscribe, at least in theory, to the same pattern of observance as the good Senator. Never mind the details, most of which are understood only from inside Jewish life. When you are asked -- as you will be -- about the upcoming holidays (all of ‘em) and Shabbat, you will undermine the very source of our pride in the Lieberman candidacy if you dismiss your own observance as unimportant. For the first time, you will not need to explain to non-Jewish co-workers or friends why you are unavailable on a Friday night, a Saturday afternoon or Simchat Torah. Instead, you will have to explain (in terms likely to be unconvincing to yourself) why Lieberman “has to” observe and you don’t.

If you are a Democrat, you may have some political motivation to increase your level of observance. If you are undecided or a Republican, you have even more motivation – it is not the Democratic Party which has a monopoly on Jewish integrity.

And good news – there are role models within our congregation to whom you can point as well. We have many good people, but we also have good people who are observant Jews, too. They work in government and the private sector, in the public schools and the military, in business and non-profits. They (and I) are pleased to see reflected in this candidate a life-style which brings them meaning and satisfaction.

As I said at the beginning – vote your conscience, not your religious identity. But do not squander this opportunity to reflect in your life what general society now celebrates.

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