Jewish communities around the world have historically flourished in societies with healthy democracies that champion "government of the people, by the people, for the people."
Jewish tradition calls upon us to pursue justice and govern ourselves through fairness and the rule of law. The Torah recognizes the need for a justice without bias as fundamental to the functioning of society, as it is written: לֹא־תַעֲשׂ֥וּ עָ֙וֶל֙ בַּמִּשְׁפָּ֔ט, “you shall not render an unfair decision” (Leviticus 19:15).
Furthermore, the Talmud acknowledges the role the people must play in selecting their own leaders:
אֵין מַעֲמִידִין פַּרְנָס עַל הַצִּבּוּר אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן נִמְלָכִים בַּצִּבּוּר,“a ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted” (Berakhot 55a).
This value is codified in significant documents and constitutions such as the US Declaration of Independence which says that the government derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed.”
In light of the highly contentious atmosphere surrounding the 2020 United States election, the Rabbinical Assembly, representing Conservative and Masorti rabbis around the world, is concerned about the integrity of the democratic process, as well as the potential discord and division in American society, both during the voting process and in the period following the November 3 Election Day.
This election season comes amidst the devastating COVID-19 pandemic that has taken the lives of well over 200,000 Americans and has disrupted everyday life. In order to safely participate in the election, many more Americans than in the past are voting by mail to avoid in-person crowds at the polls. The surge in balloting by mail has stressed the system and election results likely will not be completely tabulated on Election Night, November 3. Consistent with our Resolution on Voting Rights in the United States of America, passed in 2019, the Rabbinical Assembly seeks to ensure that all citizens who lawfully cast a vote in 2020 will have their votes counted. Safe, fair, and accessible elections are core components of a strong, thriving democracy.
Therefore, the Rabbinical Assembly resolves to call on all segments of American society to preserve democratic norms and values in the elections process. In pursuit of this goal, the Rabbinical Assembly further resolves to:
- Advocate for the full registration of all eligible would-be voters;
- Advocate for the counting of every vote lawfully cast in the 2020 elections and denounce efforts to limit or reduce opportunities and means to vote;
- Denounce all violence both prior to and following the election, including any intimidation towards election officials and citizens seeking to cast their vote and/or intentional disinformation about the voting process;
- Urge candidates not to proclaim victory prematurely, media outlets not to declare the outcome of an election prematurely, and states to wait to appoint their presidential electors until their results are officially certified; and
- Demand all candidates and their supporters respect the outcome of election results. In those cases in which the electoral system calls for a transfer of power, we call on everyone to engage in the peaceful transfer of power and to uphold the fundamental rights and governing sentiments of the United States Constitution, which seeks to “establish Justice” and “ensure domestic tranquility."
צֶ֥דֶק צֶ֖דֶק תִּרְדֹּ֑ף--May we all merit fulfilling the Torah’s instruction to pursue justice.