Lacking large-party coattails this time, Meimad's Melchior stumps for votes

Green Movement-Meimad leader Rabbi Michael Melchior came out to vote and canvass voters on Tuesday morning with a spring in his step and a twinkle in his eye. "This time we are putting ourselves out there [and running on our own merits], " he told The Jerusalem Post outside the voting booth in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem. Melchior's Meimad ran on a joint list with Labor in the last elections. This time, he indicated, the campaign had been more exciting, because there was a real chance his party might not get into the Knesset. Melchior had donned a party T-shirt featuring the party's logo and a picture of a baby, atop his customary attire of black suit, white shirt and tie. Standing out in the cold, Melchior greeted voters cheerfully and made frequent puns on the party's ballot letter heh. "With God's help [b'ezrat Hashem], we will succeed today," he smilingly told one voter. God's name is frequently abbreviated as the letter heh. In his own neighborhood, the long-time head of Meimad, who has spent the past decade as an MK, was constantly recognized by supporters and neighbors alike. Many shook his hand and wished him luck. Just outside the voting booth, a man approached Melchior and his wife, Hana, and expressed his intention to vote for the party. Upon exiting the booth, he showed Melchior the ballot he had placed in his envelope. Alas, the hapless voter had gotten confused - instead of the heh of the Green Movement-Meimad, he had put in the resh-kuf of the Greens. Half smiling, half wincing, Melchior assured the wannabe supporter that it was an honest mistake. Melchior then worried aloud about whether that same mistake would repeat itself elsewhere. Doing some last-minute politicking, Melchior tried to convince Dana Babin-Goldberg, a soldier serving in the Israel Air Force, to vote green. Her mother, Gila Goldberg, had passed Melchior her cell phone with her daughter on the other end. Goldberg, one of Melchior's congregants at his Talpiot synagogue, bumped into him at the voting booth and had some questions about whether he would divide Jerusalem or not. Sticking to the party line, Melchior pointed out that the Green Movement-Meimad was about education, environmental and social issues, and not so much about peace and security. Nevertheless, he replied, that it depended what they were talking about, adding that Abu Dis and Shuafat were not part of Jerusalem. Melchior then proceeded to do a round of canvassing at the other voting booths in the city and beyond. In the Baka and Talpiot neighborhoods, the party's presence was very strong. Signs and volunteers greeted voters at every polling place. One volunteer said they would have representatives at most of the 9,000 polls around the country. Their last-minute campaign relied heavily on volunteers and word of mouth, in an effort to create a buzz.