The point of no return: Round 2 election as Judgment Day

THE KNESSET building: Englargement in the offing? (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
THE KNESSET building: Englargement in the offing?
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The upcoming election, round two, presents a critical juncture for the future of the State of Israel. On September 17, we will decide how the next years will look, possibly shaping our future chapters even beyond the next four years.
The election period arrives just before a parallel one in the Jewish calendar. The High Holy Day season is traditionally the time during which God determines the events of the next year for each individual and for the world as a whole.
“Who will live and who will die?” the cantor sings, bringing to mind our concerns over our physical well-being in the new year. This liturgical poem “Unetanah Tokef” takes on an additional layer of meaning for me this year. As I hear the haunting lines, “Who will strive and who will struggle?” I consider not only the physical conditions of life and death, but also the health of our most cherished values –  democracy, pluralism, and equality. This year, will they live or die?
“And You will apportion a budget [kitzvah] to each creature,” the piyut continues. Where will the state budget be directed? Toward amplifying the voices of the marginalized, or to extremist organizations that threaten the foundations of a Jewish and democratic state?
This September 17 is like an early Rosh Hashanah, a time of vision and intention. Who will the nation choose to realize its aspirations?
Yom Kippur’s solemnity follows the shofar’s initial cries. We try to influence or appeal the decision made in days prior. In the case of Israeli democracy, there is the formation of a governing coalition, give-and-take transactions, promises made and fingers pointed.
Only on Shmini Atzeret, at the end of the Sukkot festival, is the final judgment for the year settled. Likewise, the new Knesset is finally sworn into power, and our leaders’ commitment to their campaign promises will be tested and revealed.
Like the journey of the High Holy Days, from anticipation to manifestation, the 2019 election, round two, is a process of fulfilling our destiny. Who are we as a country and what will we become? Where will women be silenced in the public sphere? How will we be allowed to marry – and with whom? What will our children be taught in schools? What will Shabbat look like in public spaces?
I retired my IDF uniform years ago, but since joining Women of the Wall I now don a new uniform: tallit and tefillin. Armed with a Torah scroll, I go out to battle for the sake of all Jews, no matter what stream, and the Jewish future I am determined to see flourish in the state.
“I will not be silent though my land has changed its face... I will not yield until she opens her eyes” (from the Israeli song, “Ayn Li Eretz Aheret” “I Have No Other Land”).
I will not be silenced. My voice is not a distraction. It is powerful. I will not fear or fold, “though my country’s face is changing.” Because it is up to me – to all of us – to be the faces of change and hope for a better Israel.
The writer is Women of the Wall’s executive director.