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‘Your rabbi wants you to vote’: Jews vote, wait for news and worry over future of democracy

Jewish voters have ranked democracy as a more important electoral concern than the economy

The nation’s roughly 6 million Jewish voters, many of whom have expressed surging levels of concern over the health of American democracy, were urged to get the polls in Tuesday’s midterm election by a host of organizations.

“Your rabbi wants you to vote,” T’ruah, the liberal association of rabbis, wrote on Twitter.

Jewish voters are likely to be paying attention to races across the country at a time when they have expressed high levels of motivation to participate — 9.3 on a scale of 1 to 10, according to a September poll — and listed the “future of democracy” and abortion as their top issues.

Concerns over democracy have taken center stage since former President Donald Trump’s refusal to recognize the results of the 2020 presidential election and the subsequent riot at the U.S. Capitol. Many Republican candidates running for office across the country have likewise refused to accept the 2020 results as legitimate and have made unfounded claims of mass voter fraud.

Per that September poll, Jews have also expressed a higher level of concern about the election’s potential consequences for American democracy than the general voting public, a majority of whom ranked the economy ranked as their top issue. In contrast, 45% percent of Jewish voters ranked democracy as one of their top two issues, while 38% selected abortion. Only 28% who said “inflation and the economy” were a top priority.

“Jews have it better in America than we’ve had it anywhere else in the diaspora for the last 2,000 years and that’s primarily a function of American democracy,” said Aaron Dorfman, the founder of A More Perfect Union: The Jewish Partnership for Democracy, which has been recruiting Jewish organizations to join a nonpartisan coalition supporting fair elections.

It said Tuesday that its members, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Reform movement and Hadassah, had recruited more than 400 poll workers across the country, including 150 from the National Council of Jewish Women and 90 from Repair the World.

Throughout Election Day, Jewish federations and JCCs posted generic, nonpartisan appeals to vote. Political groups released more pointed statements.

“While this election cycle has been marred by the agenda of white supremacist individuals and movements, we also have the opportunity to work toward the ideals of justice and equality that we strive for as a democracy,” Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah’s director, said in a statement condemning the prospect of political violence.

Meanwhile, organizations like Democratic Majority for Israel and the Republican Jewish Committee promoted messages from the candidates they had endorsed.

“For every political operative this is the worst day of the campaign,” Matt Brooks, the Republican group’s director, said on Twitter. “The cake is baked, there’s nothing left to do except sit around, wait and call every other political hack in the echo chamber and ask ‘whatcha hearing.’”

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