Although it’s been two weeks since the municipal elections, the excitement has yet to die down.
In a handful of cities, run-offs are being held today, because no single candidate garnered a clear majority. Meanwhile, serious allegations of widespread fraud and vote tampering have prompted residents of another city to demand an investigation and, if necessary, a revote.
Would it be totally inappropriate for me to take advantage of their situation to plug my post on Torani communities? ;-) </shameless self-promotion>
And outside the cities – i.e. in the villages, kibbutzim, moshavim, and other smaller communities that make up the rest of the country – the process is only just beginning. Elections for the regional and local councils are not scheduled to take place until December.
Yet, contrary to what some of the above would lead you to believe, elections don’t necessarily have to be about infighting and controversies.
I mean, consider the following story:
With the permission of the administration, the Shminist and the other 12th graders at his yeshiva high school were hired to work for a certain political party on Election Day. (The money they earned will go toward the Hachtarah, their graduation, and other end-of-the-year activities.)
Each senior was given a different job, and the Shminist was assigned to a particular voting station as an observer (i.e. a mashkif, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you).
The people at the station – both the election officials and the voters - represented a wide array of parties, but nevertheless, a wonderful sense of camaraderie pervaded the room. For instance, they joked about which party brought its employee the best food. (All agreed that the Shminist and his party won, hands down. Apparently his pizza trumped everyone else’s egg sandwiches and tired pastries. :-))
In any event, at about 2-3 in the afternoon, things quieted down, during the lull between the lunch break crowd and the post-work rush. Someone suggested that it would be a good time to daven minchah, but a quick count revealed that there were only 8 kippah-wearing men in the immediate vicinity.
But before anyone could go outside to round up a few extra men, a woman – who represented a decidedly secular party and whose outward appearance indicated that she wasn’t especially religiously observant – piped up.
“You don’t have enough for a minyan? How about those two guys over there?” she asked, and then called out to a couple of bareheaded young men in the corner. “Hey! They’re a little short over here. Would you be willing to make up the minyan?”
“Happily!” they replied, and they sounded like they meant it.
The Shminist later reported that he assumed that the two men’s sole contribution to the cause would be to stand off on the side in order to be technically counted for the minyan, but he misjudged them.
Not only did they wrap t-shirts around their heads as makeshift kippot, but they actually davened with everyone else.
And several hours later, when it was time for maariv, the minyan was again comprised of a beautiful mix of religious and secular Jews.
It was a moving lesson in achdut (unity) for the Shminist and his friends, and it proved that far away from the blaring headlines, Israelis think of themselves as one big, boisterous but loving family:
”כאיש אחד בלב אחד.“
“As one man, with one heart.”
(Rashi – Shmot 19:2)