By a Monsey, NY, resident
Like most Americans, I’m fed up with the presidential election. But as a Monsey resident for over 25 years, I’m a bit weary over our local elections, too.
The process is always the same: askanim present us with endorsements the day before, if not the day of, the election. These instructions are said to be for the good of our community and on behalf of the rabbonim.
But let’s be honest: are we really better off than we were years ago? There’s more overdevelopment, more traffic and more building and fire safety issues. And all of this seems headed in only one direction – worse.
It’s not like our candidates have burnished our reputation either. Our town has been the subject of incredibly negative press – from the Town Board to the School Board – locally, statewide, and even nationally. (A pretty amazing accomplishment for a small-town school board.) Of course, a candidate for statewide office has an even bigger platform to do damage.
Which leads to their next argument: ok, our candidates aren’t so great, but we can’t let in the opposition candidates – they’ll take away our yeshivos, they’re anti-Semitic!
Maybe. But I think our elected officials feed the hatred against us. And then they cry we need them even more, so they can do more damage, and cry how we need them even more, etc., etc. I can’t help thinking we’re stoking the flames ourselves.
But the clincher for me is the last argument – that the askanim are only communicating how the rabbonim want us to vote.
Really? I’ve spoken to some rabbonim whose names appeared on recent “endorsements.” They clearly and emphatically said not to use their names, and even supported different candidates. Yet, this didn’t stop these stout-hearted askanim from spreading their word as they see fit.
We need to fix this system. This year, I have a new way of voting. I’ll wait for the askanim lists, and then I won’t vote for their candidates, whether or not I vote for anyone else. Maybe it’ll make a difference, maybe it won’t. But looking in the mirror will be a little easier.