Abortion Atlanta Conservative Current Issues Democrat election day environment Feminism feminist gun rights Liberal liberal vs. conservative midterms personal growth Progressive Views Republican voting women

Why I’m An Orthodox Jewish Liberal; Why I’m an Orthodox Jewish Conservative

Editor’s Word: Last week at my daughter’s faculty, I noticed an exquisite quote by Abraham Lincoln. One among his basic’s stated, “We should pray that God is on our side. Lincoln responded, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

With the midterm elections solely hours away and a country more divided than ever, we are searching for some widespread floor. Perhaps, what upsets me probably the most concerning the present political local weather is the shortage of self-doubt. We’re positive that OUR aspect is the aspect of fact and that the other aspect is manipulative and power-hungry and can do anything to that finish. We lately polled 400 of our readers and 15% advised us they consider their political opponent isn’t just incorrect, but truly evil.

But when both halves the country thinks that concerning the other half, what are we left with? At the moment, we’re publishing an article co-written by an Orthodox Jewish Liberal and an Orthodox Jewish Conservative, about how they see Torah values in their political persuasion. Sure, there are power-hungry extremists on each side, but I firmly consider that most individuals attempt to do good on this world. We don’t know if God is on our aspect, however we should always pray that we are on His. (Please word, we’re publishing the Liberal perspective first as it is more unusual in the Orthodox Jewish group and matches our tagline of “Orthodox. Unexpected.”)

Why I’m An Orthodox Jewish Liberal

By Rachel Wasserman

In my Atlanta group, I am an anomaly. I belong to the more “right-wing” Orthodox synagogue, and yet I proudly vote blue down the line and converse freely about my liberal political beliefs. To me, the 2 aren’t incompatible, and but individuals typically react with surprise once they hear this is the case. There’s an assumption that Orthodox Jews are all politically conservative. In response to a survey by the American Jewish Committee, within the 2016 presidential election, 54% of Orthodox Jews voted for Trump, whereas solely 13% voted for Clinton. While these stands out as the statistics nationally, in my Orthodox neighborhood, it appears much more imbalanced. Usually, I try to avoid political discussions with members of my Orthodox group. I don’t take pleasure in debating politics, so I find it simpler to go away the topic alone and focus extra on what unites us than what divides us. On the similar time, I am unapologetic about my politics, which may typically lead to teasing from fellow congregants. While my outward response tends to be smiling and shortly altering the topic, these incidents all the time remind me about my outsider status.

I did not turn into Orthodox until my early 20s, at which level my political beliefs have been firmly set. By that time, I had graduated from a notoriously liberal college and was pursuing a career in social work, a area largely occupied by progressive ladies. I used to be a feminist, a humanitarian, a social activist, and now an Orthodox Jew. To me, these have been all in good alignment. Dwelling a life dictated by Torah commandments didn’t take away from any of my liberal views. If anything, being Orthodox added to my sense that making the world a better place is a duty that falls on all of our shoulders. My favorite lesson from all of Talmud is Pirchei Avot 2:21, which teaches, “you are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” To me, that is Hashem telling us that we should always work every single day to make the world a greater place for everybody in it, which is identical underlying belief that dictates my liberal politics.

I am hard-wired to be progressive. To me, it was never a selection. Liberal political values really feel pure to me. I consider that it is society’s duty to look after the disadvantaged, and that the government should ensure primary human wants are met and that folks reside with dignity and equality. I feel our authorities is uniquely positioned to look after its citizens and that human rights and civil liberties must take priority over individual rights. We see these classes repeatedly within the Torah as nicely. The Guide of Exodus offers tips for taking good care of orphans, widows, and strangers. In Leviticus, we study leaving the corners of our fields for the poor.

I’ve all the time valued having a various group of pals, and as a toddler my closest companions have been racially, ethnically, and religiously totally different from myself. Nevertheless, it wasn’t till I used to be in my 30s and moved to Atlanta that I shaped shut friendships with individuals who have totally different political beliefs than my own. While my Orthodox pals and I do not frequently talk about politics with each other, we have now been capable of achieve respect for one another’s opinions and put a face to the “other.” In the tense political climate that has enveloped us for the past few years, I discover excessive value in this.

There isn’t any one mould on the subject of Orthodox Jews. We gown in another way, we speak in another way, and we vote in another way. What unites us all is our perception that the Torah is the word of Hashem, and that we are duty-bound to simply accept its commandments. Outdoors of that, we now have the freedom to precise our individuality. For me, my politics and my religion are seamlessly married, and while I do typically feel like a minority inside a minority, I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

Why I’m an Orthodox Jewish Conservative

by Yali Elkin

Conservatism – as it was once taught – is a philosophy that protects the person from tyranny of the bulk. It is based mostly on the concept citizens are unbiased sufficient to make their very own life decisions and stay with the results.

This resonates profoundly with many Torah Jews. Such a society requires a high ethical minimal, as the USA’ founders acknowledged. For this grand experiment in self-governance to succeed, they noted that the individuals have to be virtuous and educated. Conservatism opposes an encroaching state, and protects our proper to worship, research and stay as Jews whereas enjoying the complete rights of citizenship.

Conservatism is rooted in an intellectual humility concerning the limits of the federal government, a case underscored by the repeated, embarrassing failures of overly-ambitious government undertakings (corresponding to certain anti-poverty measures or instructional insurance policies which have executed nothing to improve their targets). This colors my strategy to emotionally-fraught issues like the setting, abortion, and gun rights, however it additionally informs my views on the very position of presidency to begin with.

The Surroundings

The Torah teaches that we were given dominion over the stability of creation and advised to be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth and subduing it (Genesis 1:28). That is at odds with the liberal fears of inhabitants crisis. Equally, the apocalyptic predictions of environmental catastrophe appear considerably alarmist once I read “the world stands firm, it cannot be shaken” (Psalms 93:1). The identical goes for rising ocean levels once we read Borchi Nafshi (Psalm 104) every Rosh Chodesh.

In fact, this isn’t to say that we ought to be wasteful or wantonly damaging. We’re explicitly commanded to be trustworthy stewards of the earth. We can’t destroy timber for no cause, and even in a siege, fruit-bearing ones are protected. However neither our valuable youngsters’s nor our use of assets threatens G-d’s handiwork in creating the world.


While abortion-as-contraception is halakhically forbidden, there are Torah thresholds of life, viability and maternal well being that differ from authorized definitions. Abortion-on-demand has turn out to be more widespread, as the number carried out in the US annually is daunting. One can sympathize with the minority of mothers who need one for exigent medical circumstances while weeping for people who seek them for comfort. The Torah perspective on this aligns rather more with conservative values than with liberal ones.


Prominently featured in America’s DNA is the individual’s proper to keep and bear arms. America gained independence via armed farmers defending their houses towards probably the most intimidating army on the planet. The devices of their victory have been enshrined within the Second Amendment and it is one thing distinctive to anyone accustomed to Jewish historical past. Because the destruction of the Temple, Jews have been topics, not residents. But since 1789, we have now all the time been full residents of this nice nation, trusted to maintain and bear arms like everybody else. An armed society is a well mannered one and a well mannered society respects particular person rights. Proudly owning guns is both in complete concord with halakha and, fairly probably, a good suggestion to anybody accustomed to Jewish historical past. Sure, they’re weapons created to kill, however what issues – like with automobiles, knives or other inanimate objects utilized in crimes – is the intent and capability of the consumer. They’re, the truth is, used more to stop crimes than commit them.

Conservative insurance policies empower individuals and shield our freedoms and liberties. But for such a social vision to flourish, it requires citizens to be charitable, educated and engaged. Handing off these duties to the government is to courtroom catastrophe (and doesn’t satisfy our obligations to offer tzedakah or to teach our youngsters). That is one thing that many committed, educated and observant Jews like me rejoice and embrace. The facility of the state has undermined and threatened Jewish rights for hundreds of years. It’s one thing we should always seek to attenuate.

Lastly, conservatives still subscribe to ethical absolutes. To be conservative is to have the arrogance to make worth judgments about tradition and to have fun – and construct on – what’s greatest about ours. It takes a modicum of such ethical readability, for example, to determine Israel as wholly deserving of America’s help and friendship on the one hand, and the nihilistic Arab terrorists who want nothing greater than Israel’s destruction on the opposite. This was a easy and plain bipartisan actuality. Sadly, it has turn into a wedge situation, with the typical conservative politician immediately being a more ardent supporter of the US-Israel alliance and friendship than probably the most pro-Israel liberal. On this level alone, I consider, the edges couldn’t be more clearly outlined.

As Margaret Thatcher famously famous, “the facts of life are conservative.” That is why I vote the best way I do.

Concerning the Authors:

Rachel Wasserman is a social activist, working mom, feminist, and author and speaker about ladies’s leadership and philanthropy. Rachel acquired her bachelor’s from Brown College in Psychology and Judaic Research, her master’s in Social Work from Columbia College, and her master’s in Jewish Studies from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She is a Jewish communal professional who grew up on a farm in Lexington, Kentucky and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia. These views are her own and do not mirror the beliefs of her employer.

Yali Elkin is a CFO and avid reader who lives in Teaneck, New Jersey together with his spouse and youngsters.

How I Deal With “Thank You For Not Making Me A Woman” (Shelo Asani Isha) Blessing » « What Does Judaism Consider About Politics and Authorities?