From the Ballot Box to the Bimah: Get Out and Vote

By Matt Golden

In my short time working with him, I have come to the conclusion that JCRC member Frank Schwartz asks very good questions. At our last JCRC meeting, Frank asked a very simple one but wrapped in so many layers: who holds our local judges responsible for their actions? The simple answer is, of course, that we do as voters. Voters bear the ultimate power to place a judge in a position of authority and the ultimate responsibility to exercise that power wisely. This is seventh grade civics. Yet, from a Jewish perspective, Frank’s question deserves more than just a simple answer and I think that’s why Frank asked it. At the meeting, as the CRC members debated elections, the quality of candidates in general, and judicial candidates in particular, it became clear that Frank’s question needed a Jewish answer and a Jewish call to action. 

Jews have an intense religious connection to elections in general and on election of judges specifically. On the former, the Torah calls on us to make valid choices (Deut. 30:18) that impact the pursuit of justice; including justice for the widow, stranger and orphan among us so that we can live in a just world. From the Talmud, it is clear that no ruler should be selected without community involvement. From Hillel, to the Rashbam, to present day Rabbis like Moshe Feinstein of blessed memory, it is clear that we have a Jewish responsibility to vote. As Rabbi Feinstein said:

A fundamental principle of Judaism is hakaras hatov — recognizing benefits afforded us and giving expression to our appreciation. Therefore, it is incumbent upon each Jewish citizen to participate in the democratic system which safeguards the freedoms we enjoy. The most fundamental responsibility incumbent on each individual is to register and to vote. 

Perhaps this is why we can proudly say that the Jewish ethos on voting rights and responsibilities found its way into the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 60s, guaranteeing the right of the vote to all. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was literally drafted in the conference room of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Locally, that tradition is still very much alive, with our JCRC Chair, Beth Salamon, and the National Council of Jewish Women driving voting response on issues of women’s reproductive freedoms in the upcoming Kentucky constitutional referendum. In general, Jews vote. 

 A Jewish person’s responsibilities on judicial elections are even greater. We are specifically commanded to “seek out” the right candidates with important qualifications: truthful people who hate corruption. (Ex. 18:21). Judges who will not favor rich over poor, or poor over rich, in their disputes. (Lev. 19:15). Maimondes expanded these requirements into several fundamental qualities, including: wisdom, humility, disdain for riches, a love of truth, a love of people and a good reputation; eschewing wrong and injustice. 

From this, I believe there are two takeaways for judicial elections from the Jewish perspective: Yes, we must vote, but we must also vote from a “very informed place” when it comes to judges. When we “seek out” judicial candidates we must do so based upon their qualifications. The JCRC immediately jumped into action to help.

On the JCRC’s webpage, the JCRC has provided links and resources on where to vote, how to vote, and a sample judicial ballot showing the contested and uncontested judicial races in Jefferson County.  I would also encourage you to seek out resources that align with your values as there are polls, endorsements and informational resources an internet search away. Ask a lawyer, a friend, a justice-involved person, to help you do the good work of “seeking out.”  We, at the JCRC, have deliberately not endorsed any candidates; JCRC’s mission is much broader than any one person. 

As you leaf through this issue of Community, you will find more judicial advertisements that ever before. This should be a compliment to our community as it is a recognition that we do vote and we are informed. You will see the same advertisements in yard signs, television ads, and social media pushes.  However, this does not obviate our command to “seek out” and become informed on the qualifications of those who we give our precious vote.  

In short, we have a Jewish obligation to “seek out” information on our judges and vote accordingly. 

In recognition of this, our congregational many of our Rabbis and Cantors are going to have an “I Voted” Shabbat on Friday November 4. Election day is going to be November 8, 2022, but early voting, which a person can do without an excuse, will be November 3, 4 and 5, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at six locations you can find linked on our website at As it is within the CRC’s mission to build bridges, we would note that one of those locations is at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, 1701 West Muhammad Ali Blvd. As we move from the ballot box to the Bimah, you might consider voting early and attending or streaming this Shabbat celebration at the synagogue of your choice.  

As I said, Frank Schwartz asks good questions. The Jewish perspective on the responsibility of voting and making informed choices about judges is a fundamental tenet of who we are.  We bear the ultimate responsibility for the judges we place in positions of power.  We, as voters, are the ultimate authority over them. Please do Frank’s question justice by seeking out qualified judges for our community.  

Matt Golden is a lawyer and the Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.   In his opinion, the JCRC is the most august body in the Jewish Community, seeking justice and doing tikkun olam.  He is admittedly very partial and biased in this regard.  He invites comments, suggestions or airing of grievances at   

Voter’s Information Guide

Here is where to find your voting location on the traditional “election day,” Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If you would like to vote early, there is “no excuse voting” at several locations around Jefferson County on November 3, 4 and 5, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.  More information can be found here:

(No excuse, or early voting, is permissible for all—no special qualifications apply).   

You can also find mail-in information for absentee voting at the link above, but you must qualify to vote absentee voting. 

If you have questions about voting in the upcoming general election, please email

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