As the November 2nd election nears, Jews are reminded of their obligation to be engaged in the community and actively are fulfilling their civic duty to participate in the democratic process.
Congregations organize to register and educate voters
Contact: Alexis Rice 202.387.2800
New York, October 29, 2004- As the November 2nd election nears, Jews are reminded of their obligation to be engaged in the community and actively are fulfilling their civic duty to participate in the democratic process. Get Out the Vote 2004, a guide created by the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism and distributed by a consortium of major U.S. Jewish groups to help the Jewish community register and educate voters for the upcoming elections, has made a significant impact on congregations across the nation.
Get Out the Vote 2004 has especially encouraged Union for Reform Judaism congregations across the country to become more involved in get-out-the-vote efforts. The guide was sent to every Union congregation and is available online at www.rac.org. Congregations have conducted successful voter registration drives, helped college students and homebound citizens vote absentee, organized carpools to take voters to polling locations on Election Day, educated voters about the issues through candidate forums and debates, and established and participated in grassroots coalitions with local organizations to ensure higher voter participation in this year’s election.
“There is so much at stake in the upcoming presidential and congressional elections, including vital political, economic, and moral issues important to all Americans as well as issues of special concern to Reform Jews,” said Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. “Reform Jewish congregations across the country have organized to make sure their members are educated on the issues and vote.”
Additionally, Get Out the Vote 2004 has helped congregations clarify the regulations governing political participation by non-profits and religious institutions. For example, the guide instructs congregations and organizations to ensure that their voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts are strictly non-partisan, and reminds them that tax-exempt religious institutions are expressly prohibited from endorsing candidates.
Below is a sampling of what Union for Reform Judaism congregations across the country have done in their communities to help get out the vote:
Temple Beth Sholom, Miami Beach, FL
Held voter registration drives and encouraged congregants to volunteer at local precincts as poll watchers
Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood, CA
Providing rides to the polls, hosting an election night party, conducted a voter registration drive, and held educational forum on California Proposition 71 concerning stem cell research
Congregation Beth Israel, Portland, OR
Hosted a mayoral debate, held Faith and Politics forum, and sponsored a voter registration drive
Beth David Reform Congregation, Gladwyne, PA
Had registration and absentee request forms available at the congregation, included absentee ballot request in High Holiday packets to college students, hosted congressional candidate forum
Oak Park Temple, Oak Park, IL
Participated in the interdenominational coalition, United Power for Action and Justice, which sponsored local voter registration drives
Congregation Beth Am; Los Altos Hills, CA
Registered new voters, cosponsored with the League of Women Voters a candidate’s forum, and participated in community-wide political participation events.
The Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism (CSA) is a joint body of the Union for Reform Judaism, representing more than 900 congregations across North America encompassing 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis. The CSA oversees the work of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.