As women in the observant Jewish community who support Joe Biden’s candidacy, we find ourselves deeply troubled by the false choice being presented in the upcoming election. Many in our community would have us believe that Donald Trump is the obvious — and only — choice if you are an observant Jew who supports the State of Israel. We find that position to be totally inconsistent with our religious, cultural and ethical beliefs, and are frankly puzzled by its self-contradictory premise.
As women of faith, we are looking for a candidate who brings dignity, tolerance, open-mindedness and compassion to the sacred task of leading this precious country. Character matters to us, and it matters fundamentally. Joe Biden is a principled, deeply empathic human being with a gravitas borne of many life experiences — some very difficult — over the course of his long and distinguished career. He has an intrinsic sense of how to create collaborative relationships, and he builds upon these relationships to create consensus for the benefit of every American.
Our religion stands on the pillars of justice, mercy and lovingkindness; and these principles shape our point of view and our expectations from our leaders. Voting for someone as devoid of ethics, judgment and empathy as Trump goes directly against the precepts of our religion. A person who reduces our civic discourse to the most base and primitive level of language and impulse is precisely the opposite of what we stand for. As women, we feel horror at children being ripped from their mothers at the border, and terror at our president’s cavalier dismissal of the dangers of COVID-19, a crisis our families are fighting daily. We are ongoingly shocked that he continually promotes an atmosphere of hate and divisiveness in our country, while we are struggling to provide our children with models of tolerance and empathy.
Our love for Israel is unconditional, and it carries great weight in every aspect of our lives. But it is precisely because of that love that we view Trump’s erratic and impulsive decision-making with distrust. Biden is, and always has been, a dependable friend of Israel; and he understands its challenges and needs. In keeping with this genuine affinity, he has been there for the long term, applying rational decision-making to his policies. He does not subscribe to the flash-in-the-pan, opportunistic, transactional “friendship” that Trump continues to demonstrate.
Israel’s new relations with the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan are positive. However, invoking these achievements to prove Trump’s commitment or shared purpose simply does not recognize the cynical expediency he brings to every situation, and the absence of vision behind his individual actions. There is nothing that strings together his disparate attainments but his self-serving quest for more votes. He will not get ours, and he should not get yours.
The Torah teaches us that we are created in the image of God, and that we are to walk in His ways. It should matter to us deeply — in assessing both a leader’s way of being in the world and the concrete results of his actions — that he “walk” through this terrain with the dignity and respect that will reflect the divine in all of us. Donald Trump debases us all. Joe Biden — in his humility, humanity, and collaborative spirit — lifts us up. To us, the choice is clear. PJC
Gail Butler Bendheim grew up in Pittsburgh and attended Hillel Academy. She is a psychologist in private practice in New York. Yonina Bendheim Jacobson grew up in New York and moved with her family to the Philadelphia area 20 years ago. She is a practicing attorney. Deborah Shapira, originally from Pittsburgh, is an educator and facilitator living in New York. She is an active volunteer for Jewish organizations in both Israel and the U.S.