Yom Kippur reconsidered

June 27, 2013 by Henry Benjamin
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Prime Minister Kevin Rudd refused to be drawn in to declaring a new date for the 2013 Federal Election but he said that Yom Kippur was a date which had to be factored into the decision.

The September 14 date earmarked by the previous administration under the former PM Julia Gillard would have affected Jewish voters.

Prime Minister Rudd, asked by the Opposition,mentioned dates which would conflict with an election including the September G20 Conference in St Petersburg and also mentioned Yom Kippur during his first Question Time…the last of the current parliament.

He referred Tony Abbott to the Constitution when pressed for a date with Mr Abbott repeatedly asking: “When will the election be?”

Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, who heads the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, said he received an anonymous phone call from a boy more t told J-Wire: “At the end of the day, Jewish voters should use the postal option as there is halachically little difference between Shabbat and Yom Kippur…you cannot write on either.”

But Rabbi Ralph Genende of Melbourne’s Caulfield Hebrew COngregation said: “It’s very satisfying to see that some politicians recognise the importance of Yom Kippur and that is the holiest day of the year for their Jewish constituents.”

Dr Danny Lamm, president of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry added: “An election scheduled for Yom kippur was very disappointing and we raised our concerns at the time.  We would welcome an election date change

All Australian elections take place on a Saturday.


One Response to “Yom Kippur reconsidered”
  1. Mark says:

    With due respect to Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, one has to accept that many Jews do write (and ride) on Shabbat, but that many of these Jews do not do so on Yom Kippur. This is much the same as in what happens in the Christian community, in which many Christians do not go to church on Sundays but do do so on Christmas and/or Easter.

    Some orthodox Jews may regard this as hypocrisy, but not all Jews are strictly orthodox – not even those who are members of orthodox congregations. I would guess that in practice, the ‘average Australian Jew’ does regard the observance of Yom Kippur as more important than the observance of Shabbat.

    Rabbis and highly observant Jews will scoff at this, but most Jews are not highly observant. Less orthodox Jews are, nevertheless, practising their religion in the way they think is reasonable and I think it was wrong of Julia Gillard to have ignored this. Such Jews want to take part in the elections on polling day, like everyone else in the community. (Orthodox Jews have always been the exception and have had to make postal votes so the change to Yom Kippur does not affect them. They are, of course entitled to lobby for elections not to be held on Saturdays – which is another, and more difficult, issue).

    I am disappointed that Jewish leaders have not taken into consideration the practices of the majority of Jews when making pronouncements on behalf of the Jewish community, and that they do not seem to be aware that ours is a pluralistic religion – like all other religions.

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