Elections for the 19th Knesset (Parliament) of the State of Israel will be held tomorrow 22 January 2013. Tomorrow’s election marks the first time that three generations of our family will go to the Polls. The oldest voter in our family is my father-in-law who was born in 1914 and the youngest voter in our family is my son who was born in 1991. Our family has different points of view about which Knesset list we should vote for but on one thing we all agree: Voting in an Israeli National Election is a very special privilege.
Since national elections were declared in late October 2012, elections have been a major topic of discussion around our Shabbat (Friday night) dinner table. We’ve had many loud discussions about who we should vote for and why. Out of respect for my family members privacy I won’t share their political points of view but I will share that I am proud of my children’s ability to debate and analyze each party’s position.
What I am happiest about is that in separate conversations each one of my children recalled that throughout their childhoods I always strove to make election day memorable for them. It is unusual for family members to remember longtime ago childhood events in exactly the same way and yet from their words I realized that my children hold dear the memory of going with me behind the Israeli Ballot Divider and “assisting” me in casting my vote.
Here are some of the highlights they remembered:
My daughter remembered that in June of 1992, I had started crying when the election board officers had asked me to remind my husband to vote…it had been just three months since his murder in the terrorist car bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina…my daughter ever faster than me to understand Hebrew…had quickly responded in her Israeli child’s candor “My Abba (Daddy) is in Heaven, they won’t let him out not even to vote!” Then taking my voter’s envelope I went behind the divider and as my three year old daughter hugged me as I cast my ballot through tears accompanied by her words: “Ima (Mommy), it’s okay, so you vote for Abba too!”
My son remembered that in 1996, when he was five years old, he loudly called out “Ima that’s the wrong Petek (ballot), you want the one that has the Aleph first!” He remembered that his sister shushed him and the election board officials good-naturedly called out: “Ima’s vote is a secret, if you are going to tell on her we’ll have to ask you to leave!”
Both of my children remembered that in 1999, they had an argument about which one of them got to put my ballot in the envelope and which one would place it in the election box.
In 2003, my son had a good laugh because as a 10 year old he was allowed to assist me in casting my ballot but his 12 year old sister had to wait outside!
By 2006 my daughter was able to vote and my son still underage just walked over to the Polling Station with us.
Each child remembers the fun times we had after I cast my vote. Since in Israel Election Day is a Public Holiday after I cast my ballot we’d always go out for lunch together and then declaring it a family afternoon we’d go on to visit at the zoo, or at one of the local museums or if elections were during the warmer months we’d go down to the sea.
Both of my children have already declared that they will remember tomorrow’s election as special because it is the first time that both of them will be casting a ballot in the same election as their grandfather casts his.
Me? I’m just glad that both of my children remember that voting is a privilege and that they have so many positive memories connected to going to the Polling Station!