Bungling Boris Johnson plans election on day when Orthodox Jews can’t vote


Bungling Boris Johnson is plotting an election on the day when Orthodox Jews cannot vote.

Members of the Jewish community are concerned they will be disenfranchised.

The proposed polling day of Monday October 14 falls on the second day of the festival of Sukkot.

The first two days are considered Yom tov meaning treated like the Jewish Sabbath when those who are Orthodox can’t work.

This would include driving to the polling station but, more critically, even holding using a pencil to make a cross would not be allowed.

Jewish community leaders are encouraging those who will observe the festival to register for a postal vote.

But there are concerns that the date means many Orthodox Jews could be disenfranchised.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews have written to the government expressing their concerns.

Orthodox Jews won’t be able to vote on 14th October

Vice President Amanda Bowman said: “While we understand that the situation surrounding Brexit means that there is very little flexibility over dates, we have been in touch with the Government to explain the concerns and difficulties that our community would face.

Jews make up a significant percentage of voters in a number of constituencies across the UK largely in London, Manchester and Leeds.

Among those are key Tory-Labour marginals such as Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon, Bury South and Ilford North.

Jewish voters were expected to play a crucial role in any coming election because of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis.

Many who had been lifelong Labour voters have rejected the party under Jeremy Corbyn .

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The Jewish vote came under the microscope in Barnet, North London in the 2018 local elections.

Barnet was in no overall control with Labour needing to win just two wards to seize power – one of which, Hale, was held by one vote by the Tories.

Instead they lost three councillors in West Hendon where there is a significant Jewish population and lost Hale, where the Jewish population, especially the number of Orthodox families, has increased over the past few years.

Rabbi Lerer of the Central Synagogue in London said the timing could be considered a “double edged sword” for many Jews who want to vote against Labour because of the “threat” from the party they once saw as their political home.

 

He told the Mirror that Jews feel it is their duty to participate in the democratic process.

He said: “It’s considered a duty for the Jew to vote.

“We say a prayer each week in the Synagogue for peace for the Royal Family and for the government.

“We value the democracy, we value our ability to vote and we definitely see it as an important part of a religion to be able to do so.”

He expressed concerns that they would be prevented for doing so explaining: “We cannot vote on the day itself. It’s like Sabbath for us – we cannot pick up a pencil even.

Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism has caused concern among the Jewish community

“We wouldn’t be able to tick a box in a polling booth.

“Plus there are other implications for Orthodox Jews just to get to their polling station – they can’t drive there so they would have to be in walking distance and for the elderly that would be very difficult as well.

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“I’m not expecting Boris Johnson to have considered the Orthodox Jewish community but there will be implications for them.”

All voters can register for a postal vote but the deadline is likely to be around three weeks before polling day meaning they may have just a few weeks to make an arrangement.

Synagogues are also often used as polling stations but won’t be during Sukkot.

There is also some concern about whether Orthodox Jews would be able to stand at all in an election because they could be considered to be encouraging other Jews who are unaware to break the rules and vote on the day.

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There is a saying in the Jewish faith that says “Before the blind, do not put a stumbling block”.

The Jewish leadership council has said it will be encouraging Jews to apply for a postal vote and its understood they are considering raising their concerns with the PM.

A spokesperson said: “We are concerned that many observant Jewish voters could be disenfranchised by an election being called on a Jewish holiday and we have made representations to the government on this matter.

“We will be asking our community to sign up for postal votes as a matter of urgency so they can exercise their democratic vote.”





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