I must hand it to the progressives. They are doing their best to make sure that the Republican Party will take over the House of Representatives, the Senate, and more state legislatures or governorships. One of the Democrats’ strongest arguments is that Republicans in many states are changing the rules for voting after Trump’s loss to make it harder to vote and take control away from non-partisan election officials and giving it to the legislature. Then the NYC Council passed a law that allowed voting in a municipal election by “a person who is not a United States citizen on the date of the election on which he or she is voting, who is either a lawful permanent resident or authorized to work in the United States, who is a resident of New York City and will have been such a resident for 30 consecutive days or longer by the date of such election.”
In the states where Republicans have the majority in the legislature, new laws they have passed are logical because they are changing the rules to remain in power. In contrast, the new voting law passed by the City Council will have no practical effect. New York City is an overwhelmingly Democratic city and will remain so. There was no need to change the rules to add non-citizens. It was just another item on the progressive wish list to be “inclusive.” This is a gift to the Republicans. They can switch the narrative to this disastrous law, which will anger citizens throughout the country. They can use it to argue that Democrats are not interested in protecting your right to vote. Also, it plays into the Republican narrative that Democrats are soft on immigration because they want immigrants to come and vote as Democrats. What is next? Expanding the law to allow illegal aliens to vote if they live in New York for thirty days? Even if the law, which is being challenged in court, is declared void as violating the state constitution, the political damage is done.
On to my main portion. I would like to thank Rabbi Dr. Elimelech Gottlieb for his writing in last week’s Queens Jewish Link about Zion Cohen. I had no idea that Zion had been accepted into a prestigious yeshiva and offered a full scholarship at Bar Ilan University and his depth of Torah knowledge. Unfortunately, I fell victim to the attitude that I have complained about others having. I judged a person by his job. People tend to be judged by their employment. Whether right or wrong, society does not equate mechanics with great intellectuals.
Another reaction when we hear of a very intelligent person working in a “menial” job is that it is such a waste of talent. Zion proved the fallacy of this argument. He helped many more people as a mechanic than he could have working in a prestigious career. I am one of those people who he helped many times. Also, by choosing this career, it gave him more time to learn Torah.
Since I do not know Zion’s particular situation, I cannot comment about the pressures, if any, he would have been under to go to the yeshiva or college or engage in a more “respectable” or financially satisfactory career. However, there have been other individuals in similar circumstances who did not follow their heart and went into careers because they were pressured to do so. They may make more money but are not really happy with their career choice. I know others who went from job to job, obtained post-college degrees, and spent their whole life searching for the job that others felt was the right fit based on their education. Yet what they really wanted to do was be like Zion and fix things.
The flip side is that when someone is very successful, especially in a field such as education, writing, or communal leadership, we gloss over a potential problem. It is hard to fathom that some of these individuals are morally bankrupt and engage in criminal conduct. As a result, these individuals act with impunity and their victims are afraid to speak out. Even when the victims do speak out, the first reaction of many is to defend the accused. To the defenders, it makes no sense that the person who is intelligent and successful in an important communal position could commit the alleged conduct. We saw this situation play out in Israel. The initial reaction by some was to defend the accused. In contrast, if the accused had been employed in a menial position, I doubt there would have been such a rush to his defense.
Even when it is clear that the person did live what some would call a double life, it is hard for some to accept. I have been in that position having to come to terms with someone who engaged in serious misconduct even if did not reach the level as that individual in Israel. Someone told me that they thought that there was something off about him. Although I did not know the person very well, I felt betrayed that this person who held himself out to the community as a respected leader could engage in such conduct. It also made me my question my ability to judge people. If so many people were in the dark about this person, then how can we be sure about anyone?
One place to start is by not judging a person based on their socioeconomic status. Zion proved that you can be a great person without having a college education or being a professional.