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Story Time

Even the little people around here have become seasoned election analysts



Last Wednesday, my younger set of Sabras jumped on me the minute they got home from school.

“Did they finish counting the votes yet? How many seats did Bibi get?” one asked.

“And what about Gimmel?” another piped up. “And Shas, did they get more than last time?”

Even the little people around here have become seasoned election analysts; that’s what happens when your neighborhood is overrun by election posters and political jingles more often than it’s covered with snowflakes.

I gave them the latest counts (no, the numbers weren’t really final yet; yes, the coalition was a foregone conclusion).

“Wow, Lieberman only got five seats?” my six-year-old asked. “That’s good, Mommy, right? It means the plates and cups won’t be so expensive!”

It was cute, and also sobering. For too many people, the pitched battle to upend Israel’s religious character had been overshadowed by painful, albeit pettier matters.

I guess that comment was still in the back of my mind when an older child overheard me discussing some of the demographic trends at play and said, “This is really interesting to you, isn’t it?”

Yes, something about this ongoing drama — really so many election dramas — is genuinely interesting to me. I tried to pinpoint what it was.

For some people, it’s the numbers game — much like a sports competition, the focus on who’s up versus who’s down grips their imagination and attention.

For those with a Klal Yisrael consciousness, the gravity of these particular elections made them pivotal. We’ve seen what a coalition antagonistic to Torah can do, the damage it can wreak. So many sacred matters were at stake.

And for some people it really is the price of paper goods. Justifiably so: When the election results affect your ability to make it through the month, you don’t need any imagination to find them compelling.

But I think that what interests all of us election-watchers — whether it’s an Israeli election, a race for governor in some far-off state, or a neck-and-neck senate battle — is the human drama. The egos, the gambles, the clashes of personalities and principles, the very real hopes and fears fueling individual candidates as well as entire demographics’ rifts and shifts.

As producers of a weekly magazine, we know that our function in the news pages is not reporting facts. By the time you open this package, you’re long acquainted with the numbers, the percentages, the data. You’re not looking to us for that.

You already know the results of Israel’s election; by the time you read this, you’ll probably know the results of America’s elections too. So we chose to tell the story of Israel’s latest ballot battle by zooming in on a few key players and tracing their political journeys. Even if you’re not personally affected by these elections, these pieces are dramatic, absorbing portraits of power plays with very high stakes.

Between the lines of the human dramas you’ll find a lot of political commentary and big-picture analysis: demands and concessions, strategic risks and blunders, natural and unnatural alliances. But we chose to frame the news without any of the “experts discuss” or “pundits analyze” or “day after discussions” that felt so overdone — to us, and probably to you as well.

One definition of journalism is “storytelling with purpose.” This week, that’s the course we chose: to tell the very political story of a nail-biting election not by recounting numbers and seats and deals, but through the human drama at its heart.


—Shoshana Friedman

Managing Editor



 (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 935)

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