Local voters weigh Israel and domestic issues

Local voters weigh Israel and domestic issues

Months of arguments, days without power, last-minute decisions

A lone election worker stood shivering at the top of the driveway at Ahawas Achim B'nai Jacob & David, waving voters to another polling station a half-mile away at the Wilshire Grand Hotel on Pleasant Valley Way.

On Election Day the Orthodox synagogue was still without electricity, requiring hundreds of West Orange residents to vote elsewhere.

Inside the hotel lobby, some of them shared their presidential preferences with NJ Jewish News.

“I voted for Obama, although it took me almost to the last minute to make that decision,” said Jeffrey Rudy. “I don't trust Romney on his new-found middle ground. For most of the campaign he played to the far right wing of the Republican Party, and I am beleaguered by the thought that President Obama is not supportive enough of Israel.”

Shortly after she voted, Jill Tekel told NJJN, “I voted for Barack Obama because I am looking down the line to see who is going to be appointed to the Supreme Court and who is going to maintain the legislation we have right now.”

Tekel, active in Hadassah and other Jewish organizations, sought a seat on the West Orange Town Council in 2010. “Israel did not factor into my decision,” she said. “I think Obama is working to maintain the security of Israel.”

To another West Orange voter who asked not to be identified, doubts about Obama’s support of Israel compelled her to vote for Mitt Romney.

“I would have liked [Obama] to have visited Israel and I would have liked him to make Prime Minster Netanyahu welcome when he came to the United States,” she said. “I think he made a statement by not doing those things. It wasn’t an easy choice. I considered women’s issues and the Supreme Court, and I wasn’t crazy about Romney. But when I considered everything, I voted for him anyway.”

One town away in Livingston, David Dranikoff voted for Romney, too.

“And I made my decision just five minutes before I voted,” said Dranikoff, who was on the` ballot as an independent candidate for United States senator.

Dranikoff said the president “was not competent to run the country. If you can’t get Congress to work with you, then lead by example to make Washington more efficient. He didn’t do that because he did not know how.”

A totally unscientific survey of` residents at the the Lester Senior Housing Community in Whippany found a strong bloc of support for the president.

“I voted for Obama, said Bea Freiheither. “I think he might be more apt to help the people.”

Pearl Blumberg said, “I feel Obama inherited a bum rap and he has to prove himself in the next four years. Romney shoots his mouth off and I don’t know whether he will come through for me, because I need Social Security and Medicare.”

Mildred Feldstein said she voted for Obama because “I’m a Democrat, and I feel they are for the people. The Republicans want to take all our rights away from us.”

Lester resident Lottie Mandel said, “I feel if Obama gets another four years, hopefully we will be able to have very little unemployment and things will get better,.

“If a new president comes in we will have to start all over again.

There was a steady flow of voters into Congregation Ohav Emeth in Highland Park, which was serving both as a polling site and a warming center for those in the borough still without electricity.` Nevertheless, a poll worker said the turnout was nowhere near what it was four years` ago, when the line stretched down the block in both directions on Raritan Avenue when the doors opened at 6 a.m.

Susan Haller said she“ cast her vote for Mitt Romney because “I think he will be better for Israel than Obama. At least that’s what I’m hoping.”

Karen Swaine disagreed. “I voted for Barack Obama because I am a radical, a progressive. I’m a feminist, a humanist. I’m compassionate. I am a person with brains who thinks Mitt Romney is a liar.` Everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie. “

Swaine said although “thwarted” by“ Congress` in trying to get his agenda passed, Obama “did get things done and Obamacare is a lot better than anything we had before.”


NJJN Middlesex bureau chief Debra Rubin contributed to this story.

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