To the editor: As a rabbi and a Jew, I urge you to vote yes on Ballot Question 4 on Tuesday.
A yes vote upholds Massachusetts state law, the Work and Family Mobility Act, enabling all qualified Massachusetts residents, regardless of immigration status, to apply for a standard driver’s license. This law, and your yes vote in support of Question 4, is moral, ethical and safe for our community.
I am committed to the biblical value of welcoming the stranger. This teaching appears at least 36 times in the Hebrew Bible. We learn: "You shall not wrong nor oppress the stranger, for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt" (Exodus 22:20). Welcoming immigrants and refugees is core to my faith today.
Although undocumented residents of the Berkshires and the commonwealth of Massachusetts are not strangers, these teachings inspire the way we welcome everyone into our cities and towns. These same values inspired local communities, including my synagogue, Temple Anshe Amunim, to support the resettlement of refugee families in our county.
Our own Jewish legacy as immigrants to the United States, including the immigrants that founded Temple Anshe Amunim more than 150 years ago, connects us with the legal, social and economic challenges faced by immigrants today. A yes vote on Question 4 is also endorsed by the Religious Action Center of Massachusetts, a collection of more than 30 synagogues throughout Massachusetts working toward a world of justice and wholeness.
For these reasons, I support a yes vote on Question 4, ensuring that all drivers in Massachusetts are tested, licensed and insured, making roads safer for everyone.
Yes on 4 enables families and workers to drive to appointments or work and get children to school. In the Berkshires, public transportation often falls short or places undue burden on those looking to complete essential tasks.
Voting yes on 4 offers Massachusetts the increased safety and revenue that other states with these types of laws have seen, including fewer hit-and-run incidents and an additional $5 million dollars from fees and taxes associated with inspections and services.
On Tuesday, I will proudly cast my ballot voting yes on 4. A yes vote does not change current voting safeguards. Only U.S. citizens 18 and over can vote, and the law that would be upheld by Question 4 doesn’t change this. Plain and simple, this is about safer roads, sacred values, and common sense.
Liz P.G. Hirsch, Pittsfield
The writer is the rabbi of Temple Anshe Amunim in Pittsfield.