Queen Esther 2016

The hero of Purim was an advocate for minorities who separated her professional from her personal life.

Editor’s Note: This article is the Runner-up in the first Fresh Ink For Teens Writing Contest. Nearly 30 contestants from around the country answered the following question: “If you could choose a Jewish leader, past or present, to run the United States whom would you vote for and why?” The runner-up receives a $100 Amazon gift card.

An orphan raised by her uncle, she was suddenly chosen to become her nation’s leader. Although she did not want this position, she took advantage of her power and stood up for a minority group facing discrimination. An observant Jew, she managed to keep her religion out of politics and vice versa. This woman Queen Esther, the biblical woman whose miraculous rescue of Persian Jewry we celebrate every year during Purim. If I could choose a Jewish leader to be president of the United States, I would vote for Esther because of her dedication to protecting every individual’s rights and ability to balance private life as a Jew and political life as a secular leader.

Most minority groups living in the United States are disadvantaged in some way; for example, African-American men and women earn only 71 and 70 cents, respectively, to the white man’s dollar. For example, an African-American man and woman earn, respectively, only 71 and 70 cents for every dollar a white man earns. It is imperative that the president stand up for the rights of minority groups and ensure that every American can dedicate his or her talents to better society.

Esther’s track record in this issue is excellent: she stood up for the Jewish people, who were the oppressed minority of Persia, and demanded that King Ahasuerus protect them from Haman’s evil plot (Esther 7:3-6). Esther did this at great risk to her own life, as she approached the king without being summoned, a capital offense. She did not care that Ahasuerus was unlikely to grant her request; she was determined to do everything in her power to help the oppressed Jews. I would definitely vote for someone so dedicated to helping every victim of discrimination. 

A president must also be able to separate his or her private and public lives. Although the personal may be the political, a president whose home life interferes with his/her leadership is a liability to the American people. One such example is Bill Clinton, whose widely-publicized affair with White House employee Monica Lewinsky still haunts America’s image.

Esther did not suffer from Clinton’s inability to separate the private from public. She possessed two complementary identities: the religious Jew and the secular leader. Neither was compromised by the other. Both existed and thrived independently. A devout Jew, she kept halacha stringently when she lived in the palace; a savvy politician, she wrote the law that reversed Haman’s decree to kill the Jews. Esther’s expertise at balancing her dual identity as a lay leader and observant Jew, her capability of keeping the personal and political separate, would certainly garner my vote.

The name Esther means hidden. The biblical queen’s actions truly lived up to her name. She saved the Jews, an underrepresented —almost hidden — minority group from destruction and discrimination. She also managed to keep her private life as a Jew hidden from the face of the public. I will vote for the first time in the next presidential election, and I wish that Queen Esther’s name could be on the ballot. She would definitely get my vote.
 

author's bio: 
  Talia Weisberg is a senior at Manhattan High School for Girls. 

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