For Estelle Gilbert, voting on Nov. 7 meant voicing her opinion on one particular issue: the war in Iraq.
"Get the war over in Iraq," said Gilbert after voting at the Congregations of Shaare Shamayim in Northeast Philadelphia. "Bring the boys home!"
The issues were not so cut-and-dried for some other voters in the the 58th Ward, 13th Division.
For Carole Feldman — a social worker and the wife of Shaare Shamayim rabbi emeritus Arnold H. Feldman — Israel remained one of her top priorities. She made sure to vote for the incumbent, Sen. Rick Santorum.
"He's pro-Israel," said Feldman, who noted that she voted "mostly democratic" the rest of the way.
Although a small army of people campaigning for State Representative George Kenney lined the steps leading into the synagogue, Susan Lieber was not swayed in her support for Democratic challenger Brendan F. Boyle.
"Kenny still hasn't returned the pay raise," said the retired teacher, who also noted the need for education reform as a reason she voted for Democrats.
" 'No Child Left Behind' is a disaster," proclaimed Lieber, "and intelligent design has no place in the classroom."
Boyle spent more than an hour inside the synagogue trying to sway voters his way. And Raj Peter Bhakta, a Republican who's running for U.S. representative, also stopped by to shake hands with voters and supporters outside.
Ann Ruskin was proud to say she voted for Gov. Ed Rendell, a man she calls "fiscally responsible." In fact, she voted only for Democratic candidates in the hopes that they will change the course in Iraq and support education reform.
"I'm very concerned about education and jobs in Pennsylvania," she said. Democrats are "more apt to spend on social issues."
Helen Fenster also voted primarily for Democrats, citing that the party has a better record of supporting stem-cell research.
"In the future," she remarked, "you never know what it can do. It might ease a lot of suffering."
The 77-year-old said that she believed both parties strongly support Israel, and that it's "time for a change" in Iraq. Though she is pro-choice, Fenster voted for Bob Casey Jr. in his campaign for the U.S. Senate, even though the candidate is pro-life.
"I'm not sure if he's any better [than his opponent Rick Santorum]," she stated, "but he's the lesser of two evils."