Challenged by Rabbi Holzman in his 5779 Kol Nidre sermon, NVHC is embarking on a variety of projects that seek to help us rebuild our democracy, from creating a space for open and honest conversation, to inviting engaging and relevant speakers, to action. We do this in covenant with one another – by asking questions, by sharing viewpoints, and by saying “shamati” – I have heard you. We will do this both as individuals and as a community. Together, as a Jewish community, we work to demonstrate that we can begin to overcome the polarization that has taken hold of our country.
Scroll down to view the latest events in our Rebuilding Democracy Project.
Click the links below to read articles about the Project:
- Can Synagogues Revitalize American Democracy?
- These High Holy Days, preach democracy please
- Clerics For Democracy!
- 20 Years After 9/11: The Power of Tiny Acts To Create a Moral Universe
- How Synagogues Can Combat the Toxic Polarization Threatening American Democracy
- How are Jews celebrating Juneteenth?
- We Need Sanctuaries For Politics, not From Politics
- Juneteenth all-nighter in NoVa explores racism
- The COVID Interfaith Call. Published by The Aspen Institute, this article by Rabbi Holzman explores the need for interfaith relationships and leadership at this moment. The article was followed by a moderated webinar conversation between Rabbi Holzman and Pastor Bob Roberts of NorthWood Church.
- NVHC Awarded Lippmann Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom
- Interfaith Exchange is on the Menu
- Studying the Declaration of Independence like it’s the Torah: One synagogue applies old methods to reflect on modern divisiveness
- Addressing Guns by Moving Morality
- How Faith Makes us Purple
The Rebuilding Democracy Project was awarded the Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom in March, 2019. Click the image above to learn more about our application and the prize!
A Case Study in Polarization, Faith and the Common Good
In 2021 Members of the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation (NVHC) in Reston, VA, led by Rabbi Michael G.Holzman, partnered with the Aspen Institute to develop a case study based on The Rebuilding Democracy Project. The purpose was to bring specific, meaningful aspects of their religious traditions to bear on the polarizing and emotional conversations of American political life. The case study created includes the strategies they use in their programs, along with actionable methods readers can apply to their own communities. At the end of each program description, congregants offer testimony to how the programs have affected them personally; a powerful and important witness to the effectiveness of the approach.
NVHC applied these traditions of debate and scriptural analysis to their Project. The Project was designed to help them navigate community decisions and intergenerational misunderstandings, and even to grapple with systemic racism. Developed piecemeal over the last five years, some of the Project’s programs were developed to address a particular situation, while others take the form of informal conversations focused simply on relationship-building.
Although NVHC grounds its work in Jewish prayer, Torah study, and Jewish liturgical traditions, their methods can be adapted to many other faith traditions, communities, and situations. These programs are not intended to win one faction over to the other. Rather, they serve to strengthen and deepen relationships and community ties.
Teaching what is “politics”
Taking democratic action
Teaching and Learning
Connecting Jewish wisdom to democracy’s fundamentals
Addressing bewilderment with Jewish experience in the wilderness
Elevating cynicism and despair as spiritual issues
Putting chesed above party
Hearing ideas fully (shamati)
Experiencing viewpoint diversity (eilu v’eilu)
Great Texts of America
Experiencing diversity in community (kehillah)
Sanctifying the process with blessing
Teaching mahloket l’shem shamayim
Using parshanut to address complex narratives
Connecting personal aspiration to the text through midrashic process
October 2020-May 2022: One America Movement Reston-Ashburn chapter forms between NVHC and Kings Cross Church.
November 2021-May 2022: Begin design of Citizen’s commentary project
June 18th: 3rd annual Juneteenth Tikkun
June 19, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance: President Lyndon B. Johnson’s speech to Congress on Voting Rights
June 18, 7:00pm: Tikkun Leil Juneteenth
June 17, 7:00pm: Congregational Conversation: How We Talk About Israel & Palestine
June 12, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
May 22, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance: Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn’s eulogy “The Highest and Purest Democracy”
April 24, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance: John Dewey’s “The Ethics of Democracy”
March 20, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance: the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
February 27, 9:00am: Book Study with Rabbi Holzman – “God and Politics in Esther,” by Yoram Hazony
December 26, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance: Eleanor Roosevelt’s “The Struggle for Human Rights”
December 10, 7:00pm: Distinguished Speaker Series: Roy Austin – “Race and Policing – Moving Forward”
November 27, 7:00pm: Erev Shabbat Service: The Pulpit and the Pew – “Capitalism and Democracy, Jacob and Esau”
November 21, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance: George Washington’s Farewell Address
November 18, 7:00pm: Distinguished Speaker Series: Bill Schneider – “The Election – What It Means.”
October 31, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance: John F Kennedy’s “Faith Speech”
October 16, 7:00pm: Erev Shabbat Service – The Pulpit and the Pew: “Making Change Happen: From Inside or Outside of the Garden”
August 13, 8:00pm: Summer Book Study: The Moynihan Report
July 21, 8:00pm: Summer Book Study Part II: White Fragility
July 18, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance – Dwight Eisenhower’s “Speech on the Role of Religion in American Democracy”
June 30, 8:00pm: Summer Book Study Part I: White Fragility
June 18-19: Juneteenth Tikkun
June 6, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance – Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet”
June 4, 8:00pm: Lifelong Learning: Standing with Jews of Color
June 2, 7:30pm: Lifelong Learning: Rebooting NVHC’s Conversation about Race in Virginia and America
May 16, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance Online – “Herbert Hoover’s 1928 speech on ‘Rugged Individualism'”
May 12, 7:30pm: Congregational Conversation Continued: How Our Country Responds to This Pandemic
May 7, 7:30pm: Congregational Conversation: How Our Country Responds to This Pandemic
April 30, 7:30pm: Congregational Conversation: How Our Community Responds
April 18, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance Online – “Franklin Roosevelt’s 1st Inaugural Address: ‘The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself.'”
March 14, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance – “Silent Spring”
February 22, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance – “Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address”
January 11, 9:00am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance – “The Souls of Black Folk”
December 21, 9:00 am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance – “The Port Huron Statement from Students for a Democratic Society”
December 13, 7:00 pm: Erev Shabbat Service – The Pulpit and the Pew – The Concept of Impeachment
November 9, 9:00 am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance – Confronting Hate: “To The Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island”
October 18, 7:00 pm: Erev Shabbat Service – The Pulpit and the Pew
September 14, 9:00 am: Great Texts of America Shabbat Sustenance – “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
September 18, 7:00 pm: Conversations on Race in Our Commonwealth
September 22, 4:30 pm: Clergy United for Racial Empathy Presents: Congregations Working Toward a Cure
August 21, 7:00 pm: Conversations on Race in Our Commonwealth
July 17, 7:00 pm: Conversations on Race in Our Commonwealth
May 4, 9:00 am: Shabbat Sustenance: Great Texts of America – Women’s Roles in the American Narrative
May 19, 3:30 pm: VOICE May Action
Spread the word about the Board of Supervisors election on June 11! Click here to sign up to help increase voter turnout.
April 8, 7:00 pm: Congregational Conversation on College
April 13, 7:00 pm: Shabbat Sustenance: Great Texts of America- Ronald Regan’s “Tear Down This Wall” Speech
March 2, 9:00 am: Great Texts of America: Women’s Roles in the American Narrative
March 19, 8:00 pm: NVHC Designated Speaker Series: Sherrilyn Ifill. Sherrilyn Ifill is the President and Director-Council of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She will speak with us on her work with the LDF and her work analyzing race in American public life.
February 6, 6:30 am: JCRC Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day
February 9, 9:00 am: Shabbat Sustenance: Great Texts of America- Manifest Destiny
February 12, 7:00 pm: Congregational Conversation about Race and Virginia.
February 24, 1:30 pm: Rabbi Dr Andrea Weiss spoke on her project American Values Religious Voices: 100 Days, 100 Letters.
January 18, 7:00 pm: Social Justice/Folk Song Erev Shabbat Service
January 19, 9:00 am: Great Texts of America: Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 20, 9:30 am: Kehilat Limmud Yom Tzedek.
January 22, 7:00 pm: Congregational Conversation: Stewardship of the Earth’s Climate
January 25: NVHC VOICE Presence in Richmond
October 9, 7:00 pm: Congregational Conversation on Mental Health
October 21, 4:00 pm: VOICE 1,200 Person Assembly
November 2, 7:00 pm: Solidarity Shabbat in response to the tragedy in Pittsburgh.
November 3, 9:00 am: Shabbat Sustenance: Great Texts of America, The Declaration of Independence
November 3-6: VOICE non-partisan Get Out the Vote canvassing
November 10, 9:00 am: Weekend of Muslim-Jewish Twinning Shabbat Sustenance
November 13, 7:00 pm: Congregational Conversation on Our Politics
November 19, 7:00 pm: Weekend of Muslim-Jewish Twinning, Rabbi Holzman teaches at the ADAMS Center
December 8, 9:oo am– Great Texts of America: Federalist No. 10
December 11, 8:00 pm: The NVHC Distinguished Speaker Series presents: William Kristol
December 12, 7:30 am: JCRC Lox & Legislators Breakfast