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:

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!

Can Synagogues Revitalize American Democracy?

“Since childhood, I’ve idealized American democracy. One of my earliest school memories is of learning how to put my hand over my heart for the Pledge of Allegiance. On my fifth-grade trip from Miami to Washington, DC (by Amtrak!), the Lincoln Memorial felt like a temple, the Gettysburg Address looked like the words on the ark of my synagogue back home, and Arlington cemetery seemed the holiest of grounds. I remember standing up in my living room during the first Gulf War when Whitney Houston sang the national anthem. After college I applied seriously for only one job: a paralegal position at the United States Department of Justice. Every day, as I left my office, I’d look down Pennsylvania Avenue and gaze for a few moments at the Capitol.”

Rabbi Michael G. Holzman is the spiritual leader of Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation and creator of the Rebuilding Democracy Project. He was a 2020-2021 Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America.

Click here to read more.

Democracy, Diversity, and Dialogue: Faith Leaders Chart the Path Forward

Join Rabbi Holzman and the Aspen Institute on July 14, 2021 at 1:00pm for a webinar called: “Democracy, Diversity, and Dialogue: Faith Leaders Chart the Path Forward.” This webinar is the launch event for The Rebuilding Democracy Project: A Case Study in Polarization, Faith, and The Common Good,” a study about our Rebuilding Democracy Project published by the Aspen Institute’s Inclusive America Project.

In our current era of deep divisions, many Americans have retreated from civic life or have responded to social conflict with calls for civility. But abstaining from civic life only cedes our public dialogue to the most polarizing voices. And too often, “civility” is misunderstood as the mere absence of argument, or politely ignoring our differences. Neither will make change for the better.

The key to addressing division and building pluralism in American life today isn’t to paper over divides. Rather, it’s to engage more constructively across differences. This is pluralism, or an understanding and respect for our differences, coupled with a mutual commitment toward to the common good.

Faith institutions and communities are one of the few places where people of varying ages and worldviews gather and exchange ideas in a localized manner. Many faith traditions hold sacred tenets about the importance of loving and engaging with those with whom we differ. They offer, therefore, a unique opportunity to strengthen dialogue, diversity, and democracy.

Join us for a discussion exploring the role and opportunity of faith communities during our current, polarized times with a diverse group of faith leaders:

• Billy Honor (moderator), Aspen Institute Inclusive America Project Fellow for Racial Justice and Religion
• Rabbi Michael Holzman, Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation and lead author of The Rebuilding Democracy Project
• Reverend Zina Jacque, Ph.D., Community Church of Barrington, Illinois

Click here to register.