Rabbi Sam Englender is the new Michigan regional outreach manager at the D.C.-based One America Movement, a national nonprofit confronting toxic polarization in our society.
After a year of isolation, many people are feeling more alone than ever. What can we do to reunite our communities in the aftermath of this pandemic and the toxicity and political division that accompanied it? This is the question Rabbi Sam Englender is working to answer.
Englender, who most recently was the community relations manager for the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC, is the new Michigan regional outreach manager at the D.C.-based One America Movement, a national nonprofit confronting toxic polarization in our society.
The organization equips faith communities to confront division and work together across political, racial and religious divides to solve problems that matter.
“Michigan is a purple state — purple used to mean moderate, but now, it more and more means that we are polarized to the extreme,” Englender said.
“Political sides are facing off and that means trouble, not just for Michigan as a whole, but for the communities and congregations trying to navigate these challenging times.
“We know the Jewish community isn’t immune from the political division that has roiled the country,” Englender said.
“It’s incumbent on us to do what we can to heal our own community.”
He said the good news is that more and more of us are realizing there is another way. “We can come together to heal our divides, to work with people with whom we share much more than we realize to solve the problems that matter to all of us,” he said.
Englender will take the lead here in Michigan, working to bring training, resources and support to help the Michigan Jewish community and other faith communities to counter the effects of harmful political polarization.
This month, Englender and the One America Movement are opening applications for the inaugural class of campus fellows in their Leadership Incubator, a program designed to support young leaders in their efforts to heal divides on college and university campuses in Michigan. Applications will be accepted throughout April.
“We know we can equip young Jews in our community with the tools necessary to create change,” Englender said.