Facing Tomorrow: The Jewish Sphere

One of the three Tomorrow’s discussed during this year’s Israeli Presidential Conference was of the Jewish People in Israel and in the Diaspora. Within that frame, it was decided to emphasize the issue of the next generation via the topics of leadership, Israel-Diaspora Jewry relations, and more. This theme was faced with a number of questions such as what challenges will world Jewry face tomorrow? How will the relationship between the Jewish world and Israel develop? How does the young Jewish generation feel towards Israel and Judaism?

An excerpt from the summation paper, Facing Tomorrow: The Jewish Sphere:

Will the Next Jewish Leader Please Stand Up?

The Jewish people are facing new challenges. Is it possible to recruit the outstanding youth of the Jewish people to leadership positions or are the “rising stars” ducking the burden of being at the helm? What is the profile of a successful Jewish leader and how can we identify and nurture the future leaders of the Jewish people?

One of the main elements of a Jewish leader is to attract and engage young Jews around the world, says Joanna Arbib Perugia. We need to accept that the younger generation thinks, feels, and touches the world on multiple levels and in this sense, everyone can be leader, investing in Israel, whether it be through time or money and then tweeting about it. Recommendations through social media are often more successful than marketing because they constitute a personal connection or trust. She aims, through Keren Hayesod to develop a connection point between Israel and world Jewry.

Carolyn Bogush says that in order to encourage the creation of a new generation of leadership, we need to create space for others to lead, to take risks by giving opportunities for younger people to lead, to get rid of socio-economic barriers and to allow for acts of leadership without title or authority.

Justin Korda suggests that nourishing existing young leaders requires the creation of opportunities, such as the Conference, for people from different disciplines to gather together and expose them to different ideas; listening to young people is needed instead of deciding their needs for them; and finally, accepting the possibility of failures and learning from them.

According to Prof. Arna Poupko Fisher the Jewish community needs to calm down regarding leadership of younger generation. We don’t have to force them into existing organizations but allow for their creativity to lead them.

Rabbi Daniel Smokler’s main point derives from his belief in the importance of the communal lifestyle the Jewish world once led, and currently is mainly associated with Orthodox communities. His thesis says, that today “the best and the brightest [young Jews] are in fact not taking up positions of Jewish communal leadership.” Smokler analyses the Jewish world today and says that there are two approaches – normative, which is collective oriented and sees Jewish life is primarily social and communal; aesthetic, which is meaning based and individualistic. He argues that the minority follows the normative approach, and in order to have more young non-Orthodox Jews engage in Jewish leadership, their approach must change, and change begins in Jewish education.

The complete summation paper, Facing Tomorrow: The Jewish Sphere, can be found here.