A Federation professional asks, “… who is really doing anything about developing leaders, and what if anything, will the impact be on the future of Jewish lay leadership?”
… There are plenty other regional and national organizations working to engage young Jews at different ages and stages. Overall, though, NEXT is doing the most comprehensive job of strategically engaging young Jewish adults. Only time will tell if this engagement, while fostering and strengthening young Jews’ connection to Israel, will eventually lead to BRI alumni involvement in traditional Jewish institutions.
What does this mean for existing Jewish organizations seeking to engage young adults? Traditional groups would be well advised to provide young adults the opportunity to express their creativity, developing programs using their own energy and vision. Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), the Jewish Federation of Boston, understands this approach, funding the Boston Social Entrepreneur Fellowship, in conjunction with PresenTense. By providing skill-building and mentoring in the context of building a communal vision, everyone’s goals are met. The young entrepreneurs accomplish great things while developing leadership skills, and the institutions which make it possible build life-long relationships, resulting in the creation of future leaders.
… Long term, which programs will yield the most significant results? It’s too soon to say. We know that in working with young adults if we let them build it they will come. What we don’t know yet is how long what they build will last.