The calls for the United Jewish Communities to integrate more young voices into their General Assembly have begun, with my article in the Forward and Esther Kustanowitz’s article in the Jewish Week. As both of us note in our articles, the GA should be the place for Jewish communal officials to pick the brains of young Jewish activists who are living and breathing the Jewish future today, in the, ahm, present tense.
As I write for the Forward,
Without understanding the needs and views of young Jews, how can the organized Jewish community plan for the future? If UJC truly seeks to make the G.A. an opportunity for communal conversation and reflection, it should make sure that our voices are front and center. If the organized Jewish community seeks to ensure its continuity, it needs to develop avenues for new leaders to help navigate the Jewish people through the next stage in our history. As Yeshiva University’s president, Richard Joel, said in a panel discussion titled “The Jewish Future” — a dialogue that, for all its brilliance, sorely begged for a young voice — in order to develop young leaders, you need to first let them in.
That young leaders were not let in is yet another missed opportunity for the Jewish community–and the excuse that the GA’s schedule was remade due to the war is, well, BS: the majority of the people who did the fighting, dying and volunteering were youth just like ourselves. If the GA was to reflect the war, each and every panel would have young soldiers, reservists and volunteers speaking about their experiences–as they do in Issue One of PresenTense Magazine, which was also remade in August in light of the war. That outgoing president and CEO of the UJC Howard Rieger did not follow up his promise last year is unfortunate. I hope the new president and CEO, Joe Kanfer, will do the right thing and provide members of the organized Jewish community with the opportunity to hear young voices next year.