While Daniel was at the GA, I was at another, lesser-known Jewish conference. Kivun, a project of the Center for Leadership Initiatives with the assistance of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, invited about 30 staff members from Schusterman grantees to network and address the challenges of being a 20-something in Jewish communal life. While the audience listening to us was smaller, we had the ear of a powerful, committed philanthropic force in Judaism.
What struck me in the conversations we had was our difficult status. I believe our problem of the younger generations is not being too narcissistic and self-centered, nor is it being ignored by the greater Jewish community. It is rather being trapped between these two poles. How do we assert ourselves, our visions, our perspectives while at the same time showing respect for the traditions and organizations that laid the framework for our existence?
How do we invest ourselves and our passion in the structure and demands of our bosses when we believe that change will only truly happen when the current leadership “dies out.”
So far the approaches have been either to let the new generation bring their needs to the organized community, like at the GA, or to have the organized community speak down to us.
Though difficult, the solution most likely lies in an equal partnership and exchange of ideas. And whoever can invent the proper forum, can probably proclaim that they’ve discovered the next “big idea” in Judaism.