I first learned about Zachary Singerman from an opinion piece he wrote in the March 16, 2021, Forward titled “I’m a Jewish teen exhausted by violence, and I can’t keep waiting for adults to fix it.” In the article Zack explained about the organization he started in September 2019:
I founded a non-profit, Gen Z Jews: Fighting Anti-Semitism, because I thought my generation needed to get educated and involved. Through my organization, I have worked to ensure that Gen Z Jews nationwide are educated on the causes of antisemitism and how to respond. I have also interviewed national leaders from congresspeople and rabbis to Olympic athletes on how Gen Z can take a stand.
Of course, after I launched on June 30, 2021, my NEVER AGAIN IS NOW podcast about antisemitism with co-host Evelyn Markus, we interviewed Zack as one of our podcast guests.
Listen to the podcast above as Zack explains why it is so important for Generation Z Jews to work against antisemitism NOW! Zack understands that Generation Z Jews must take responsibility for the world they will inherit when they are adults.
And in my opinion there is an additional component that Generation Z Jews can achieve while working to end antisemitism. That is:
Introducing actual Jews to people who have never knowingly met a Jew before.
Growing up in Elgin, Illinois, where I was always the only Jewish student in my public school classes, I am sure many of the other students did not know they had met a Jew. And then there were my antisemitic encounters my first year at Michigan State University.
During my first year of the MBA program at The Wharton School I told a Catholic team member that I would not be in class the next day because I was Jewish and it was the holiday of Sukkot. She asked if my husband had those earlocks as in Chaim Potok’s novel THE CHOSEN. I explained to her that those payot were worn by very religious Jewish men and that my husband was not one of these. Apparently the characters in that novel were the only Jews she “knew.”
Generation Z Jews can do so much good besides combatting antisemitism. On social media they can demonstrate positive aspects of Jews and Judaism – for example, sharing photos and updates about Jewish holidays as well as Bar and Bat Mitzvah projects.
Generation Z Jews can also share information about Jews and Judaism in personal conversations. I have always felt that it is an opportunity to educate non-Jews (and Jews) on any aspect of Judaism about which they ask.
Once I was with an Orthodox Jewish woman novelist. A fan asked her didn’t Orthodox Jewish women cover their hair. The novelist replied that some Orthodox women do and some don’t. Yet the novelist missed an important educational opportunity. She herself was wearing a beautiful sheitel (wig), and she could have added that she was wearing a wig.
In the coming Jewish new year we can all be inspired by 11th grader Zachary Singerman to work on fighting antisemitism as well as educating non-Jews about Jews and Judaism in general. Sometimes all that is needed is taking an extra minute to explain that you are Jewish and why a comment is offensive to Jews or what the upcoming Jewish holiday means.
(My Jewish holiday book co-authored with Rabbi Karen L. Fox – SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION: A CONTEMPORARY GUIDE TO THE JOYS, PRACTICES, AND TRADITIONS OF THE JEWISH HOLIDAYS — has information on Shabbat and the holidays along with kosher recipes.)
In conclusion, Zack will be expanding the projects of his organization Gen Z Jews, and I hope to work with him on some of these efforts. Those of you who think all teens do not care about the world they will inherit should commend Zack for his efforts – and contact him through his organization’s website at www.genzjews.com if you want to help.