The shape of things to come

Young Jewish People of today are very different to past generations. In general they are much more likely to be attending or have attended a Jewish school, more likely to be either more secular or more strictly Orthodox, more likely to be going to university and yet with fewer clear prospects after university. They are better connected and maintain stronger contact through social media while being less social.

While all previous generations saw their identity set as teenagers, this generation of millennials often don’t form their identity until well into their 20s. Many go home after university and drift through their 20s taking on few responsibilities, not able to afford their own property. And yet they can be creative, innovative, caring, thought leaders, mensches and their stories can amaze us.  As we read in the Talmud Berachot 64a: “Do not read your children [banayich], but your builders [bonayich].”

So with this in mind, I am delighted Jewish News has decided to create two new lists of our young people. The first list will be of 30 people under 30 who are impacting on the Jewish community.  But how will we measure impact?

Formative impact – Those who already have emerged into leadership positions in existing organisations or taken leadership positions in the community in youth, student and young adult organisations.  Are they the future foundation stones or leading donors and fundraisers of our community?

Transformative impact – Those who are creating new aspects of our community, whether they be the pied pipers, the change agents, the signposts or the innovators.

Depth impact – Increasing the content of our community and its offerings through intellectual and structural development including communal builders, gurus, scribes, thinkers, mavens and maybe prophets.

Width impact – Widening communal impact reflects on how our community changes and develops and this can be through ambassadors, celebrities, outreach and even rebels.

This list will be ranked and will build on the excitement created in the Twenty-Five Under 25 list of two years ago. It will be a new challenge as it may be less campus and youth movement focused as it covers the whole of the 20s. How does one measure a star who is working for the community for a year against another who has been making a constant contribution throughout their 20s?

The panel will certainly be made to consider very different stories. All we need now are your nominations of anyone who will be under 30 on Monday 10 April (the first day of Pesach).

The second list will be of 18 people under 18 who are so incredible that we have to tell their story. When we ran Twenty-Five Under 25, we had exciting nominations for those who were under 18. As we want to include all those at school, we are counting as eligible anyone who was under 18 on 1 September 2016.

Three of them made that list: Zoom Rockman, then a 14-year-old cartoonist; Noah Rubin, then the 14-year-old founder of Step Up collecting; and Zak Wagman, then a 16-year-old member of the British Youth Parliament.

We think there may well be many other inspirational teenagers out there and we hope you will nominate them and tell their story.  The list of the 18 under 18 will be alphabetical and not ranked.

I am also honoured to accept Jewish News’ invitation to chair the panel. The newspaper has brought together a panel with great expertise in the community to assess your nominations.

I also wanted to thank the Jewish Leadership Council for again stepping up to be a sponsor and for the work it does in this sector through LEAD (leadership development in the community), PAJES (supporting Jewish schools) and Reshet (support the Jewish Youth Service with UJIA).

We look forward to some great stories
of young people doing great things that will make us all feel good about the future prospects of our community.

Andrew Gilbert is the chair, eighteen Under 18 & thirty Under 30

About the Author
Andrew Gilbert is a London Jewish Forum Trustee