Aaron Kalman
Working for Israel and the Jewish People

We are the generation now

“We are the now generation,
We are the generation now.
This is the now generation,
This is the generation now”

In a short and concise verse in their 2009 song “Now Generation,” the Black Eyed Peas managed to capture the presumed essence of my generation, the now generation of no-patience-immediate-gratification. The successful American hip-hop group drove their point home in the rest of the song.

And while the band thinks “I want money/I want it want it want it,” they seem to miss that many of my generation are already the people that will, in the near future, be leading the world, and though they “want it,” it’s not a bad thing.

Some of my friends are already starting to leave the nest, and are — slowly but surely — finding themselves in positions that will influence tomorrow’s Israel and Jewish world.

To me this is a strange, and scary reality. It’s one that makes me realize we’ve grown up

The ‘Peas got it right when they wrote “Myspace is your space/Facebook is a new place/Dip divin’ socializin’/I’ll be out in cyber space.” The question is what people are doing out in the (still-new) online world.

Even though some people identify with the likes of “I just can’t wait/I need it immediately… I sure can’t wait/I ain’t got no patience,” and others feel like they “Want money/I want hard cold cash,” there are many people who have made the transition from this being “the now generation” to it being “the generation now”.

Friends of mine are involved politically, acting as spokespeople and parliamentary advisers to members of the Knesset both left and right, volunteering with organizations around the spectrum or editing blogs and other new-media resources.

To me it still sounds weird, saying that people of my generation — and not of my parents’ — have started shaping the way Israel and the Jewish world will look in the not-so-far future.

When looking at the news, both the conventional news on television and the social media news-feeds of Facebook and Twitter, it’s easy to point at multiple issues on the public agenda, topics tearing at the hearts and souls of people.

Public discourse in Israel in recent weeks covered many sensitive and important topics. The long list includes treatment of the gay community; questioning how to deal with African refugees/migrants in Israel; the possibility of a draft that would force ultra-Orthodox (and Arab) men into the IDF; the always present Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recognition of non-Orthodox Judaism in the Jewish state.

We are those who will be calling the shots soon

Sensitive issues have always been — and should always be — addressed by politicians and civil servants, the are the current policy maker. But I noticed that more and more demonstrations and protests about such matters were filled with my friends and peers. We are those who will be calling the shots soon.

“Google is my professor/Wikipedia checker,” the song continues, making it sound as though we live online, have little research skills and are generally just not up to the “real” world. But this blog, like other new-media and online resources, is part of today’s world

I watched demonstrations against demolitions of settlements and recognized people, almost at the same time that I saw Facebook feeds of those preparing to protest the demolition of a Palestinian home. The protests against the living costs were led by university students. Old classmates, people who served with me in the army, friends from various programs — we are the generation now.

Students lead a demonstration outside the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Students lead a demonstration outside the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

To me this is a strange, and sometimes scary, reality. It’s one that makes me realize we’ve grown up. We’re no longer teenagers. At some point or another, in the army or at college, when signing our lease for an apartment or casting our vote in the national elections, we became those who have to carry the country on our backs.

We are not all in the same place. Some are at school, some are working, others are getting used to being newlyweds. A number have already found their path in life and are pursuing their dreams as fast and as hard as they can. The rest are examining options for the near future.

Although frightening at times — especially when I try and imagine my friends (and myself) a couple of decades from now — this is the most natural path for life to take.  It’s also our opportunity to succeed in life, to shine and excel.

We will be writers, bankers, dance instructors, rabbis, politicians, social entrepreneurs, teachers, policemen, educators, IDF officers, handy-men, yeshiva students and much more.

It’s only a matter of time before someone I know is recognized as a leader in his/her country, municipality or Jewish community.

“This is the generation now.”

About the Author
Aaron Kalman is a Program Officer at the Ruderman Family Foundation, working to strengthen the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community. Formerly an advisor to Israel's Minister of Diaspora Affairs and a Jewish Agency emissary to Sydney, Australia, Aaron has an M.A. in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and a B.Ed. from Herzog College.