You’ll be dazzled by the dynamism of our youth

I often hear from current heads of communal organisations about their concerns on where the next generation of Jewish leaders might be found.

Well, reading the Jewish News projects Eighteen Under 18 and Thirty Under 30, which we at the Jewish Leadership Council have been proud to support, should give us all confidence there are a large number of bright, young, talented and engaged leaders making their mark on our community.

You will first see the leaders identified in the Eighteen Under 18 category. Nobody should be surprised at the depth of talent that we have identified there.

Those of us who are alumni of peer-led youth organisations like BBYO will know how much we were able to achieve in our teenage years. As a chapter president and national executive member of BBYO, I was chairing meetings, organising conventions, handling finances and speaking publicly.

These skills I developed have sustained me throughout my career. In my business life, my employers were spending thousands of pounds on professional trainers to provide my colleagues with things I had developed and learned how to do for free in my youth movement.

The 18s list is full of young people using their initiative, enthusiasm and passion for the benefit of the community.

They are working in established organisations, in innovative programmes, in schools, shuls and youth movements. Their stories provide a breath of fresh air. They have instilled in me an excitement about what they might achieve.

It will be fascinating to follow their careers and see if they indeed fulfil the huge future leadership potential that the judges identified. You will enjoy meeting them and hearing of their achievements.

There are a number of interesting stories to watch out for as Jewish News counts down the Thirty Under 30. I was a judge on the Twenty-Five Under 25 project two years ago and it will be interesting to see who from that list is still making a mark on the community and how. The advantage of Jewish News running these programmes periodically is that it allows us to see the development of our brightest young leaders and the impact they are making.

There are a number of leaders who are new to the list who have burst into the community over the past couple of years and made their presence felt.

This shows the dynamism of our youth  and demonstrates there is still a willingness on the part of bright and talented young people to put their skills at the disposal of the community. It counters the gloomy predictions I have been hearing that there are insufficient leaders coming through.

What this list tells us is that the challenge to our communal organisations is how to take advantage of this talent and keep them involved. It would be criminal if any of these leaders were not able to be involved because there was no room for them in communal organisations. It should provide an incentive to us all to look at how we can refresh our leadership structures to ensure that the brightest talent is always welcome.

What will be clear over the coming weeks is that the future of our community leadership is bright.

About the Author
Simon Johnson is Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council.
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