Jewish leadership – the next generation

The greatest challenge of the Jewish world these days is ensuring youth’s sense of belonging.

Youth wave Israeli flags outside the WZO 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Youth wave Israeli flags outside the WZO 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
All Jews are responsible for one another” is not an empty expression, but contains the essence of the Jewish people.
The Jewish world as a whole is facing many challenges these days, the greatest of which is ensuring youths’ sense of belonging to their people, as well as a sense of mutual commitment between Israel’s future leaders and the Jewish world’s future leaders.
Last year I attended Camp Rising Sun, a special international leadership program.
There, I met 60 representatives from many countries, nations and cultures. Getting to know non-Israeli Jews for the very first time in my life was a special and enlightening experience.
That was the first time I realized that there is an alarming distancing between the Jewish world and the State of Israel. Unless we act soon, within a few decades we will notice a negative trend in the Jewish world’s attitude toward the State of Israel and Jewish communities.
In Israel, we have been witnessing a worrying trend as well; the attitude of Israeli youth to the larger Jewish world. Israel’s youth by and large lack the understanding that the Jewish state is part of something bigger. Unfortunately, The Israeli educational system understands the importance of teaching Jewish history, but not of teaching about the Jewish present.
The future of the Jewish people is no less important than our past. It is not enough to learn about its history.
By teaching about the present, we will ensure the next Israeli generation will be a partner in shaping the future of the Jewish people, not just by shaping the Israeli future, which affects the Jewish one, but with an understanding of it is part of the Jewish world.
“An Israeli leader has three leadership roles, which partially overlap each other but are also different: An Israeli leader is a Jewish Zionist leader in Israel for all its residents; a leader of the Jewish people in Zion; and a leader of the Jewish people as a whole including the Diaspora,” writes Prof. Yehezkel Dror, the founding president of the Jewish People Policy Institute in his Hebrew-language book Be A Leader For Us (2011).
By teaching Israel’s youth about the Jewish world as it is today, we will ensure the next generation of Israeli leadership takes the third role upon itself, as well.
The Jewish Diaspora must also ask what can be done to preserve its willingness to work for the greater Jewish future.
To this end, I advocate the creation of a Jewish Parliament which will symbolize the cooperation between all parts of the Jewish world, including the State of Israel.
The Jewish Parliament will serve as a focus for dialogue and discussion, a place where all representatives will be able to express their views and opinions.
Until the establishment of such parliament, it’s our obligation to create a platform for Jewish youth to discuss important subjects and expand their knowledge about the Jewish world by speaking with and getting to know representatives from many places. Such a project can be developed via the Internet, the most natural forum for today’s youth.
I see an active, organized Jewish world body which allows the youth to take an active part in shaping their future. Making a better tomorrow for our children does not mean only creating one, but also putting in place a platform for action after the reins are passed on. It is our responsibility to let future generations complete what we began.
The author is a 16-year-old Israeli youth representative.