Op-Ed: It’s Time To Stop Lecturing And Start Listening To Young Jews

Inside Leadership

Op-Ed: It’s Time To Stop Lecturing And Start Listening To Young Jews

Group of teens lighting Shabbat candles

When I travel, I hear many people my age ask, “Why don’t our young people join synagogues? Or give to their federations? Why don’t they stand up for Israel? Why don’t they go to Hillel?”

In short, they’re asking, why can’t they be more like us?

Indeed, the war between the boomers and the millennials has become popular fodder. But, I don’t see it as a war at all.

The job of the next generation is not to be just like us. And we in Jewish leadership would be wise to stop struggling to only fit them into old constructs within our Jewish community; rather, we must equally embrace their desire to be active and seek to encourage and empower them as leaders in shaping a Judaism that is relevant to them.

The young people in our communities are the most diverse, inclusive, connected, and educated generation ever. The polls tell us that a commitment to social justice is a particularly significant part of their Jewish expression.

And they proudly and confidently carry their commitments to justice as a reflection of their Judaism wherever they go — including Israel. In fact, Israel is where the generational divide splits most painfully.

Read the rest of this op-ed in The Forward, then join the conversation on our Facebook page. 

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs is the president of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the largest Jewish movement in North America, with almost 850 congregations and nearly 1.5 million members. An innovative thought leader, dynamic visionary, and representative of progressive Judaism, he spent 20 years as the spiritual leader of Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY. Deeply dedicated to global social justice issues, he has led disaster response efforts in Haiti and Darfur. Learn more about Rabbi Rick Jacobs.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

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