As current leaders in the Jewish community, one of our key considerations is not only what the future holds, but who will be a part of that future.
We are always looking to recognize and groom those individuals who are poised to be prospective leaders. Yet, we have to remember that an incredible opportunity exists to start that process much earlier. It is no secret that involvement in Jewish programming by youth increases the likelihood of active participation and leadership as adults. Two great examples include Michelle Silberglied and Josh Schoenberg, who started their participation in the Jewish community in their teen years and continue to be engaged and thoughtful lay leaders for the JCC. Together, they will be co-chairing our largest fundraiser, the 26th Annual Siegel JCC Sports Classic. Engaging youth in programming at the J has long been a challenge. Young people value self-expression, crave change and challenge, and want to effect change and make a lasting impact on the world. They are resilient and self-sufficient, looking for less and less help or support from their community. So, we’re constantly seeking to identify innovative means to engage them in ways that make sense and work for them. We offer Saturday night youth events where the youngest can make connections while having fun, and we create leadership opportunities through work in our afterschool program and Camp to prepare them for the outside world. Simultaneously, we are helping them establish Jewish identity and connecting them to the Jewish community.
Youth are an indispensable part of our society and have the potential to do great things. As such, we can’t help but feel an incredible sense of pride when we think about our own children’s involvement in the Jewish community. Whether it is providing food to low-income individuals for a Mitzvah project, participating in BBYO, or building leadership skills through a Jewish camp, our children are continuing the traditions of Jewish connectedness and service that we so value. One of each of our children will be working at Camp JCC this summer, engaging campers in exciting and meaningful activities that are threaded with Israeli culture and Judaic values.
There is no feeling more rewarding, as leaders, than seeing the development of the next generation. The future of our Jewish community depends on it.
At the J, we will continue to drive youth connection and growth. If you have any ideas, please do not hesitate to reach out to us with suggestions.