A strong Jewish identity is an invitation to live a vibrant and meaningful life and a call to build a more equitable and just world.
From holidays to rituals, social gatherings to artistic expressions, Jewish life is an expanding tapestry of experiences and ideas that invite young Jews to engage in a rich tradition and deeply-rooted values that resonate today. These values include the pursuit of justice (tzedek), repairing the world (tikkun olam) and ensuring that all people are treated with dignity and respect (derekh eretz).
If young Jews are to discover fulfillment in living a Jewish life, we need to provide diverse experiences that meet young Jews where they are and speak directly to their needs and interests.
One way we see young Jews engaging with Jewish life is through service. They are a central part of a growing movement of young people seeking to make a positive impact on the world. We believe there is an opportunity to make service a defining element of Jewish life and to help young Jews center Jewish values as they work to shape more just and inclusive societies. The goal: a generation of Jews who are motivated to work in partnership to impact local communities, to advocate for equity and justice in the U.S. and to address pressing issues across the globe.
As we consider the full spectrum of 21st-century Jewish engagement, we also need to advance change within our Jewish communities to ensure they reflect our full diversity as a people. Today, an estimated 12-15% of American Jews identify as Jews of color. Yet, Jews of color often experience racism and exclusion in Jewish communities, from undergoing questioning on the authenticity of their Jewish identities to not seeing themselves reflected in communal leadership.
For nearly two decades, we have been investing in shaping Jewish spaces where Jews of all sexual orientations, gender identities, races and ethnicities experience a sense of belonging. Despite the progress we have seen, there is much more work to be done to ensure that Jews who have been historically excluded, such as Jews of color, LGBTQ Jews and women, have seats at our communal table and opportunities for leadership.
Our diversity is our greatest strength. To achieve our greatest potential, Jewish communities must be places where all Jews belong.
We must ensure that every person who identifies as Jewish can bring their full self to Jewish spaces. From lifting up the voices of Jews of color, to providing opportunities for young LGBTQ Jews to create empowering and celebratory spaces, to hiring more women in leadership at Jewish organizations, we can build more vibrant, inclusive and equitable Jewish communities.