Rabbi Kenneth Brander on Today’s Youth’s Views on Individuality, Community and the Future of Jewish Leadership
Rabbi Kenneth Brander is the David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future. The CJF will be convening leaders of the Jewish community from July 29 to Aug. 1 for the Fifth ChampionsGate National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla.
It comes as no surprise that in a world where many neglect the importance of community, iPhones, iPods, iMacs and iPads constantly and consistently appear as the trendiest gadgets. These devices represent a culture that desires to deconstruct the power and purpose of community, placing all importance on the needs of the individual.
Despite this societal disposition, I believe the young people of this generation possess an ever-increasing eagerness to live lives of meaning. With all the serious setbacks brought on by our new economic realities, the “Gen-Y” generation has still had the opportunity to amass so much material stuff and travel with unprecedented frequency.
Yet, they still feel hungry to live meaningful lives. Indeed, as just one example, the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future sends close to a thousand young adults on various service-learning experiences across the globe annually and cannot keep up with the demand on the part of even more students to participate. Organizations around the country that work with young adults have seen a similar phenomenon and are working in partnership to create structures enabling all of us to respond to this yearning.