Including young Jews in old systems
Yesterday, JTA published, "Where the Blogosphere Meets the Boardroom," an op-ed co-authored by Jordan Namerow, a long-time writer for Jewesses with Attitude and my predecessor at the Jewish Women's Archive. This op-ed encourages the Federation to engage with the younger members of the Jewish community, many of whom are unaware of the Federation system. It gives suggestions for ways to bring young Jews into the fold, arguing, "Without including younger voices, Federation risks its own survival."
I will admit that I am one of those 20-something Jews who was, until recently, unaware of UJC and the Federation system. When I first heard someone mention "the Federation," I thought they were talking about Star Wars. (I still have trouble overcoming this association with sci-fi bad guys in long robes.)
But Jordan and her co-authors Joelle Asaro Berman, Joanna Kabat and Jeremy Moskowitz, make an excellent point. The Federation and young Jews need each other to continue to move forward and effect change. But in order for young Jews to connect with Federation organizations, or even be accepted by them, the Federation needs to accept the diversity of the Jewish community.
"We are religious, secular, queer, straight, Israel supporters and Israel critics (often simultaneously); artists, writers, activists and entrepreneurs. We share an understanding that the Jewish communal voice is actually many voices -- a notion Federation seems reluctant to recognize and embrace."
Through archiving, celebrating, and sharing the stories of a wide range of Jewish women, the Jewish Women's Archive creates an inclusive history and highlights the diversity of Jewish community. "Where the Blogosphere Meets the Boardroom" reminds us that the Jewish community is made up of a multitude of groups and perspectives, as well as generations, and that the Federation system has as much to gain from their inclusion as they have to gain from the Federation.