The Next Generation's Culture
This week, I attended a conference sponsored by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture on young adults, culture, and Jewish engagement. The conference was based on their study Cultural Events and Jewish Identities on the social and cultural fusion of young unaffiliated Jews ages 25-35 in New York City.
As a young engaged Jew who falls on the fringe of the young adults defined by the study (I’m only 23), I was intrigued to find out more about the report.
Strangely, I thought, for a conference focused on young people, more than the first half of the day was spent listening to the voices of the older generation. They all agreed that being a young Jew is more about “do it your own way” than “do it like everyone else.” Young Jews are not drawn to traditional programs sponsored by the OJC (Organized Jewish Community) because they see them as bland, conformist, and conservative. Instead, young Jews seek out cultural events that cross boundaries and are ironic and playful.
Finally, the last panel featured the people I wanted to hear from—the young Jewish leaders in their 20s who managed to engage young unaffiliated Jews through the internet, film, and music: “Mobius,” the creator of the Jewschool blog ; Ronit, a documentary filmmaker who started Just Vision and director of a new documentary about Israeli and Palestinian peace makers; and Aaron, the founder of Jdub Records. They embodied the heart and soul of the conference. I admire the way in which they expressed their creativity in unique venues, taking traditional cultural roots and making them modern. Moreover, their ideas have drawn so many young unaffiliated Jews together that I am inspired by their initiative and only hope that more young Jews will follow in their footsteps.
Unfortunately, the conference attendance did not reflect the age group studied in the report. I would have liked to hear their reactions to the study, but maybe blogs are the place for that conversation to take place – add your voice here!