Enjoyed James Traub’s feature about J Street in yesterday’s NY Times Magazine. Great to see them getting such high profile press.
For me, the most fascinating insight in the article came from J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami’s comments on the young ‘uns who work there:
The average age of the dozen or so staff members is about 30. Ben-Ami speaks for, and to, this post-Holocaust generation. “They’re all intermarried,” he says. “They’re all doing Buddhist seders.” They are, he adds, baffled by the notion of “Israel as the place you can always count on when they come to get you.” Living in a world of blogs, they’re similarly skeptical of the premise that “we’re still on too-shaky ground” to permit public disagreement.
I would say that this is my sense of 20-30 something Jews generally. I’m 46 myself, but I’m still old enough to remember the Yom Kippur War, Entebbe and Soviet Jewry rallies. Today’s new generation of Jews, however, has grown up with a decidedly different experience of their Jewish place in the world. For them, the Jewish State doesn’t represent an antidote to Jewish insecurity, nor is it their last bastion of Jewish safety and survival. Most Jewish young people I meet these days are comfortable enough in their post-modern Jewish skin and frankly, they fail understand why questioning traditionally held assumptions about Israel is considered so taboo.
I’ve long felt that unless the organized Jewish community makes an effort to grasp this, we’re going to lose this next generation. (I don’t care how many kids we send on Birthright – I don’t think the Jewish establishment is going to turn this tide around.)
Are you going to the first national J Street Conference on October 25-28? It’s increasingly looking like it’s going to be the place to be…