The wait is finally over! Jewish News, together with the Jewish Leadership Council, today puts an end to every Jewish mother’s anticipation by beginning the countdown to the communal stars of the future.
Over the next three weeks – culminating in our special souvenir 1,000th issue on 27 April – we will identify and celebrate the Jewish community’s faces of the future in two lists, Eighteen Under 18 and Thirty Under 30.
We received hundreds of nominations from across the country, making this a truly nationwide initiative, with the top places selected by a panel of Jewish leaders in the worlds of politics, art, education and culture.
Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer said: “The newspaper is all about recognising potential and celebrating success. The names topping our Thirty Under 30 list may already be making a difference, while our Eighteen Under 18s includes innovators, creatives, campaigners, event organisers and young leaders. It’s gratifying to know that our community will be in skilful hands for many decades to come.”
Chair of the judging panel Andrew Gilbert said: “Once one gets to campus reputations grow quickly but for all the panel the Eighteen Under 18 brought us fresh names we did not know with great stories to tell. The promise of the next generation is as rich and varied as any previous generation.”
- Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the JLC: You’ll be dazzled by the dynamism of our youth
Our next generation
Amitai Landau-Pope, aged 18
As head boy of JFS, Amitai has demonstrated an exceptional standard in his leadership style and sense of responsibility, remaining calm and humble at all times while maintaining respect and authority among his peers.
He has worked as the school’s AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women) coordinator and organised the school’s largest turnout at the AJEX parade. He also represented the Jewish community, alongside the Chief Rabbi, at the Naz Foundation’s interfaith Iftar at Lambeth Palace.
Amitai is a promotor of mental health awareness, a madrich at RSY and a youth leader at Finchley Reform Synagogue. Last year, he was chosen to be a member of the Young People’s Script Panel at the Royal Court Theatre. Now he is writing and directing a verbatim play about the life of Eleanor Rathbone for an event at JFS for the Eleanor Rathbone Charitable Trust. His many talents and interests serve the community around him.
Dawn Bennett, aged 17
Since her batmitzvah, Dawn has engaged with social action in a productive way. She founded the charity Evolve in 2012 with the intention of helping former Soviet communities to develop and recover from their 20th century history.
Since its beginnings, Evolve has worked to provide resources for the Jewish wing of the Minsk State Kindergarten, set up a new kindergarten in Ukraine, and has raised money for orphanages in Eastern Europe to buy washing machines and tumble dryers. The charity’s biggest project is an annual summer camp in Ukraine, which Dawn organises and runs for 80 Jewish and non-Jewish children.
The camp aims to support them through traumas brought about by the dramatic political situation.
Dawn’s strong belief in the importance of community also makes her a generous and active chair for the Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls’ Jewish Society and a committed madricha (youth leader) at Camp Simcha.
Avi Dubiner, aged 16, & Michal Morgenstern, aged 17
Avi and Michal work tirelessly on GIFT’s Shabbat Walk project, coordinating Shabbat afternoon visits by teenagers to care homes, hospitals and those who are lonely or in need of extra support.
They work with Jewish Care, Norwood, KEF, Kisharon and Camp Simcha to provide care and comfort to vulnerable people in the community. During the week, Michal and Avi arrange for volunteers to visit families with financial difficulties or children with special needs.
The pair organise food packing by volunteers twice a month, conduct training sessions for the hundreds of volunteers and are continually exploring new initiatives to keep the Shabbat Walk expanding and affecting change.
Not only do they dedicate hours to the organisation of the project, they also walk miles every Shabbat to take part themselves. They deserve credit for their incredible commitment and positive influence in the community.
Dania Mann-Wineberg, aged 17
Mancunian Dania is involved in everything, volunteering for soup kitchens, attending
Shabbat services at the Heathlands Village care home, and spending time with children with special needs, painting and gardening with them to improve their coordination and allow their parents some rest.
She is a committee member at Friendship Circle, a Jewish charity aiming to provide fun and integrating activities to people with special needs. She runs her shul’s children’s service and mother and toddler group.
Dania also takes part in interfaith events linking her school, Yavneh, where she is head girl, with Manchester Islamic High School for Girls and the nearby Catholic school St Monica’s.
She is also a talented musician, and plays the violin for residents of Newlands care home. She also plays with Mifal Hatruma Ladies Band, which raises money for disadvantaged Israeli teenagers.
Nathan Boroda, aged 17
The energy and attention that Nathan has dedicated to the Jewish Labour Movement
has significantly contributed to its recent revival in Manchester. He has become an
ambassador for the Jewish community there, representing its needs to non-Jewish
audiences and educating non-Jewish MPs in the Labour Party.
At a time when left-wing anti-Semitism is being widely discussed, Nathan’s involvement has been an asset, both in Manchester and across the wider community. During the Ivan Lewis mayoral campaign, he displayed a mature political understanding.
Those who work with him recognise his shrewd, calm leadership, and his articulate confidence. His socialist and Zionist values are deeply rooted in his Judaism and it is this focused, ambitious drive that is so apparent in both his Jewish and secular activities.
Harry Markham, aged 17
King Solomon sixth-former Harry is a proud and dedicated Zionist, showing courage and determination when speaking about his values to both friendly and hostile audiences.
He founded Essex Friends of Israel and Zionist Future, which work to inspire and motivate young people to engage with and recognise the importance of Israel. He has been crucial in securing high-profile speakers for both groups and has been in contact with previous and sitting MPs in his constituency.
His work promotes the welfare of the community and educates many about Zionism. Continuously organising Israeli advocacy events and pro-Israel rallies, Harry aims to share the values that are manifested in the Jewish state and spread a positive Zionist message. Harry’s energy, passion and dedication is contributing to a vibrant Zionist generation.
Zoom Rockman, aged 16
Zoom has already received national recognition for his spectacular cartoons, acclaimed by The Daily Telegraph, British Vogue, the Evening Standard and the Observer Magazine.
Featured in Beano since he was 12, his irreverent comic strips critique urban life and have developed a cult following of people who recognise his astute cultural awareness. More recently, his work has been displayed on the cover of The Hospital Club’s Art Guide, on the London underground and the official UJIA Israel Tour 2016 T-shirt.
His solo exhibition in Covent Garden was a sell-out event. But Zoom also uses his talent for social justice, designing artwork for the refugee campaign #LetTheChildrenIn, and a Shana Tova card sold in aid of the Congregation of Jacob in Whitechapel.
Keen to share his skills, he offers free cartooning workshops to schools in disadvantaged areas and has even spoken in the House of Commons on the importance of innovation and creativity.
Jake Blumenow, aged 17, and Zach Igielman, aged 17
Jake and Zach are entrepreneurial young inventors who crowdfunded a product known as the MakeTronix alarm, an educational tool designed to teach young people about technology and programming.
The product is a DIY kit making use of the versatile mini-computer Raspberry Pi, and lessons provided on the MakeTronix website give instructions encouraging users to “get learning, hacking and programming”.
The boys also deserve recognition for their desire to spread knowledge, which observers say will have a transformative effect. Kantor King Solomon High School, where Zach is a student, has expressed interest in investing, and Ilford MP Wes Streeting has praised the pair’s dedication to teaching computer science.
He also acknowledged the Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade’s role in bringing the boys together on Israel Tour. At JLGB, the boys are also appreciated for their leadership skills, always quietly willing to lend assistance and continuously showing their dedication to educating young people.
Jess Baker, aged 17
Jess, an LJY-Netzer madricha and Birmingham Progressive Synagogue cheder teacher, is outstanding in her commitment to social action. Described as ‘fiercely ideological’, she has worked with Citizens UK for four years and has twice been voted the organisation’s Young Leader of the Year. Her community work extends to campaigning for Birmingham City Council to improve its mental health services and to accept 50 Syrian refugees into the city.
She has organised a number of fundraising sleep-outs for homeless youths, is setting up a Birmingham youth council, and is vocal in encouraging young people to vote. Her dedication to LJY and her stellar leadership qualities have resulted in a significant increase in LJY participants from the Birmingham area.
She has continued with an astonishing amount of extracurricular activities during her A-Levels, and, to top it off, it has been said that when there is one person alone in the group, it’s Jess who will make that person feel welcome.
George Rosenfeld, aged 17
George has the voice of an angel, and he uses it, along with vocal contributions from a group of his friends, to raise money for charities with which the boys have connections through sales of their CDs.
The group, known as the Four Sons, have raised more than £35,000 for WaterAid, and George travelled to Zambia to meet the people who are benefiting from the project, and to learn how the donations are being used. He kept a moving diary of the trip, which demonstrates his sensitive understanding of his own privilege and a strong sense of social justice.
He writes on his website: “I hope that through selling these CDs, we will be able to raise a great amount of money, because if we do, we could be saving thousands of lives. If that’s not a good enough substitute for Fifa 13, what is?” The Four Sons also support Chai Cancer Care and Emunah with their beautiful and popular renditions of the best-known Hebrew psalms and prayers.
Dora Hirsh, aged 16
Dora is a young woman whose love of Judaism has resulted in her being the youngest person to date to participate in the Liberal movement’s Ba’alei Tefilah programme. She has also been accepted to study at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, despite being two years below the age limit.
A true shaliach tzibur (prayer leader), she creates an inclusive atmosphere during services at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, and has been praised for understanding and enhancing the mood of the community. She combines her love of Judaism with her talent for teaching, resulting in her Year 2 Hebrew class having a proficiency in Hebrew that rivals that of pupils in Year 6.
Dora says she recognises the importance of action as well as text in Judaism, a belief that has seen her volunteering at food banks and for refugee projects as well as mentoring students at JCoSS with special needs. She is recognised as a great leader and is on her way to becoming a great rabbi in the future.
Abi Brunner, aged 17
Sweet, energetic, a great tefillah (prayer) leader and a leader amongst her peers, Abi stands out as a shining example of good hadracha (guidance) and commitment to tikkun olam.
She contributes tirelessly to the Together Plan, a charity set up by her mother, which supports young Jews ex-Soviet countries particularly in Belarus and Poland. She volunteers on trips and has been working as a madricha there prior to being a madricha at her own youth movement, RSY.
Her performance of the RSY hadracha course reflects her commitment to strong leadership, teamwork and Jewish education. She is working on another project, compiling a book of creative responses about mental health difficulties by teenagers with first-hand experiences.
The book will aim to show a range of struggles and reactions, working outside of official systems and filters to create an inclusive, genuine account for young readers seeking support.
Jessica Cohen, aged 13
Jessica’s contribution to the learning resource known as Treehouse at No 9 has been transformative for the programme, helping it to expand and develop. Co-founder Karen describes her as the ‘power pack’, unendingly sharing her creative drive.
A platform that tells the stories of children whose disabilities become their superpowers, Treehouse aims to provide children with positive disabled role models, which supporters feel are often sorely missed in mainstream children’s writing.
Jessica has created her own character, Pip, as well as helping to develop the character Freddie for Downs Syndrome Awareness Day.
She has never allowed her own genetic condition to be a barrier to her social action, despite the regular surgery she needs. Jessica astonishes her teachers and other volunteers at Treehouse with her energy and enthusiasm. She is an exceptional ambassador for Treehouse and does credit to the community in her work to raise awareness about disabilities.
Shera Conway, aged 17
Shera is JLGB’s #iWill ambassador, the person nominated by the movement to be involved in a number of cross-communal and interfaith activities rooted in social action. As part of the programme, she volunteered in South Africa and Soweto and met Sadiq Khan the day after his election as Mayor of London.
She credits her participation in the programme for having helped to develop her confidence, leadership skills and community awareness. Her volunteering continues in JLGB, where she is responsible for the 16 to 18-year-old group, making her the youngest senior leader in the movement.
Her positive attitude to hard work and enthusiastic input makes her one of the most sought-after young leaders. She coordinates social and training weekends, helps children at weekly groups, and has held regional positions.
JLGB staff say she probably spends the equivalent of a day job on voluntary hours every week, an astonishing feat to maintain during her A-level year.
Adam Feldman, aged 17
A co-creator of the government watchdog website GovTracker, Adam has shown phenomenal initiative and entrepreneurialism in the development of the project.
He has impressed onlookers with his ahead-of-the-game views on political culpability, and was determined to hold legislators and leaders to account before the term ‘post-truth’ even entered the playing field. Now a highly relevant tool, GovTracker is a go-to resource for political commentators, analysts and A-level students alike.
Adam’s belief and motivation enabled him to gather a talented team of graphic designers and programmers to help him to realise his vision. His engagement in politics and commitment to finding truth makes him a confident debater and public speaker, and he has been praised for his ability to provide transparent, lucid explanations when discussing governmental issues, something that many older and more experienced politicians lack.
He is adaptable and team-oriented, and we look forward to more of Adam’s exciting developments in the future.
Roi Schiff, aged 17
A madrich on Ezra and a committed Talmud scholar, Roi has single-handedly developed the website Time4Torah, which has been designed in order to make Mishnah study more accessible and engaging for young people.
Inspired by his own love of rabbinical texts and the desire to share his passion, Roi started an online learning project designed to teach the Mishnah over three and a half years to daily users. Now the website and lessons are planned and launched, but Roi continues to contribute and update the programme by recording 15-minute talks every day.
He also organises parties to celebrate the completion of every section. His commitment to Judaism and teaching, in a practical and creative way, opens up learning to new people. Roi’s database now contains more than 1,000 names. His commitment to education extends to Ezra, where he is a well-respected madrich.
Zohar Benchetrit, aged 14
Zohar, who is multilingual, uses her love and appreciation of cooking to explore her diverse Jewish roots, which range from Morocco and Algeria to Poland and the Czech Republic.
While she was working on various social action projects with the Yoni Jesner Foundation, she came across the JW3 Challah for Hunger programme, in which volunteers bake and sell challah in aid of the charities Tzedek and Doorstep for the Homeless. Zohar is now a volunteer on a number of JW3 projects, and also works as a youth leader on the school holiday play schemes, despite being aged just 14.
At JFS, she was awarded the first Mensch Prize for her academic work as well as her commitment to social action, and her strong belief in the importance of human rights makes her a keen follower of politics and current affairs. Zohar demonstrates many excellent leadership qualities and will be one to watch in years to come.
Hershi Schneck, aged 16
Hershi is a young man who has found his calling through volunteering at Step by Step, a charity that looks after young people with special needs. Since he became involved with the organisation, his confidence has flourished and he has overcome remarkable challenges, building connections with the young people he supports and sharing his own sensitivity and intelligence.
He ran the most recent recruiting programme for the charity and motivated others to follow his lead in offering care to people with disabilities, including at a full-time residential programme over the summer.
Hershi’s positive lead-by-example style means that many of his peers have also volunteered at Step by Step, and they are now providing care and entertainment on a regular basis to those who are most in need of it. His teachers at Hasmonean have also lauded Hershi’s academic credentials, which they say have expanded rapidly since his transfer from a school where the primary focus was on Talmud study.
IT’S ALSO MAZELTOV TO…JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP 18
Aimee Mandel, Amy Morris, Ariella Taub, BBYO Deganya Chapter Executive (Jodie Godfrey, Sam Taylor, Tabatha Cowan, Jasper Federman, Imogen Frost, Emily Frost)
Ben Wilson and Dion D’Marco, Benjy Goldstone, Charlotte Buchalter, Chloe Spinks
Gavriel Seitler, Gideon Ezra, Joel Simon Carlowe, Jono (Johnathan) Mizrahi, Josh Neumann, Joshua Hennes, Leah Godfrey, Max Heller. Miriam Goldsmith, Natasha Cowan, Nina Peleg, Rafi Kleiman and Daniel Sacks, Rhianna Bongart, Rosie Serlin
Samson Tausig, Samuel Kelly, Saul Federman, Sophie Grabiner, Tali Silas, Toby Weiniger, Vitale Stone, Zoe Harris
Leadership & campaigners:
Harry Markham, Nathan Boroda, Jess Baker, Vitale Stone, Amy Morris Amitai Landau-Pope, Dania Mann Wineberg, Jessica Cohen, Shera Conway, Tali Silas, Rosie Serlin
Innovations & creativity:
Adam Feldman, Jake Blumenow and Zachery Igielman, Zoom Rockman, Zoe Harris, Joshua Hennes
Madrichim mentors & educators:
Dora Hirsh, Roi Schiff, Toby Weiniger, Saul Federman, Gavriel Seitler, Ariella Taub, BBYO Deganya Chapter Executive (Jodie Godfrey, Sam Taylor, Tabatha Cowan, Jasper Federman, Imogen Frost, Emily Frost) Rafi Kleiman and Daniel Sacks, Abi Brunner, Chloe Spinks
Volunteers & fundraisers:
Avi Dubiner & Michal Morgenstern, Dawn Bennett, George Rosenfeld, Hershi Schneck, Zohar Benchetrit, Aimee Mandel, Leah Godfrey, Josh Neumann, Miriam Goldsmith, Charlotte Buchalter, Joel Simon Carlowe