This week’s Young Voices with Jonty Leibowitz
Last weekend LJY-Netzer hosted Kinus, its annual decision-making forum for members in school years seven to ten.
The most amazing part was that, when given the chance to make their voices heard, our young people did something the ‘adult’ Jewish and wider community has failed to do – take on the aggressive racism of US presidential candidate Donald Trump.
We all know far-right rhetoric is on the rise, from the march of the Front National in France to Trump’s outrageous call to ban Muslims entering the USA.
Sadly, those who defend an open and tolerant society have failed to find their voice.
Trump leads the Republican polls in America, while in Europe the far-right continues to burn mosques and attack synagogues. At Kinus, young British Liberal Jews proved they will not let this stand.
The motion written, debated and passed by children as young as 11 was a passionate defence of ‘fairness’, ‘freedom’ and ‘kindness’ – values at the heart of the Jewish community. Across British Jewry, young people are leading the fight to defend our values.
Youth movements deeply rooted in the principles of Tikkun Olam and youth empowerment are educating a generation of new leaders, who are not content to let their age be a barrier to change.
Young Jewish groups are campaigning for Syrian refugees, attending climate change marches in France and combating anti-Semitism on campus.
In short, they are making their voices heard. And this matters, especially when the dog-whistle of racism pollutes our politics. At LJY-Netzer, we proudly partner with like-minded Muslim youth groups, because we believe the best antidote to racism is the kind-heartedness of youth.
Next week, at our annual decision-making forum for the older members, Veidah, and throughout the year, the process of youth empowerment and challenging hatred will continue.
• Jonty is a madrich on LJY-Netzer and a member of the Finchley Progressive Synagogue