The World Jewish Congress continued its Plenary Assembly on Monday morning with a side event discussing the future of Jewish leadership. The conversation, which was held for members of WJC NextGen, featured WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps Members reflecting on their experience in leadership, as well as the challenges and opportunities in Jewish leadership.
The event, moderated by WJC NextGen Senior Manager Yoni Hammerman, featured remarks from WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps Members Yohan Benizri, Adam Hummel, Dr. Efrat Sopher, and Adela Smeke, each of whom talked about the importance of young Jewish leader and offered advice to young Jewish leaders. The session concluded with questions from WJC Ronald S. Lauder Fellows and NextGen members.
Adam Hummel, a lawyer and board member of the Canadian Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), called on young Jewish leaders to ensure their “voice is amplified as much as it can be, adding, “just because people may be older and just because they may have been sitting on the board for much longer than you doesn't necessarily mean that they're that their knowledge or opinion is more valuable than yours.”
Yohan Benizri, President of the Coordination Committee of the Jewish Organizations of Belgium, said that while it may be difficult for smaller communities like his to find the proper resources, the biggest challenge for him is “lack of time,” joking that they'll be many people around you giving their opinion.”
Contributing to the discussion, Dr. Efrat Sopher a board member of the WJC-affiliated British Board of Deputies, called for young Jewish leaders to embrace challenges head on, saying, “Every opportunity that you get and every challenge that you meet is another tool in your toolkit that you have at a later time.” Referring to the challenges as ‘treasures’, Sopher reminded young leaders that they are the guardian of the Jewish identity and that they are entrusted with its future.
Adela Smeke, founder and vice president of FeMeJJ and a board member of the Mount Sinai Community in Mexico City, reiterated Sopher’s message, calling on the young leaders “not to give up,” adding “you are needed on the front lines.”
The WJC Plenary Assembly, which elects WJC leadership and sets policy for the years ahead, takes place every four years and brings together delegates from WJC-affiliated Jewish communities and organizations in more than 100 countries around the world. Previous topical discussion sessions have covered the Iranian nuclear threat, Israel’s political future, and the role on young leaders within their communities. Participants also had the opportunity to interact with leading Muslim representatives from the Muslim World League, Special Envoys and Coordinators Combating Antisemitism (SECCA) and senior leaders from Facebook and TikTok.
The formal Plenary session will be held online on 25 May 2021.
The World Jewish Congress NextGen program supports and empowers the young leaders who are making a difference in their communities today and trains them to be the changemakers of tomorrow. NextGen works with these next generation leaders to ensure that the Jewish people around the globe are strong, protected, and united in creating a better world. Individuals between the age of 16 and 26 can get involved in WJC NextGen projects and gain valuable insights, learn new skills, and make impactful change for the Jewish world. Learn more about WJC NextGen Projects here.