Young adults are eager to volunteer. It’s true! I might even go so far as to say that volunteerism is one of the best ways to keep young adults interested in Jewish communal life.
During my time at Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) I encountered a variety of Jews at our young adult events, all of whom knew exactly why they wanted to be there and often why they brought their friends along. In her commencement address a few weeks ago for the Brandeis University Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, Dr. Erica Brown mentioned that “For the past decade, the tagline of Jewish life has been Tikkun Olam – go fix the world,” and growing up in this culture, many of today’s Jewish young adults in their 20s and 30s are doing just that.
With the drop-off in Jewish engagement for people in their 20s, alternative methods to the classic ‘synagogue membership’ are required. Volunteer programs like JVC are important to sustaining our community, because they fill the need for many young adults to go out and make the world a better place.
Young adults today want to work with multiple demographics, from seniors to impoverished people to individuals with special needs. Providing young adults with a wide range of groups to work with helps keep them interested and motivated.
At every JVC event for young adults, we strive to make sure that we incorporate components that increase their Jewish identity. We created new Jewish learning flyers, and if time allows, we hold a discussion. The topic of the Jewish learning is a section of Jewish text that relates to helping others, or specifically the group we are serving that day. We want to remind all of our volunteers that while helping their community by itself is terrific, there is a Jewish purpose to volunteerism.
Volunteers make a difference in our community, in our city, in our nation and across the world. We are fulfilled by the desire to express our Judaism in ways that make sense to us. Celebrate our strong young adult community in Baltimore and maybe try volunteering if you have a little time.