Ten years ago, when we launched our “36 Under 36” project, we thought we were highlighting the achievements of the next generation of leaders in the Jewish community. By now, with the publication in this issue of the 2017 edition of our 36ers — now totaling a bit more than 360, including couples — we realize they are not the leaders of tomorrow, they’re the leaders of today.

We invite you to meet them, and read their brief bios brimming with creative accomplishments and a variety of ways of fulfilling the ideal of tikkun olam, repairing the world.

The perception persists that the younger generation is more inward-focused than their elders, driven towards financial success, less connected to Israel and Jewish life. For many, though, the Jewish connections are strong, they are just expressed differently, focused on finding new paths toward community rather than affiliating with existing institutions.

As our introduction to the “36” section notes, this year’s crop reflects a response to the political and social conditions that threaten society’s most vulnerable members. At a time of “immigration bans, threats to reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights and a pronounced uptick in hate crimes against minorities,” a number of Jewish millennials are working for social justice and racial diversity. This year’s “36” cohort includes two women seeking to stop child abuse in the community, a journalist exposing hate on the Internet, a blind rabbinical school student championing accessibility, two Jews of color working for more inclusion, and an eighth-grader campaigning against bullying.

Looking back over a decade of 36ers, we find a consistent pattern of young women and men finding creative ways to help others. Our first cohort, from 2008, includes a number of now well-known leaders in the fields of the rabbinate, pro-Israel advocacy, Jewish scholarship, social justice, and more. Each subsequent crop yields more names of communal leaders in a variety of professions.

We hope this annual section not only brings recognition to the individual young people cited for their pioneering efforts, but also highlights the fact that so many of their generation are engaged in finding meaning in their lives by helping others.

Meet the 2017 “36 under 36” here.

View the “36 Under 36” edition from previous years here.