The 36 Under 36 Innovators Lighting the Way
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The 36 Under 36 Innovators Lighting the Way

These young Jewish leaders face challenging times with empathy, optimism and innovation.

Hannah Dreyfus is a staff writer at the New York Jewish Week. She covers abuses of power in non-profit and religious settings. She heads up the Investigative Journalism Fund, an initiative to fill a gap in investigative and enterprise reporting. Reach her at hannah@jewishweek.org

They didn’t start the fire.

But this year’s cohort of 36 Under 36 honorees is taking it upon itself to douse flames of injustice, misinformation and abuse as the nation, and the Jewish community, face dire challenges.

As warnings about climate change mount, we profile a restaurant entrepreneur carefully crafting a local, sustainable dining ethic, and a young teacher bringing environmental education to Jewish day schools through the lens of Torah.

As the #MeToo movement continues to reverberate, we profile a young woman poised to take over a 100-year-old Jewish women’s organization who is no stranger to speaking truth to power; an advocate for survivors of sexual violence crisscrossing the country to educate Jewish professionals in prevention best practices; and a cantor working to raise up the voices of women in traditional prayer.

[Meet them here.]

And as humanitarian crises deepen across the globe, from Venezuela to Yemen, our 36ers are putting their shoulders to the wheel to offer comfort: A high school senior launches a nonprofit that collects and distributes sports equipment for children in need around the world; and a native of the Yucatan Peninsula guides Spanish-speaking converts through the long journey to conversion, while fighting anti-immigrant bias along the way.

Locally, with misinformation about measles spreading, we honor a nurse practitioner on the frontlines of the battle against fear-mongering and propaganda that has put the Jewish community at risk. And as dozens of states consider legislation that could allow for LGBTQ discrimination, we shine a light on a high school senior who uses her own story to advocate for transgender, queer and non-binary Jewish youth.

The three dozen young leaders here, a varied and inspiring lot, are meeting troubling times with an outpouring of empathy, optimism and innovation.

“No we didn’t light it. But we tried to fight it.” – Billy Joel

Meet them here. 

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