Consider the millennials, three dozen of whom are profiled in our annual 36 Under 36 section, a special supplement in this week’s paper; they are the generation born between 1980 and 2000. They’re self-absorbed (55 percent of them have shared a selfie, compared with 24 percent of Gen-Xers); they’re unmoored from religion (nearly 30 percent say they’re not affiliated with any religion, compared with 21 percent of Gen-Xers); and they’re distrustful of people (only 19 percent said that most people can be trusted, compared with 31 percent of Gen-Xers). That’s data culled from a 2014 Pew Research Center study.
Consider the 36 young innovators and social entrepreneurs profiled here as the “B” side of the millennials’ record (a baby boomer-generation reference, if there ever was one). They may have shared a selfie, but they’ve also harnessed the power of social media and technology to spur change. They may be religiously unaffiliated, but some are deeply tied to Jewish tradition and are working to extend its reach. They may be distrustful of people, but they’re deeply trusting of their Jewish values, often putting them into play in the service of others.
This year we received more than 600 submissions of possible 36ers from across the Jewish world, many more than in previous years. It’s a sign that, while millennials may have a measure of self-absorption, they also have measure of other-directedness, which many in the community have taken note of. We salute their work, whether it’s helping to make mikvahs more accessible to more Jews on the Upper West Side, or providing micro-grants to impoverished communities in East Africa. We also salute NYU’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, and its executive director and chair, Naomi Levine, for partnering with us in sponsoring this special supplement. And remember, you’re holding in your hands the Jewish future.