Why is this Important?
Making Judaism and Israel inspiring and accessible to young Jewish adults in the GTA is critical in shaping a strong personal Jewish identity. Deep connections to Israel, Jewish social connections, and connections to relevant programs in the GTA for young adults, helps to foster future involvement and engagement and is the foundation of a strong Jewish community. University-aged students are moving away from the nest and entering a world of many options and possibilities for connections. It is encumbent upon the Jewish community to ensure that there are programs and opportunities available to this age group for ongoing Jewish engagement.
What are the trends?
Birthright Israel, which was founded over a decade ago, continues to grow as a point of engagement for emerging adults. Offering these Jews the gift of Israel has proven to be a powerful identity building experiences which empowers their Jewish identity and affiliation.
More recently, we’ve seen the growth of social media as a key forum for engaging emerging adults. Through intentional outreach strategies, social media is playing an increased role in this critical work.
Recognizing changing Jewish demographics on campuses across Southern Ontario, in 2015 UJA catalyzed the creation of Hillel Ontario to serve Jewish students across the region. Today, Hillel Ontario is the largest regional Hillel in North America, leveraging several resources to impact the lives of approximately 14,000 students.
How are we doing?
The growth in both Birthright Israel and social media engagement are key indicators of improved engagement efforts. To reach a critical mass of students, however, the growth must continue on this trajectory.