On Sunday, the Board of Deputies held its first ever Youth Assembly, bringing together young people aged between 16-27 from across the country for a packed programme on Zoom. The event was organised by a committee of young Deputies, chaired by Sally Patterson and Nathan Boroda, working with Vice President Edwin Shuker.
Keynote speaker Stephen Bush reflected on his experiences as a young activist at university and chairing the Board of Deputies Commission on Racial Inclusivity, telling participants to not be afraid to be “mouthy”, and that “if you don’t speak, then things don’t improve.”
The programme included a session with Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat Ambassador Ishmael Khaldi, and workshops on anti-racism in the Jewish community with Loretta Hodari and on refugees with Amos Schonfield and Moses Seitler. Other highlights included European Union of Jewish Students President Bini Guttmann sharing stories of youth activism elsewhere in Europe, and sessions on the Mikveh Project and Eco-Synagogue with Sam Clifford and Jodi Coffman.
Attendees also had an opportunity to put questions to the Board of Deputies Honorary Officers who were all in attendance.
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said “I am so excited that so many young people joined the inaugural Youth Assembly on Sunday. This historic event fulfilled a key manifesto pledge of mine to develop spaces for young people in the Board of Deputies, and it is our hope that this will not be a one-off event but will kickstart a deeper engagement in our work for young people. I also want to pay tribute to the hard work of the committee – all young Deputies who created a wonderful event for other young people in the community.”
Co-Chair of the Youth Assembly Committee Nathan Boroda said “young people in our community are not homogenous. Sunday’s participants were politically, religiously and geographically diverse. Our strength comes in meeting one another, debating constructively, and driving social change together, which is exactly what we did.” Co-Chair Sally Patterson added “We are delighted that so many young Jews have taken part in this event. Now we need to ensure that young people go back to their synagogues and stand to be the next generation of Deputies.”