Adam Milstein Fosters Jewish Pride in the Next Generation

Adam Milstein Philanthropist

Adam Milstein works hard to leave the next generation connected and empowered. The Jewish community of the world is able to come together over everything from important matters to meme competitions.

It’s always been said, and for good reason, that children are the future. Children will grow up to be the entrepreneurs, the political leaders, and the activists of tomorrow. In fact, the youth of today are already starting to make their own mark on the world by speaking up when they see something that they feel is wrong. Young people leverage their voices, their artistic talents, and their social media accounts to support the causes they care about and call out injustices in the world.

They have made it clear that they have a voice to be heard.
But not all of the rising generation has a platform ready for them when they make their stands. In this generation, identity and community are essential. Teenagers and young adults fly their sexual orientations, genders, races, and other identifiers as banners. They band together with others who identify in the same way. They take pride in their labels. But for Jewish adolescents who want to embrace their culture fully, they sometimes find themselves unsupported or even in opposition to their peers. When they want to express support for Israel, their views are sometimes met with hostility by classmates and friends.

The result? Jewish young people, especially American-born Jewish adolescents, feel disconnected and even sometimes ashamed of their culture.
No teenager should have to feel that way about their own roots.
But this is particularly problematic because many pro-Israel groups feel that Israel needs the support of the next generation, especially in America and the West where support for Israel can be precarious. It takes strong voices of proud Jewish Americans to make a stand against Israeli biases and to call out antisemitism.

This is why many pro-Israel organizations are turning towards empowering the Israeli American and Jewish American youth. Adam Milstein, an avid pro-Israel activist, has supported many college organizations and programs geared towards Jewish youth, such as the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) and the Arabs Breaking the Silence speaking tour. His wife, Gila Milstein, who is the other founder of the Milstein Family Foundation, is the president of the MERONA Campus Leadership Foundation, which encourages pro-Israel students to step up and become the leaders they desire to be.

Milstein, the chair for National Expansion with the Israeli-American Council (IAC), also hosted an IAC panel in November which addressed the issue that Jewish students face on college campuses.

The panelists included Jacob Baime of the Israel on Campus Coalition, Amanda Berman of the Zioness movement, and Israeli journalists Ben Dror Yemini and Dror Eydar.
Much of empowerment is education- and the best way to stay in touch with your culture when you live far away from it is to learn about it.
That is why Adam Milstein has been involved in many programs geared towards teaching Jewish American kids Hebrew and educating them about Israel. He and Gila started Sifriyat Pijama B’America, which offered free books in Hebrew to Jewish families across America until 2016, when the Israeli-American Council (IAC), on which Adam Milstein is the chair for National Expansion, took on the IAC Keshet program. In addition to offering affordable Hebrew books, IAC Keshet serves as an enrichment program for children to learn Hebrew as well as music, dance, arts and crafts, all relating to their culture. There are now IAC Keshet programs in 12 major cities across the country.

When it comes to high school and college students, social media is ingrained into their daily lives.
Internet memes have become almost a language all their own, used not only for the sake of jokes but also as a form of self-expression and even activism. Adam Milstein’s active presence on social media has allowed him to see first-hand the impact of internet memes, especially those created by adolescents. That ultimately inspired him to form the Milstein Meme Competition in the summer of last year. The Milstein Meme Competition accepted hundreds of memes over the Milstein Family Foundation’s Facebook page, which were judged first by reactions on Facebook and then by a panel of high school and college age judges.

“Our panelists are the foremost authorities on making and sharing memes,” Milstein said after the first competition.

The one thing these varied memes had to have in common? Explicit support for Israel, whether in celebrating Israel and the Jewish people or calling out antisemitism. Some of the memes referenced Gal Gadot, the Israeli actress now famous for playing Wonder Woman, with one meme referring to the women of the IDF as “wonder women.” After the success of the first competition, a second one followed in December, and the competition looks to continue to grow from there. Through it, young Jewish people are able to express their pride in their culture and are empowered in their support for Israel.

It’s difficult to take pride in your culture when you’ve spent so much time in your life separated from it, as has been the case for many Jewish American adolescents who have never been able to see Israel. It’s also hard to go against your peers and friends when it comes to controversial topics like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But with sometimes uncertain support for Israel in the West, it’s more important than ever for Jewish people to let their voices be heard instead of simply waiting for allies to speak up.

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