Young Leaders of Today

Photo: courtesy of FedNext

By: David Amiel
Chair, YAD Campaign – Combined Jewish Appeal 2011

When we had our first child, it was the first time that I consciously recognized that it was no longer “just about me”, that I now have both the responsibility and opportunity to do something for those that follow. As we had our second and then third child, and as they became more ingrained in Jewish day schools, I realized that Montreal is our home.  This is the community that we inherited, but this is also the community that we are going to pass on. So for my family and I believe for most of our age group, we appreciate our good fortune in inheriting a tremendously vibrant and successful Montreal Jewish community.

What I have now, I have because those that came before me. My parents and my grandparents made sacrifices, made investments, made choices for the betterment of my life. My grandparents picked up from Morocco, got on a boat with absolutely nothing and crossed the ocean just because they wanted to give a better life to their kids. For them to work so hard and toil for so long and yet all they thought when they got here was “How am I going to make sure I live until tomorrow; what am I going to have tomorrow?” I have never had any worries in my life thanks to them. I’ve never known hunger, poverty. I’ve never known what it’s like to go without.

So being in this position, my natural question is what do I want to ensure for my children? They have a roof over their heads, they have food on their plate, they go to school, and so what is my role as their father? As their role model? I want them to know from very early on in their lives that there are others who are not as fortunate, there are others who don’t have what we have and that it is too easy to take things for granted. I want them to appreciate that there is a bigger picture. I want them to understand the world around them.

Photo: courtesy of FedNext

Many of my generation are well educated, we are entrepreneurial, ingrained in our businesses, successful at what we do and we see our positions in community right now as an opportunity. It’s like a family business in that regard. You listen and you learn from those who came before and then finally when you get the keys to the office, you have two ways to look at it. You can see it as an opportunity to grow it, to evolve it and to strengthen it. Or you see that this beautiful gift, that with this birthright that you were given, you have a responsibility to protect it and a responsibility to ensure that those who come after understand it, breathe it and they, in turn, will pass it on to the generation that follows. For me, the ideal is to combine both views.

There are almost 19,000 Jews in Montreal who would fit into YAD (25 to 45 years old). We have 2,000 donors. I’m chairing the YAD Campaign because I want to increase that number.  Every new donor makes a difference and can improve the life of just one person.  Who knows what difference that will make in the long run? If something I do is going to allow an 8 year old to attend a Jewish camp in the summer, who knows what that child is going to become?  Who knows what their connection will be to community? It might pay itself off a thousand fold in the future for little today.

Our young leaders recognize the schools in our community; we recognize the camps that our kids go to. We are fully cognizant of our community. We fully understand and appreciate it. But we are sometimes referred to as the “next generation”, the “next leaders of tomorrow”.  And I say why “tomorrow”? We are no longer the future. We are the present. And as such, I truly believe that we are ready to seize the opportunity and make the investment today in order to secure a strong and vibrant future for our children and for generations to come.

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