Rabbi Jonny Newman
Senior UK Educator, The Forum for Jewish Leadership

In 2008, a small group of entrepreneurial educators in the UK recognised a crucial and concerning gap in Jewish education offerings for ambitious, driven students from leading universities together, with a void in young leadership. In response, Rabbis Andrew Savage, Daniel Rowe and Naftali Schiff founded The Forum for Jewish Leadership (FJL) to identify and develop the next generation of Jewish leaders, by exposing intellectually curious young Jews to deeply inspiring and thought-provoking Jewish role-models, values and experiences. The late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, whilst serving as Chief Rabbi, joined this initiative as the Founding Honorary President. Under his vision and educational direction, FJL developed expertise at delivering sophisticated programs, deeply rooted in authentic Judaism, core Jewish values and appreciation of the state of Israel. At the centre of this approach is the ‘FJL Internship programme’. The first iteration was launched in Washington DC for British students. It combined substantive professional development alongside immersive programming exposing the participants to great Jewish leaders, profound Jewish wisdom, exciting Jewish experiences, as well relevant education in the political, business and Israel advocacy spheres.
Under the leadership of Director Ben Thwaites, and Senior Educator Rabbi Dr. Effie Kleinberg, the initiative has continued to grow and has been replicated all over the world. The ‘FJL Internship programme’ is now also offered in New York, London and Tel Aviv. Participants join from across Europe, America, South America, Canada and Australia. Highlights include exclusive meetings with President Herzog, Israeli Chief Rabbi Lau, Malcolm Hoenline, Ken Weinstein, Anne Neuberger, George Rohr, numerous Israeli Ambassadors, politicians, CEO’s, senior ranking army and security officials.
Upon return from a programme, alumni are encouraged to join further opportunities to assist them in continuing their connection to the inspiring and empowering experience they had on the trip. Previously directed by the Friedman family (Rabbi Moshe and Shalvie), and currently by the Newmans (Rabbi Jonny and Elisheva), the FJL alumni community offers many ways to continue the Jewish leadership journey, including: a mentoring scheme, networking events, Friday night dinners, Jewish study groups and trips abroad.
In addition to the outgrowth of programming from FJL alumni looking inwards, there have also been a number of projects looking outwards as alumni recognize their potential to make a difference in the community and beyond. Areas that have been addressed include, political and Israel advocacy, volunteering, women’s and Sefardi leadership, empowering young professionals to host Friday night dinners and professional networking. Central to all of this is a continued exposure to the FJL vision of demonstrating and inspiring an approach to life combining professional success integrated with a passionate engagement with Jewish life and Jewish values. This consistent theme has impacted our alumni to think beyond themselves and access their potential as Jewish leaders. Many of them have since taken on positions of leadership and responsibility within the community, including becoming founders and trustees of Jewish charities, governors in Jewish schools, communal Rabbis and Jewish educators, as well as roles within the Board of Deputies of British Jews and World Jewish Relief.
This year’s New York internship programme for British students begins on Monday and runs throughout July, while a group of American students are currently midway through their programme in Tel Aviv. Additionally, next month will see the launch of two volunteering missions in Israel specifically tailored for FJL alumni. These initiatives continue to expand FJL’s impact, nurturing young Jewish leaders and fostering a deep connection to Jewish values and community engagement worldwide.