For Austen Science, the continuing line of community leaders produced by the foundation bearing his late son Adam’s name is a comforting tribute.
“We’re all given a lot of strength by the fact that the programme has continued for 20 years,” said Mr Science during the scheme’s anniversary week.
Originally from Newcastle, Adam Science died in a road accident at the age of 27, having established a reputation as an inspirational young leader.
Since 1992, 200 young professionals from across the country have taken part in the year-long leadership course, involving monthly seminars and combining hands-on training with talks from experienced leaders, mentoring and a visit to Boston to learn from the community there.
Some candidates put themselves forward for the programme, now run by Lead (Jewish Leadership Excellence and Development) and part-funded by UJIA. Others are nominated by communal groups. The aim is to give future leaders a full overview of the community and the skills to take charge.
Ninety per cent of Adam Science graduates are still active in the community, working for charities, synagogues and other organisations.
Such a project had been an ambition of Adam Science, and his friends were instrumental in making it happen. Having chaired Jewish Care and UJIA committees, “Adam had been looking at developing a leadership course,” Mr Science recalled.
One of the graduates is Danny Stone, director of the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Foundation.
He had signed up because “the opportunities for high-quality training had not matched my determination to take on leadership roles. What I received was an important stop-gap in my leadership development. It was a chance to pause and think about the type of leader I wanted to be.”
Another to come through the Adam Science Foundation is Marc Bergen, a trustee of the Tibetan Jewish Youth Exchange and co-chair of the Young Norwood lawyers’ group
“I didn’t really know what opportunities were out there,” he explained. “I was already a ‘doer’ within the community. However, I had a real feeling that I could achieve so much more. It opened my eyes to the different elements that make up the British Jewish community, the issues facing it and what we, as young Jewish leaders, can do to change things.” For Sammy Rubin — who went on to found the Beit Midrash educational programme for university students — the scheme provided “access to a community of like-minded people who were passionate about making a difference”.
Jason Holt was part of the pilot programme 20 years ago and credits it with giving him a “deep insight into leadership” that has served him well both communally and professionally.
It also “opened up doors in the community,” acknowledged Shoshana Bloom, who works for Norwood and has twice co-chaired Limmud, which she attended for the first time as part of her Adam Science experience in 2001.
And, as well as filling up their contact books, participants forge lasting friendships.
“The programme’s messages still feel very current,” Mr Bergen added. “My year group is still in regular contact, always bouncing ideas off and advising each other on our respective communal challenges. I have no doubt that we shall still be meeting up and doing the same for many years.”
Mr Science, his wife and daughter attended a London celebration of the programme’s 20 years in London on Tuesday, featuring talks by Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and Harvard academic Professor Ronald Heifetz. Although a bitter-sweet anniversary, Israel-based Mr Science said it meant a lot to relatives to see the scope of his son’s legacy.