Jewish communal engagement with Generation Z will not look like engagement with previous generations. This change was in the works long before COVID-19 and will follow Gen Z throughout their lifetime. Lost Tribe Esports was founded to address that change, to navigate the next frontier of Jewish engagement, and to provide a critical entry point to Jewish experience, values, and identity for a vast “lost tribe” of young Jews.
Today’s youth have grown up plugged in to a “do-it-yourself” content landscape. They favor platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok, where the line between star and fan is fluid, and in which content-viewers easily become content-creators as well.
For this generation, the digital experience is not about eyeballs and information, it’s about participation. They are accustomed to calling the shots, to dipping in and out of communities, and to having access to tools that amplify their voice, wherever they go. Their preference for interactive platforms will profoundly diminish the power of traditional outlets over the next two decades. Media channels, sports leagues, and consumer brands are scrambling to adapt and connect with these future customers or risk irrelevance.
Even prior to the pandemic shutdown, an estimated 80% of Jewish teens in North America were considered disengaged from organized Jewish life post bar/bat mitzvah. Lost Tribe launched in 2019 with a mission to find this these hard-to-reach teens and offer them a new kind of entry point to Jewish life; one that speaks their language and helps rekindle their Jewish journeys.
Lost Tribe Esports has become a laboratory to develop participatory engagement that speaks to this generation. We leverage new media and data in innovative ways to counter the long decline in engagement—and help this vibrant, creative new generation discover, understand, and embrace their Jewish identity.
We have engaged over 15,000 unique participants in our first two years. During these extraordinary months of cancellation and closure—as traditional venues for teens to gather have been shut down—we have fostered Jewish friendships, facilitating over 250,000 text messages and over 4,000 hours of audio chat between teens across North America, in Israel, and beyond.
To find Jewish teens who are not engaged in youth groups, day schools, synagogues, JCCs or camps, we are building a broad social media footprint. Since January 2020, we have logged over three million viewings of our posts and begun to attract and engage “lost tribe” teens.
Affiliated and disaffiliated teens alike are drawn to our online game nights, tournaments, and livestreams every week, as well as to programming like Intro to Music Making, Intro to Coding, and How to Be a Content Creator. We work with influencers to deliver content that goes well beyond gaming—tapping into culture, fashion, music, comedy, and more, to engage a wide range of Jewish youth.
We incorporate Jewish values and customs including Tzedakah, engagement with Israel, and the Jewish holidays into our gaming experiences. When teens participate in Lost Tribe, they discover a safe, vibrant home base where they connect with Jewish peers, build a new appreciation for the Jewish community, and cultivate a life-long relationship with Judaism that resonates with their passions.
We brought Jewish pride and identity—as well as Jewish education and ritual—to thousands of teens in 2020, and participation is expanding in 2021. Our programs have broken the mold and are pioneering a new frontier of Jewish community.
Generation Z has always done it differently than did their predecessors. Lost Tribe is speaking their language and learning to master the media they prefer. We believe our discoveries today will benefit the entire Jewish community of tomorrow as this important generation moves into adulthood.
Lenny Silberman is the Founder & CEO of Lost Tribe Esports and Peter Shevenell is the COO of Lost Tribe Esports.