The Bronfman Fellowships, a vibrant, influential network of young Jews from North America and Israel, has announced several leadership changes and new positions. The announcement was made by Adam R. Bronfman, president of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, whose father Edgar M. Bronfman z”l founded the fellowship program in 1987.
Rebecca (Becky) Voorwinde will become executive director of the Bronfman Fellowships, charged with overseeing the intensive year-long programs for promising American and Israeli teens as well as an increasingly active alumni community. Voorwinde has played a key role in shaping the organization since 2008, when she became director of alumni engagement, designing strategies for peer leadership and peer-to-peer mentorship that are looked to as models of success. Since 2011, she has also served as co-director and director of strategy and community engagement of the Bronfman Fellowships, alongside Rabbi Mishael Zion (see below for more on his exciting new role).
Voorwinde is frequently consulted as an expert on the attitudes, engagement patterns and interests of young Jews today, and on creating a mutually respectful relationship between Israeli and American Jews. A 1997 Bronfman Fellowships alumna, Voorwinde previously worked in the private and not-for-profit sectors with a focus on corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As the Fellowships enters its thirtieth year of operation, Voorwinde will be the first-ever alumna of the program to assume the role of executive director.
Rabbi Mishael Zion, who since 2011 has served as co-director and director of education, will pioneer a new role as the Bronfman Fellowships’ community scholar and rabbi. In this capacity, Rabbi Zion will further his work as an intellectual and spiritual guiding voice within the Fellowships while also pursuing other endeavors, including serving as a visiting scholar at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem and writing a cultural commentary on the Book of Esther, to be published in February 2017.
Rabbi Zion, who has been featured as one of Newsweek/The Daily Beast’s top ten Rabbis to Watch, is a frequent contributor to publications such as Tablet, The Jewish Week and Makor Rishon.
In addition to these leadership changes, Daphna Yizrael will assume the role of director of Israel operations, beginning in May. Yizrael is currently the director of programs at Beit Tefilah Israeli, a pioneering secular Jewish community in Tel Aviv, and previously served as senior emissary to the Jewish Federation of Greater Metro West in New Jersey. Daphna succeeds Tova Serkin, who is stepping down after four successful years. During her tenure, Serkin strengthened the Israeli alumni community by creating new programs and events for older alumni. She also revamped the Fellowships’ marketing strategy, breaking records for applicants in Israel.
The Bronfman Fellowships inspire promising Jews from diverse backgrounds to take a leading role in shaping society by contributing their talents and vision to their communities and the world. The Fellowships tap exceptional North Americans and Israelis at a formative point in their lives, before their senior year of high school, and imbue them with a commitment to Jewish learning and a sense of purpose that animates their lives and pursuits.