The AVI CHAI Foundation has announced that it is allocating up to $1.15 million over the course of the next three years to four individuals and one team of two whom it has selected as the first recipients of The AVI CHAI Fellowship.

The program is unique and constitutes the largest cash award to emerging communal and educational leaders within the North American Jewish community. It has been approved for three award cycles with a financial commitment of approximately $3 million.

More than 40 nominations were submitted by twenty nominators (18 from the U.S. and 2 from Israel).

The AVI CHAI Fellowship was kept under wraps and the nominators and selections committee remained anonymous so the integrity of the nomination and selection process not be compromised. Only when the pool was winnowed down to seven nominees was their involvement solicited.

The AVI CHAI Foundation occupies a singular spot in North American Jewish life. Defining its goals as fostering high levels of Jewish literacy, deepening religious purposefulness and promoting Jewish Peoplehood along with deeper connections to the State of Israel.

AVI CHAI works toward achieving these goals via

  • supporting programs in the Jewish day school and camping fields
  • strengthening key institutions in these fields
  • engaging partners and successors.

“Although the Foundation will cease making grants in 2020,” explains Arthur Fried, AVI CHAI’s Chairman, “its work will be far from completed, for the challenges that confront the Jewish communities where we work are perpetual. It is our desire that the work not end — rather that it be continued by others, who perhaps will be animated by what we have started, and by the standards we have tried to set.

The AVI CHAI Fellowship is intended to be a vehicle for investing in people with vision, creativity, courage, savvy and stamina to try new things, to think outside the conventional boxes or inside them in new ways, and to see opportunities where others see obstacles.”

Each of the AVI CHAI Fellows has demonstrated a track record of commitment towards these ends and although the award – $75K per fellow or team per year – will go towards their proposed activities, the purpose of The Fellowship is to advance and promote the individual winners as important forces in building a vital American Jewish future built upon these values.

We’ll keep you posted on the winners and their projects.

about: The AVI CHAI Foundation, endowed by Zalman C. Bernstein, z”l, is a private foundation operating in Israel, North America and the former Soviet Union. The Foundation is committed to the perpetuation of the Jewish people, Judaism and the centrality of the State of Israel to the Jewish people.

updated May 13th: meet the Fellowship winners here.