Bronfman Youth Fellowships Announces New Leadership Team

The Jewish tradition has always valued chevruta learning, the study of Jewish texts in pairs. Two people studying together are able to deepen and enrich the learning by bringing different perspectives into the conversation. The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel (BYFI) believes that the best ideas are born out of collaboration and has announced a new co-director leadership model. Mishael Zion will serve as Director of Education and co-direct BYFI together with Rebecca Voorwinde, the Director of Strategy and Community Engagement.

This partnership will bring Rebecca’s business and organizational development skills together with Mishael’s rabbinic and educational expertise. The organization views this as the development of a holistic approach to leadership, with two distinctive leaders at the helm who will develop the educational vision and further expand the cohort of fellows and alumni. Mishael and Rebecca will support and grow this multifaceted community with attention to both Jewish learning and community development.

This new leadership model is launching at a unique point in BYFI’s 25-year history. The community includes close to 1,000 diverse alumni in North America and in Israel, who contribute their talents to the Jewish community and world at large.

“The BYFI community is truly at the forefront of addressing the most pressing questions and challenges facing the Jewish people today,” said Edgar M. Bronfman, President of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation. “As we hand over the reins of the organization to the co-directors, BYFI will continue to produce significant thought leaders who will influence the Jewish community and the wider world in deeply meaningful ways.”

In January 2011, Rebecca was named Director of Strategy and Community Engagement. Prior to this new role, Rebecca served as Director of Alumni Engagement and led the expansion of BYFI’s alumni efforts for two and a half years. Rebecca is a BYFI alumna (’97) and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College with a B.A. in American Studies. Before coming to BYFI she was corporate responsibility program manager at Ernst & Young. Under Rebecca’s leadership, The Bronfman Youth Fellowships Alumni Venture Fund doubled the number of projects supported with mini-grants and was recognized by 2010-2011 Slingshot as one of the fifty most innovative Jewish initiatives.

Mishael Zion is the co- author of a celebrated Haggadah titled A Night to Remember: The Haggadah of Contemporary Voices, which has been published in English and Hebrew. Mishael has roots in both the North American and Israeli Jewish communities. Raised in Israel, Mishael served in the IDF, directed the Israeli debating society and served as a faculty member at the Shalom Hartman Institute and the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. Mishael has been a featured scholar-in-residence in many diverse North American communities and has most recently taught at Yeshivat Hadar and the Skirball Center for Adult Education. Mishael will receive ordination later this week from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.

Mishael and Rebecca will ensure that the Fellowship program continues to explore today’s most important questions in Jewish life. Under this new leadership, BYFI is poised to expand partnerships with like-minded organizations, and offer more opportunities to the alumni community through mentoring, learning and other programming. The Co-Directors will inspire and lead a vibrant, meaningful, and pluralistic interchange among the BYFI community in North America and in Israel.