Bronfman Youth Fellowships Celebrates 25 Years

The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel (BYFI), a highly selective Jewish fellowship program , is celebrating its 25th anniversary this weekend.

Founded under the vision and leadership of Edgar M. Bronfman, The Bronfman Fellowships began in 1987 as a leadership program for promising Jewish 17-year-olds representing a variety of Jewish backgrounds. “We were founded as the premier summer program for American teens,” says Rabbi Mishael Zion, a co-Director of the program; “but after educating a generation of Jewish leaders responsible for some of the most creative innovations in American Jewish life, we see ourselves as a community of adult leaders who inspire and support each other in our various endeavors.”

Notable alumni include writers Jonathan Safran Foer, Dara Horn, and Daniel Handler; journalists Anya Kamenetz, the youngest person ever nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her Village Voice series “Generation Debt: The New Economics of Being Young”; Adam Davidson, NPR business correspondent and NYT Magazine Columnist, and Jonathan Tepperman, Managing Editor of Foreign Affairs; and influential Jewish leaders such as Idit Klein, Executive Director of Keshet; Rabbi Dan Smokler, of the NYU Bronfman Center and Hillel International; and Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum, from The Kavanah Cooperative. Bronfman Youth Fellowships alumni include 8 Rhodes Scholars, 4 Supreme Court clerks, 11 Fulbright Scholars, 25 Wexner Fellows and 21 Dorot Fellows. Their 2011 applicant to fellow ratio was 12:1, whereas Yale’s was 14:1 and Harvard’s 16:1.

Today, in recognition of the 25th Anniversary, eJewish Philanthropy is pleased to publish a special series of posts written by members of the BYFI Community, for eJP, in celebration of the organization’s anniversary.

To date, Bronfman Youth Fellowships alumni number 675 North American participants and 300 Israeli participants, many of whom participate in the fellowship’s nationally recognized peer-to-peer grant making initiative, the BYFI Alumni Venture Fund.