The Bronfman Fellowship is now accepting applications for the 34th year of the program. Twenty-six outstanding North American teenagers will be selected for an intellectually challenging year of seminars beginning with a free, five-week trip to Israel in the summer between the their junior and senior years of high school. The program educates and inspires exceptional young Jews from diverse backgrounds to have a significant impact on the world as community builders, deep thinkers, moral voices, and cultural creators. The program was founded by Edgar M. Bronfman, z”l, formerly CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. and a visionary Jewish philanthropist.
During the program’s seminars, the Fellows meet with leading intellectuals, religious and political leaders, and educators, such as Israeli writer Etgar Keret, journalist and author Matti Friedman, and biblical scholar Avivah Zornberg. With the guidance of a diverse faculty of Rabbis and educators, the pluralistic group of Fellows have the opportunity to explore a wide range of Jewish texts, from classic religious works to contemporary Israeli and American voices, using them to spark conversations, engage with stimulating existential questions, and achieve a deeper understanding of themselves and one another.
Fellows also interact with a group of Israeli peers who were chosen through a parallel selection process by the Israeli branch of the Fellowship, Amitei Bronfman. Upon returning home from the summer in Israel, Fellows continue their Fellowship year experience with monthly virtual experiences and a Spring seminar in the United States focusing on major themes in North American Jewish life.
Alumni of The Bronfman Fellowship are leaders in their community, playing key roles in fields such as social justice, academia, law, and the arts. There are now over 1,200 Bronfman Fellowship alumni across North America and Israel. Among them are 8 Rhodes Scholars, 4 former Supreme Court clerks, 18 Fulbright Scholars, 35 Wexner Fellows and 27 Dorot Fellows. Leaders of note among Fellowship alumni include Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, author of the best-selling Series of Unfortunate Events children’s books; Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything Is Illuminated; and Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl, the first woman to be named Senior Rabbi at New York’s Central Synagogue and the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a rabbi and cantor. Others include Anne Dreazen, Director for Iraq Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense; Dara Horn, author of A Guide for the Perplexed; Itamar Moses, Tony award-winner for The Band’s Visit; and Anya Kamenetz, lead education blogger at NPR and one of the youngest people ever nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Alumni also include entrepreneurial Jewish leaders who have founded organizations like Keshet, Sefaria, and YidLife Crisis, and serve in central leadership roles at major organizations like The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, the Jewish Women’s Archive, Central Synagogue, Hillel International and The Foundation for Jewish Camp, to name a few.
Israeli alumni have also ascended to positions of influence in government, civil groups, the private sector and cultural institutions. Amitei Bronfman alumni include attorneys at the State Justice Department, noted journalists, successful filmmakers (including a Tribeca Film Festival winner), political advisers to Members of Knesset, members of elite IDF units and university lecturers.
Fellows have found that participation in The Fellowship has helped them in their college application process. More than 50% of Fellows go on to attend Ivy League universities.
Applications for the 2020 Fellowship are due December 1, 2019, and are available online at bronfman.org. High school students in the United States and Canada who self-identify as Jewish and who will be in the twelfth grade in the fall of 2020 are eligible to apply. The Fellowship is a pluralistic program for Jews of all backgrounds; prior Jewish education is not required. Students are chosen on merit alone.