The Bronfman Fellowship has selected its 34th cohort of intellectually curious 11th-graders from across North America, among them the founder of a national online tutoring organization that works with underserved students; a young physicist who has worked on programming to help model human brain networks; and a saxophone player who has performed at venues including Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and Lincoln Center.
The 26 Fellows, chosen from over 270 applicants, will participate in a transformative Fellowship-year experience of study and conversation centered around pluralism, social responsibility and Jewish texts. They also interact with a group of Israeli peers who were chosen through a parallel selection process as part of the Israeli Fellowship, Amitei Bronfman. The new class of Fellows will join a vibrant alumni network that includes some of today’s most exciting Jewish writers, thinkers and leaders.
For the past 33 years, the Fellowship year has begun with a five-week immersive summer in Israel. Due to the global pandemic, The Bronfman Fellowship will conduct its programming virtually until in-person meetings are deemed safe. The reconfigured Fellowship year aims to provide maximal opportunity for the Fellows to learn together, get to know one another, and delve deeply into a rich tapestry of Jewish ideas and perspectives.
The Bronfman Fellowship was founded in 1987 by Edgar M. Bronfman, z”l, formerly CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. and a visionary Jewish philanthropist. Mr. Bronfman passed away in December 2013.
Following a competitive application process, the 2020 Fellows are from 12 states and represent a wide range of Jewish backgrounds, including Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Just Jewish and secularly/culturally Jewish.
The Fellowship promotes the study of Jewish texts, traditions, history and culture as a way for Fellows to engage with each other and the world. The Fellows will study with an esteemed faculty, including Jake Marmer, Education and Programming Director of The Bronfman Fellowship, author of two poetry collections, and contributing editor/poetry critic for Tablet Magazine; Rabbi Dr. Vanessa Ochs, professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies Program at the University of Virginia; Rabbi Dr. Micha’el Rosenberg, associate professor of Rabbinics and member of the tenured faculty of Hebrew College; Rabbanit Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld, Manhiga Ruchanit (female spiritual leader) in Efrat, Israel; and Arielle Tonkin, an artist and Museum Educator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.
Alumni of The Bronfman Fellowship are community builders, deep thinkers, moral voices, and cultural creators. There are now over 1300 Bronfman Fellowship alumni across North America and Israel. Among them are 7 Rhodes Scholars, 4 former Supreme Court clerks, 18 Fulbright Scholars, 36 Wexner Fellows and 27 Dorot Fellows. Alumni also include entrepreneurial Jewish leaders who have founded organizations like the Kavana Cooperative, 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. Israeli 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.