The Bronfman Fellowship is now accepting applications for its 36th cohort. The fellowship chooses 26 outstanding North American teenagers for an intellectually challenging year that begins with a free summer in Israel between junior and senior years of high school, followed by monthly virtual experiences and two seminars in the United States. The program educates and inspires young Jews from diverse backgrounds to have an impact on the world as community builders, deep thinkers, moral voices, and cultural creators.
The Bronfman Fellowship, founded by the late Edgar M. Bronfman, formerly CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. and a visionary Jewish philanthropist 36 years ago, has helped build a pluralistic community through transformative, intellectual, and personal journeys for its fellows whereby they have the chance to see the world through a broader lens. Inspired by a faculty of acclaimed rabbis and educators, fellows explore a wide range of Jewish texts, from classic religious works to contemporary poetry and philosophy, using these sources to spark conversations, engage with stimulating existential questions, and achieve a deeper understanding of themselves and one another.
In addition, fellows have the chance to engage with intellectuals, artists, and religious and cultural leaders. Past speakers included journalist Matti Friedman; author Nicole Krauss; musician and Yiddish scholar Anthony Russell; and Torah scholar Dr. Avivah Zornberg.
The students 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. They participate in the Fellowship’s arts tracks: workshops in areas including poetry, dance, drama, visual narrative, and music, taught by leading innovators in the field of Jewish art. Upon returning home from Israel, they also explore major themes in North American Jewish life.
There are more than 1,300 Bronfman Fellowship alumni across North America and Israel and include leaders in social justice, academia, law, and the arts. Among them are 7 Rhodes Scholars, 4 former Supreme Court clerks, 19 Fulbright Scholars, 37 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 the Levant at the Department 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 nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Alumni also include entrepreneurial Jewish leaders who have founded organizations such as 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.
“My father, Edgar M. Bronfman, placed enormous faith in young people’s ability to see the world not just as it is, but as it ought to be,” said Adam R. Bronfman, president of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation. “He believed that young people energized by their Judaism were best equipped to both shape a Jewish ‘Renaissance’ and improve the world.”
Applications for the 2022 Fellowship are due December 8, 2021 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 11th grade in the fall of 2021 are eligible to apply. The Fellowship is a pluralistic program for Jews of all backgrounds; prior Jewish education is not required.