Intellectually Curious High School Students from Diverse Jewish Backgrounds to Study Together
and Join a Dynamic Community of North American and Israeli Leaders
New York, NY- August 2023. The Bronfman Fellowship is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 38th cohort of this transformative program. The Fellowship selects twenty-six outstanding North American teenagers for a free, intellectually challenging year of programming, beginning with an immersive seminar that includes travel to Israel and the U.S. between the Fellows’ junior and senior years of high school, followed by monthly virtual experiences and two additional seminars in the U.S. 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 nonprofit Fellowship was founded by Edgar M. Bronfman, z”l, formerly CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. and a visionary Jewish philanthropist.
Applications for the 2024 Fellowship are due December 4, 2023, 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 2023 are eligible to apply. The Fellowship is a pluralistic program for Jews of all backgrounds; prior Jewish education is not required.
For 38 years, Bronfman Fellows have built a pluralistic community through a transformative, intellectual and deeply personal journey in which they have the opportunity to see the world through a lens broader than their own. Fellows expand their perspectives as they build community with those representing different backgrounds, worldviews, and approaches to Jewish life and practice. Inspired by a stellar faculty of 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 to learning with stellar educators, Fellows also have the unique opportunity to engage with leading intellectuals, artists, and religious and cultural leaders. Past speakers have included journalist Matti Friedman; author Nicole Krauss; musician and Yiddish scholar Anthony Russell; and Torah scholar Dr. Avivah Zornberg.
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. Additionally, they have the opportunity to participate in the Fellowship’s recently introduced 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 the summer in the U.S. and Israel, Fellows explore major themes in North American Jewish life and embark on projects to bridge the ideas and questions from their Bronfman summer with their daily lives and home communities.
“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.”
“The Fellowship is an opportunity for dynamic personal and intellectual growth in a group of carefully chosen peers,” said Becky Voorwinde, CEO. “We seek to increase communication between young people across the Jewish spectrum including fostering bonds between Jews in North America and Israel. This program serves as a creative force that has inspired some of our best Jewish young adults to become leaders in their communities.”
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 1,400 Bronfman Fellowship alumni across North America and Israel. Among them are 9 Rhodes Scholars, 4 former Supreme Court clerks, 20 Fulbright Scholars, 36 Wexner Fellows and 29 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 Rachel Nussbaum, Rabbi and co-founder of the pluralistic Jewish community, the Kavana Cooperative, in Seattle. Others include Judy Batalion, author of The Light of Days; Anne Dreazen, Director for Egypt, Israel and the Levant at the Department of Defense; Itamar Moses, Tony award-winner for The Band’s Visit; and Rabbi Deborah Sacks Mintz, Director of Tefillah and Music at Hadar. 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.
Our 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.
About The Bronfman Fellowship
The Bronfman Fellowship, the foremost program for outstanding young Jews, taps twenty-six North American teenagers at a formative point in their lives, the year before college, when an intense, immersive experience will have the most impact. The Fellowship is an opportunity unlike any other: a space where young people who want to see the world through a lens broader than their own can explore issues with depth, candor, and joy, while forming friendships to last a lifetime. Fellows wrestle with major issues in contemporary Jewish life, meet some of today’s most influential figures, and expand their perspectives as they build community with those representing different backgrounds, worldviews, and approaches to Jewish life and practice. The year begins with an immersive summer study program that takes place in the U.S. and Israel and includes an encounter with a parallel cadre of outstanding Israeli teenagers. Programming continues throughout Fellows’ senior year of high school with a series of lively in-person and virtual seminars, gatherings, and projects. Upon graduating high school, the Fellows join an alumni community that has become a model for lifelong engagement, as Bronfman alumni continue to exchange ideas and inspire one another to contribute their talents, vision, and creativity to the Jewish community and the world. The Fellowship, now in its 38th year, was founded in 1987 by Edgar M. Bronfman, z”l, and reflects Mr. Bronfman’s early and impassioned belief that for the Jewish people to thrive, Israeli and American Jews from a variety of backgrounds must be engaged in open and creative discourse with one another. The alumni embody Mr. Bronfman’s vision that young people who are enriched and energized by their Judaism are poised to contribute not only to Jewish life, but to improving the world.
For more information about The Bronfman Fellowship, including how to apply, please visit www.bronfman.org.
The Bronfman Fellowship
The Bronfman Fellowship nurtures intellectually curious young Jews from Israel and North America to build a more dynamic and pluralistic future.
We envision a future led by people who see the world through a lens broader than their own and who value Jewish learning as an instrument for discovery, creativity, and change.
What We Do
We thoughtfully select promising Jewish people with diverse backgrounds and identities who demonstrate the ability to be cultural creators, deep thinkers, moral voices, and community builders. By exploring the plurality of Jewish life, and by creating a rich tapestry of Jewish ideas, we build a community rooted in meaningful relationships and an expanded sense of possibility.