Julian Bertet (’19)
My name is Julian Bertet (he/him) and I’m from Los Angeles, CA. and am currently a freshman majoring in Political Science.
High School: I went to North Hollywood High School.
Background: My family belongs to a Conservative Synagogue in Los Angeles, but I don’t really align myself with any particular denomination of Judaism. As someone whose family heralds from both Morocco and Eastern Europe, my Jewishness is constant and reflects a variety of traditions.
Relationship to Judaism in high school: In high school, Judaism seemed stagnant to me: I never made any effort to pursue pluralism. Judaism was a religion and a duty, it was a privilege that my ancestors were persecuted for practicing.
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: In high school, I was involved with choir and Model United Nations.
Most interesting class you’ve taken in college so far: Sociology of the Family, an analysis of different sociological factors shaping family construction in the United States.
One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: I think that Bronfman helped me understand my place in and relationship to Judaism and I would encourage anyone looking for an opportunity to engage with Judaism in a pluralistic setting ought to apply to the fellowship.
Laila Brustin (’20)
High School: Nashville School of the Arts
Background: I identify as queer, use she/they pronouns, and am from Nashville, Tennessee. I grew up in a conservative Jewish setting, but after leaving Jewish day school I was both homeschooled and home-shuled. Most of my current Jewish activities revolve around the LGBTQ+ Jewish organization Keshet, and when I’m visiting family in Los Angeles, participating in Holiday and Shabbat programs at IKAR, a pluralistic Jewish community.
Three terms to describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: Home based; Difficult to find a community that fit well; Meaningful.
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Visual arts and journaling. Participating in the pluralistic LGBTQ+ Jewish youth program, Keshet. Volunteering with the Tennessee Holocaust Commission
Most interesting class you’ve taken in college thus far (or your favorite class in high school): In high school I took two classes called AP Seminar and AP Research. In them I learned research skills and was able to apply them to various projects. During my senior year in AP Research I worked on my own year-long project. My research question for it was: “How can implementing nonbinary resources and representation into American public high schools help alleviate mental health issues and promote school-wide allyship?” Being able to pursue my interests and interact with non binary students across the United States was an interesting and enriching experience.
One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: To meet students from entirely different backgrounds who want to have conversations with you! For personal development, to create lasting friendships, to learn many new things. To have an incredible experience doing all of it.
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk to prospective applicants about: I would love to talk about the general experience of each seminar, what kinds of learning and programs happen, How I changed from the fellowship experience, and examples of conversations that came up during my fellowship year. I am also happy to answer any questions or concerns the applicant may have, or to put them in touch with someone who may know more.
Eli Buchdahl (’19)
I just started college after a gap year (not in Israel, actually, which I’m happy to talk about), and am currently taking all seminars, in large part because in content and form I wanted intellectual experiences like that of Bronfman.
Last year I was in South Korea, studying the language and developing a stronger relationship with my Korean identity – as someone who presents as fully white, it will be lost unless I choose to value it.
High School: I attended the Heschel School, a pluralistic Jewish day school in New York City, from kindergarten through high school.
Background: I’m an observant Reform Jew (which, as I see it, is not an oxymoron) with Ashkenazi and Korean roots. Politically, I was considered to the left in my day school community, but likely wouldn’t have been at many high schools, especially others in NYC – I’m closer to Democratic party line than its progressive wing.
Three words to describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: Textual, spiritual, joyous.
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: A few things I deeply cared about in high school were my school’s Mock Trial, basketball and baseball teams, along with classical piano practice and performance.
One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: Anyone should apply to Bronfman if they would like to participate in a challenging yet powerful formation of community, where differences can create tension but mutual respect, admiration, (and Judaism!) hold us together.
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk to prospective applicants about: I’d love to talk about the learning and day structure (i.e., what we actually do), talk about the cohort and community, talk to anyone who feels they wouldn’t fit in for any reason (politically, for one), and/or talk about overall, what makes it such a great way to spend a summer.
Lillian Glushka (’18)
High School: Athens Academy in Athens, GA
Background: I identify as culturally Jewish and am from an interfaith background. My pronouns are she/her. I am also a dual Canada/US citizen, but identify most strongly with my American roots.
Relationship to Judaism in high school: Cultural, distant but curious, a feeling rather than a practice.
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Aerial dance (trapeze and silks) & music.
Title of most interesting class taken in college so far: Popular Music after 1945.
One reason someone should apply to Bronfman: The friendships that are made. I met peers I otherwise wouldn’t have crossed paths with and connected deeply with them across different experiences and backgrounds.
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk about: Going into the experience feeling distant from/confused about one’s Jewish identity, without a strong Jewish community at home, and/or with very little knowledge of Jewish rituals or concepts; if anyone feels like they struggle with contributing to large group discussions; any other questions or concerns!
Judah Guggenheim (’19)
High School: I attended Berman Hebrew Academy in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Background: I grew up on the liberal-end of Modern Orthodoxy, participating regularly in my synagogue and local partnership minyan. I really appreciated my warm community, and I felt connected to my home and school environments.
Relationship to Judaism in high school: Committed. Open-minded. Seeking to understand and not take for granted.
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Chidon HaTanach (Bible competition). Debate Team. Hiking and running in nature.
Title of most interesting class taken in college so far: My favorite class so far in college is the Integrated Science Curriculum (more or less what it sounds like – an interdisciplinary approach to chem, bio, and physics, with a bit of computer science thrown in).
One reason someone should apply to Bronfman: One reason (of many) to apply for Bronfman is to connect and make friends with the incredible, kind, and diverse people that make up the Bronfman community.
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk about: I would love to talk to prospective applicants about questions in life that they are hoping to explore on the Fellowship!
Rachel Leykin (’19)
High School: Morris Knolls High School (Rockaway, NJ)
Background: I’m a Russian-Israeli Jew who would best describe herself as a “Jew-ish woman”. I don’t identify with a specific denomination, but my practice is closest to that of the Reconstructionist movement with a strong emphasis on Israel.
Three words to describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: Distant, Shameful, Confusing
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Running, playing bass, making art.
Most interesting class you’ve taken in college so far: Depicting the Divine (critical analysis of religious images and primary texts)
One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: If you feel excited about asking yourself critical questions and completely changing the way you see the world, Bronfman is for you.
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk to prospective applicants about: Faculty-fellow bonds, community living, and the alumni community.
Sam Libenson (’20)
High School: Kenwood Academy High School
Background: I’m from Hyde Park in Chicago, Illinois, where I went to a Jewish day school through 6th grade and my local public school from 7th grade through high school. I’ve belonged to a conservative synagogue for the past 15 years, but I don’t consider myself as belonging to any particular denomination.
Three words to describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: Searching, community, scattered
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Ballet, Debate, Best Buddies
Most interesting class you’ve taken in college so far (or your favorite class in high school): Existentialism in Literature and Film
One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: Bronfman does such a great job at cultivating a community that at the end of your six week fellowship, you’ll feel like you knew your peers for years.
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk to prospective applicants about: Social/community, diversity (religious, ethnic, etc.), learning
Rebecca Roth (’18)
High School: The Frisch School in Paramus, NJ- a Modern-Orthodox Yeshiva Day School. I also attended Beit Midrash Migdal Oz in Israel during a gap year before college.
Background: I attended Modern-Orthodox day school K-12 but I went to a Chabad synagogue my entire life which has allowed my Judaism to develop with many different influences. I am strongly connected to my Judaism, politically conservative, and a Zionist.
Three words that describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: Important, unquestioned, central to my identity.
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Softball and history.
Title of the most interesting class you’ve taken in college thus far: The Most Sacred of All Property- The Philosophical Case for Protecting Religious Liberty
One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: Bronfman provides you with the opportunity to have deep, thought-provoking conversations with people from different backgrounds than your own.
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk about: What to expect day to day, how to deal with having the minority opinion in many conversations, and being an observant Modern-Orthodox Jew on Bronfman.
Sara Ryave (’18)
Hometown: Cerritos, CA
High School: Whitney High School
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Key Club, National History Club, varsity cross country and track teams. An avid lover of all things history and politics, she participated in her school’s History and Quiz Bowl teams.
More info about Sara to come!
Abigail Sylvor Greenberg (’19)
High School: I attended The Brearley School, which is an independent all-girls school in Manhattan.
Background: I grew up in New York City in a politically progressive family which was somewhat Jewishly observant (Kosher, synagogue-going) but was not affiliated with any major Jewish denomination. I attended zionist summer camps my entire life, studied at The Heschel School through eighth grade, and transferred to a non-parochial all-girls school for high school. Last year, I deferred college and lived in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Three words that describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: Social-justice oriented; Spiritual; Cultural
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: I edited the newspaper and yearbook. I co-founded and ran my school’s student-led diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative. I did tech theater.
Title of the most interesting class you’ve taken in college thus far: The bulk of my course load right now is in Yale’s Directed Studies program, an introduction to the great texts of the Western canon in literature, historical/political thought, and philosophy. This week, I’m writing a political analysis of Moses’ state-building efforts in Exodus.
One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: Bronfman totally restored my love of learning for its own sake, which the pressures of high school had dampened somewhat. And perhaps more importantly, I met the best people on the planet. My best friends and most important mentors to this day are those I met during my fellowship year.
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk about: I am happy to talk about what the learning actually looks like, (text study is an intimidating proposition!) and about the social/residential component. I’d be particularly interested in talking to students from non-Jewish independent schools (esp. all-girls!), and kids who left day school and are wary of stepping back into formal Jewish education. I’d also love to talk to people who are concerned or curious about the politics of traveling to Israel & the fellowship’s approach to educating on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.