Fill out this short form to have a one-on-one conversation with one of these recent Fellows.
Julian Bertet (’19)
My name is Julian Bertet (he/him) and I’m from Los Angeles, CA, and am currently a sophomore 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.
Josh Bock (’20)
High School: Scarsdale High School, NY
Background: I am a Reform Jew from the northeast, which in my experience can feel like a bit of a cookie-cutter identity, but as it turns out we come in all different types of cookie shapes.
3 terms that describe your relationship to Judaism when you were in high school: Cultural, community-oriented; not spiritual.
Favorite high school hobbies/interests or activities: Playing hockey, comedy writing, comedy watching.
Title of the most interesting class you’ve taken in college thus far (or your favorite class in high school): Writing the American Essay
One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: Bronfman is an intellectual community for life — one that I engage with every single day, literally (including, as of this writing, 90 minutes ago). That is extraordinarily special and hard to come by.
What aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk to prospective applicants about:
How I experienced the fellowship as a less religious fellow.
Bronfman after Bronfman — how the program continues to change my life after high school.
The creative community I found in Bronfman, both within and outside of the official curriculum.
Laila Brustin (’20)
High School: Nashville School of the Arts
Background: I 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 Hillel at Wellesley college and with the LGBTQ+ Jewish organization Keshet.
Three terms to describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: Home based & Meaningful; Difficult to find community.
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Visual arts, journaling, volunteering with the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, and fostering dogs.
Most interesting class you’ve taken in college thus far (or your favorite class in high school): Some of the most interesting classes I have taken have been sociology-oriented. Two of my favorites at Wellesley College have been “Marriage and Families” and “Understanding and Improving Schools.” In these courses my peers and I put words to previous experiences, learn in depth about the institutions we have been a part of, and explore the ways in which we can create a more equitable future.
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)
Last year I started college after a gap year (not in Israel, actually, which I’m happy to talk about). I took all seminars, in large part because in content and form I wanted intellectual experiences like that of Bronfman.
Two years ago 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.
Katje Bulthuis (’21)
High School: Logan High School, Utah
Background: I grew up in rural Utah and converted to Judaism as a teenager.
Relationship to Judaism in high school:New, Homecoming, Chosen Family
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: I was heavily involved with my high school’s German and Theatre programs.
Title of most interesting class taken in college so far: In high school, I chose to take AP Psychology and loved it! It was a new way to explore my interests in linguistics, and sparked an interest in neuroscience, especially as it pertains to drug use and recovery.
One reason someone should apply to Bronfman: My Utah shul is very much an extension of my family. That being said, there were a lot of aspects of Jewish community that I felt were missing from my life. My friends from the fellowship introduced me to new practices, ideas, and ways of thinking, and we are still close today. I fell even further in love with Judaism and various Jewish practices (which I didn’t think possible, as I already loved it so much).
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk about: I am open to talking to fellows who are coming to Bronfman from what might feel like an unconventional path. I can speak well to the experience of coming from a rural background and an interfaith family.
Beverly Cohen (’21)
High School: The Marlborough School, CA
Background: I was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up Modern Orthodox. I am a member of the Muscogee (Creek) nation and currently a student at Wellesley College.
Relationship to Judaism in high school: Freeing, connective, academic
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Political activism, Community outreach/volunteering, Mental health advocacy, Theater
Title of most interesting class taken in high school or college so far: Jesus of Nazareth religious seminar
One reason someone should apply to Bronfman: Bronfman was an incredible experience- I felt that I had never met so many young Jews so excited about practicing in a way that is individually meaningful to them. Being at Bronfman allowed me to further understand what I wanted out of my Jewish identity as I become more independent.
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk about: Queer community at Bronfman, Jews of Color community at Bronfman, religious exploration/identity
Devorah Feder (’20)
High School: Maimonides High School, a Modern-Orthodox Jewish day school.
Background: I grew up in a Modern-Orthodox Jewish community in Sharon, MA and attended Jewish day schools through 12th grade. Last year, I took a gap year in Israel at Midreshet Ein Hanatziv, an Israeli progressive and feminist religious seminary. At this point, I wouldn’t label myself with any particular denomination of Judaism, but I live a very Jewishly involved and observant life.
Relationship to Judaism in high school: intellectually stimulating, patriarchal, frustrating
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Playing on my school’s basketball and tennis teams; competing in Moot Beit Din/Moot Court Competitions; volunteering in the art studio of a Boston shelter.
Title of most interesting class taken in college so far: Painting Basics, a class I’m taking now that I absolutely love.
One reason someone should apply to Bronfman: To put your life and experiences into conversation with the lives of other Jewishly-minded and critically-thinking peers.
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk about: The wonderful community and social environment; the unique relationships with Bronfman faculty/staff; finding yourself Jewishly in a religiously pluralistic group and what that pluralism looks and feels like.
Eva Hecht (’21)
High School: University Preparatory School
Background: Grew up in Redding, CA. Now attending University of California Santa Cruz.
More to come!
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 Rosen (’22)
High School: Lakehill Preparatory School, TX
Background: I am a wasian reform Jew from Dallas, Tx. I tend to lean to the center left on most political views and I love movies.
Relationship to Judaism in high school: Community, Tradition/family/history, grounding
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Thrifting, Track & Field, Rock Climbing
Title of most interesting class taken in college so far: Modern Black History
One reason someone should apply to Bronfman: Bronfman provided a supportive environment in which I was able to learn about a side of Judaism I never knew existed. Also free food, housing, and travel.
Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk about: The time that we spend not learning.
Abigail Sylvor Greenberg (’19)
High School: The Brearley School (an independent all-girls school), NY
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 Jewish denomination. I attended Zionist summer camps my entire life, studied at The Heschel School through eighth grade, and transferred to secular private school for high school. I spent a gap year in Jerusalem & Tel Aviv.
Three words that describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: Social-justice oriented; Spiritual; Cultural
Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Student publications; diversity, equity & inclusion work; theater & theater tech.
Title of the most interesting class you’ve taken in college thus far: Advanced Nonfiction Writing: At Home in America
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. 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 site-specific approach.