Recent Alumni Profiles

We invite prospective applicants to fill out this form to speak to one of the recent Fellows below! 

Conversations and questions are confidential and will not have an impact on the selection process.

 
Yoni Altman-Shafer (’17)

My name is Yoni Altman-Shafer (he/him/his), and I’m a sophomore at the George Washington University, where I study International Relations and Arabic and Hebrew Languages and Cultures.

High School: I went to Nicolet High School, my local public school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (anyone who knows me knows I’m a proud Midwesterner).

Background: I grew up fairly observant and attending services at my local Chabad, though I don’t identify as a Chabadnik (or within any denomination, really). I’m passionate about many things, from geography to linguistics to philosophy, though I would say that Judaism is most central to who I am. I have a strong sense of connection to Israel, further developed by my gap year in Jerusalem.

Relationship to Judaism in high school: I would have described my relationship to Judaism as being family-oriented, thought-provoking, and endlessly ambiguous. Those foundations haven’t changed; I would say that the only difference is that they’ve been enriched and nuanced by experiences like Bronfman and my gap year (which was also pluralistic).

Hobbies/ interests: My free time is entirely taken up by our hiking group and Camp Kesem.

Favorite class taken in college so far: My favorite class at GW I’ve taken so far was called “The Death of God.”

One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: If you’re looking for a community of thinkers and dreamers, people who see the world just a bit more vividly, then don’t hesitate to apply. No matter your Jewish background or level of observance, you’ll learn more about our people than you could have possibly imagined.

Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk to prospective applicants about: I’d be happy to talk about anything related to Bronfman. I think I could definitely connect to applicants coming from outside of the tri-state area/California, and would also be able to answer questions about what it’s like to be with the Amitim (Israeli Fellows), how Shabbat observance works, and other such things. But I’d be more than willing to answer any question. 

 
Andrew Arking (’16)

High School: Beth Tfiloh near Baltimore, MD.
Also went to Orayta Yeshiva in Jerusalem before college.

Background: I’m an observant Sephardic Jew. I love thinking about the relationship between moral philosophy, the epistemology of the Jewish legal tradition, and the contents of the Torah and other Jewish sources.

Words that describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: Family, tradition, finding a synthesis of religious and secular thought.

Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Medicine, debating politics, and playing frisbee.

Most interesting class you’ve taken in college so far: Science in a Global Context.

One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: The people are awesome.

Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk to prospective applicants about: Anything is fine. I had a blast!

 
Syd Bakal (’17)

High School: I attended Barrington HS, in Barrington, IL.

Background: I identify as Jewish (Reform), non-binary, queer, and white. 

Three words to describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: curious, defining, and musical.

Favorite high school hobbies/interests: A cappella, theatre, GSA at my high school.

Most interesting class you’ve taken in college so far: “Food, Identity, and Desire” is the title of my most interesting class at Yale so far.

One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: To have a life-changing experience making intellectual and intimate friendships and exploring your own relationship to Judaism.

Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk to prospective applicants about: Happy to talk about queerness or non-binary/trans* stuff — also happy to talk about music and Reform.

 
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, but I don’t align myself with any particular denomination of Judaism. I’m a gay, Franco-American, Moroccan-Ashkenazi Jew and navigating those divides have been hallmarks of my identity.

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.

 
Eli Buchdahl (’19)

I’m 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 am a secular Jewish woman from an interfaith background, born and raised in Athens, GA (home of R.E.M.!) 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 aerial silks at a local studio, teaching children at the same studio) & Music (playing piano, singing).

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 even crossed paths with, and learned so much about connection 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 voicing their opinions or speaking in large groups, or if they have any general concerns about what is expected of them going into it

 
Rachel Kaufman (’17)

High School: Boise High School

Background: I  am a reform Jew and my pronouns are they/she. I am  a graphic design student at the Kansas City Art Institute. 

Three words to describe your relationship to Judaism  in high school: Heavily influence by my parents, NFTY, connected to nature.

Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Skateboarding, painting, yoga.

Title of the most interesting class you’ve taken in college so far: Zero Waste Workshop: a workshop about design thinking in relation to having a zero-waste art practice. 

One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: To learn more about communicating with people who are different from you.

Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk to prospective applicants about: The influence Bronfman has had on me three years later; how to get the most out of your experience in Bronfman.

 
Sakura Price (’17)

High School: Harvard-Westlake (L.A.)

Background: My mom is Japanese and my dad is Jewish. I grew up attending IKAR, a non denominational shul in LA.

Relationship to Judaism in high school: involved/committed, flexible, sometimes insecure.

Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Art history, theater, poetry.

Most interesting college class so far: One Text, Many Angles: The Merchant of Venice.

One reason you should apply to Bronfman: I’ve met some of my best friends to this day through Bronfman. I was also challenged in ways I’d never been challenged before. I think Bronfman really reshaped my understanding of my own Jewishness and taught me how to engage with people who think very differently than I do. Plus I was constantly stimulated by all the text studies/discussions and had such a great time exploring Israel.

Aspects of Bronfman you’d especially like to talk about: Interfaith experience, Jews of Color on Bronfman.

 
Rebecca Roth (’18)

High School: The Frisch School in NJ.
Also attended Beit Midrash Migdal Oz in Israel before college.

Background: I grew up in NYC in a modern-Orthodox household and identify as politically conservative. I just returned from a gap year in Israel at an Israeli seminary and am currently in my first year at Princeton University.

Three words that describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: Important, unquestioned, central to my identity.

Favorite high school hobbies/interests: Yearbook, softball, History. 

Title of the most interesting class you’ve taken in college thus far: Pandemic Pedagogy.

One reason you think someone should apply to Bronfman: I think that Bronfman provides you with the opportunity to have deep, thought-provoking conversations with people from different backgrounds than your own.

 

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 NYC in a politically progressive, zionist family which was somewhat Jewishly observant (Kosher, synagogue-going) but was post-denominational (not affiliated with any major Jewish movement). I attended The Heschel School through eighth grade and transferred to a non-parochial all-girls school for high school; I really liked both experiences!

Three words that describe your relationship to Judaism in high school: Social-justice oriented; Spiritual (though inconsistently so); Cultural (important identifier at my high school)

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: I’m on a gap year in Israel right now, so I haven’t yet taken a college class. However, I am loving a class I am taking at the Pardes Institute called “Striving for The Divine.”

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.) I can also talk about the social/residential component or the Israel experience. 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 can also speak to the female experience in the fellowship, as an alum passionate about egalitarian Jewish practice.