Albany, NY – The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel (BYFI) has announced that applications are now being accepted for the 30th year of this prestigious program.
The Bronfman Fellowships selects 26 outstanding North American teenagers for a rigorous academic year of seminars including a free, five-week trip to Israel between the summer of Fellows’ junior and senior years of high school.
The program educates and inspires exceptional young Jews from diverse backgrounds to grow into leaders grounded in their Jewish identity and committed to social change. The program was founded and is funded by Edgar M. Bronfman, z”l, formerly CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. and a visionary Jewish philanthropist.
Last year, Jacob Finke was chosen for this honor, only the third Louisvillian to make the cut. The two prior fellows were Abraham Levitan and Jacob Emont. The story about Finke’s experience can be found at jewishlouisville.org/bronfman-fellowship-proves-life-changing-experience-for-finke.
During the program’s seminars, Fellows meet with leading intellectuals, religious and political leaders, and educators, such Etgar Keret, A.B Yehoshua, Sayed Kashua and Rabbah Tamar Applebaum. The Fellows then participate in study and dialogue with a diverse faculty, which is made up of Rabbis and educators associated with different movements and perspectives within Judaism.
Fellows also spend two weeks with a group of Israeli peers who have been chosen through a parallel selection process as part of the Israeli Youth Fellowship: Amitei Bronfman. Upon returning home from the summer in Israel, Bronfman Fellows are asked to devise and lead local Jewish or social action projects.
“The Fellowship is an opportunity for dynamic personal and intellectual growth in a group of carefully chosen peers,” said Becky Voorwinde, Co-Director and Director of Strategy and Community Engagement. “The conversations Fellows begin during their Fellowship year continue for a lifetime.”
There are now over 1,000 Bronfman Fellowships alumni across North America and Israel, among them seven Rhodes Scholars, four former Supreme Court clerks, 17 Fulbright Scholars, 28 Wexner Fellows and 22 Dorot Fellows.
Young 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 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and editor of the New American Haggadah; and 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.
Fellows have found that participation in BYFI has helped them in their college application process. In the guide, What It Really Takes to Get Into Ivy League and Other Highly Selective Colleges, Chuck Hughes lists the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel first in discussing, “the top scholarship programs particularly noted for producing winners who year after year are among the strongest candidates for admissions to highly selective institutions.”
Applications for the 2016 Fellowship are due January 6 and are available online along with a recruitment video at www.bronfman.org. High school students in the United States and Canada who self-identify as Jewish and who will be in the 12th grade in the fall of 2016 are eligible to apply. BYFI is a pluralistic program for Jews of all backgrounds; prior Jewish education is not required. Students are chosen not on the basis of financial need but on merit alone.