The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel Announces 29th Application Season

Deadline: January 6, 2015

Outstanding High School Students from Diverse Jewish Backgrounds to Study in Israel and Lead Social Action Projects at Home

Albany, NY, October 2014 – The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel (BYFI) is now accepting applications for the 29th year of this prestigious program.

Each year, 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.

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 our diverse faculty, which is made up of Rabbis and educators, associated with different movements and perspectives within Judaism.

Faculty members have an intimate knowledge of Judaism in North America and Israel and have extensive experience working with emerging adults. 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.

“Edgar 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 Rabbi Mishael Zion, co-director of the Fellowships. “He believed that young people energized by their Judaism were best equipped to both shape a Jewish ‘Renaissance’ and improve the world. The Fellows each year are already a remarkable group; we have the privilege of instilling in them a love for learning Jewish texts and a commitment to pluralism and communal responsibility that will serve us all into the future.”

“We seek to increase communication between young people across the Jewish spectrum including fostering bonds between Jews in North America and Israel.” said Rabbi Mishael Zion, co-director and director of education. “This program serves as a creative force that has inspired some of our best Jewish young adults to become creative leaders in their communities.”

There are now over 1,000 Bronfman Fellowships alumni across North America and Israel, among them 8 Rhodes Scholars, 4 former Supreme Court clerks, 15 Fulbright Scholars, 27 Wexner Fellows and 21 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.

Others include: Igor Timofeyev, former Supreme Court clerk and former special advisor for refugee and asylum affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Dara Horn, author of In the Image, The World to Come and All Other Nights; and Anya Kamenetz, the youngest person ever nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her Village Voice series “Generation Debt: The New Economics of Being Young.”

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 2015 Fellowship are available online at and must be submitted online by January 6, 2015. We have an awesome new recruitment video that really tells the story of what we’re all about –  High school students in the United States and Canada who self-identify as Jewish and who will be in the twelfth grade in the fall of 2015 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

Leave a Reply