Commonly Asked Questions
We seek to identify Fellows who represent the widest possible range of Jewish affiliation, background and observance. Some Fellows are religiously observant and attend Jewish day schools, others have never had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah or consider themselves atheist. We welcome applications from anyone who is interested in serious discussion and exploration of what Jewishness means for him/herself and for others. There is no religious requirement for the program other than that you self-identify as Jewish.
Yes, we have Fellows from interfaith families.
Our program allows for participants to maintain their Sabbath observance and all meals are Kosher.
No, we want as diverse a group of Fellows as possible, including those who have gone to a Jewish camp for years and those who do not identify with any particular denomination.
We look for participants who have a strong academic background, leadership potential, intellectual curiosity, emotional maturity, and an interest in exploring his/her Jewish background.
Each year we choose 26 Fellows, usually 13 boys and 13 girls.
We have Fellows from all over the United States and Canada. Fellows have a range of educational backgrounds including those who attend public school, private school, and some who attend private Jewish high schools.
You must be entering the twelfth grade of school in the Fall of 2017 and be born before July 1st, 2001.
Yes. Some Fellows have been to Israel before either with their families or through an organized program.
We ask for two (2) short essays and one (1) long essay of 500 words, two (2) letters of recommendation from individuals who know you well (at least one of which must be from a guidance counselor, school principal or teacher) and your high school transcript through Grade 10. We do not require any sort of standardized test scores.
Our application is online through a webhost called ReviewRoom. To apply, fill out an interest form which begins the application process.
January 4, 2017
Candidates are notified by the end of February if they will be invited to an interview. Interviews are held in New York and California. If cost of travel is a burden, we can assist with this expense.
Fellows are selected and notified by the end of March.
No. However, each year we select several alternates from the pool of candidates interviewed in the instance that one of our selected Fellows cannot participate in the Fellowship.
Our reviewers look to the essays on our application as a way of understanding how an applicant thinks. Our best advice – use your own voice.
Recommenders should speak to your personality, both academically and socially. If they can provide examples of what makes you stand-out and their sense of your potential, this will help provide us with a full picture of you. Recommenders do not need to discuss your Jewish background or identity unless they have particular insight into this aspect of your identity.
You will be asked to put in the names and contact information for your two recommenders, who will then be contacted by Ava Charne through ReviewRoom electronically by email. They can submit their recommendations online through ReviewRoom.
For questions, call 518-475-7212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bronfman Fellowships strives to intellectually challenge our Fellows, and provides many formal and informal educational opportunities. Each weekday begins with an intensive and intimate educational seminar (Shiur, in Hebrew) facilitated by faculty members who are experienced rabbis and educators. The seminars encompass a variety of topics, selected by faculty to allow for rich debate and discussion as well as close-reading of varied texts. This past year, our seminar topics included poetry in conversation with the bible, Jewish and Palestinian nationalism, and theological variation in Jewish history. Many of the most powerful academic experiences on Bronfman come from the interaction between peers as they think about big ideas together.
Our faculty consists of professors, Rabbis, and Jewish educators with extensive experience facilitating conversations and learning with young people, including a number that have been consistently named to Newsweek’s Top 50 Rabbis list. In addition, Fellows are accompanied by two alumni who are there to provide support, lead additional conversation sessions, and maintain security.
After the end of the Summer Fellowship, your experience with The Bronfman Fellowships continues through a year of learning, seminars, and additional projects. The group meets twice during the school year, once in December as part of the trip our Israeli Fellows make to America and once for a weeklong seminar in New York around late March. During the senior year, Fellows complete a “Ma’aseh” or community action project, during which Fellows take an idea that they are passionate about and bring it to their home communities. A Bronfman alumnus serves as an advisor for each project, providing a further connection to the 700+ alumni community.
We cover all of our Fellows’ expenses, including their flights to Israel from JFK and their food, lodging, and travel over the summer. Fellows are asked to pay a small fee to offset the costs of the two follow-up seminars. Financial need is never a barrier to participation and subsidies are available for travel to the interviews, to JFK for the start of Fellowship and for Fellowship Year programming and travel.
We constantly review our itinerary in light of security considerations and keep in close contact with the Israeli security forces and the American Embassy. Fellows will always travel in the company of staff members. Our full security policy: http://bronfman.org/sites/default/files/security_document_website.pdf
Each day revolves loosely around a particular theme, such as “Language, Text, and Identity” or “The Challenges of Democracy.” To explore these topics, we bring-in headline-makings speakers and undertake relevant site visits to spark discussion. Fellows participate in college-level seminars daily, rotating classes taught by our Faculty on a variety of topics. We also ask Fellows to keep a written journal and share their writing in weekly discussion groups. Read here about a day in the life of a Bronfman Fellow, and see our summer itinerary for a more detailed schedule.
Our Fellows will see a variety of Israel’s archaeological, religious, and important sites, including Masada, Jerusalem’s old city, and Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Museum). We will also spend time in Tel Aviv, Tsfat, and the Negev desert along with many other interesting spots.
Fellows are housed in dormitory-style accommodations with four Fellows per room. There are separate hallways for boys and for girls. We have a small kitchen and multiple common spaces available for the Fellows’ use.
All of our meals are Kosher.
We accommodate all dietary restrictions to the best of our ability, and are happy to consult with each Fellow to ensure that their needs are met.
We encourage our Fellows’ passions and are happy to accommodate any practice that they feel they need to continue during the summer. There are running routes close to where we stay and there are periods of free time where practice is possible. We have even encouraged serious instrumentalists to rent equipment for musical practice.
Our curriculum does not require Fellows to pray daily. However, we can make arrangements for interested Fellows to attend daily prayer services while the group is situated in Jerusalem.
We strive to make the Sabbath a comfortable and meaningful experience for all of our Fellows. We are fully Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath observant) and do not travel on Shabbat. We have a communal dinner on Friday evening and our staff members escort groups of Fellows to various prayer options. On Saturdays, Fellows can visit local synagogues and eat a casual lunch at Faculty member’s apartments.
Bronfman runs a parallel Fellowship in Israel called Amitei Bronfman for young Israelis in their junior year of high school. We select a cohort of teens from diverse backgrounds to participate in a Fellowship year made up of eight seminars, one of which involves a trip to the US. The American and Israeli Fellows come together in the middle of the summer for a week for an educational seminar (mifgash). Fellows spend a weekend in a homestay with an Israeli Fellow.