375 Series
The Samuel Bronfman Foundation NewsletterJune 2010
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In This Issue
Why Be Jewish: Engaging the Sacred
Space for the holy in modern Jewish life?
MJL Named 2009 Most Outstanding Website
BYFI Partners with Repair the World
TCI Empowers Students and Staff
Hillel Honors Avraham Infeld
NYU Recognizes Bronfman Center Leadership
Limmud FSU in the Ukraine
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A Note from Dana Raucher 

Dana Raucher
The Samuel Bronfman Foundation strives to champion leaders that dedicate their time and effort to inspiring a renaissance of Jewish life.  The leadership of many of our partners in the field took center stage over the past few months. They have been recognized with prestigious awards, have appeared repeatedly in the press for their innovative work, and have taken bold steps to increase their impact on the community and track the efficacy of their work. These achievements instill in us a sense of confidence about the future of the Jewish community and inspire our Foundation to work in support of our partners' efforts.
 
In May, the Foundation hosted its Why Be Jewish Gathering in New York City. By engaging in text-based discussions around the idea of "sacredness," the Gathering encouraged a group of committed Jewish professionals and leaders to explore both their own Jewish identities and their vision for Jewish life. You can read reflections about the gathering from Adam R. Bronfman and other participants on Jewcy.
 
Please read on to learn more about our recent work and the noteworthy accomplishments of some of our grantees.
 
Sincerely,
Dana Raucher
Executive Director
  
Why Be Jewish: Engaging the Sacred

 
Shai HeldOn May 10-11, The Samuel Bronfman Foundation hosted 28 Jewish leaders, thinkers, and activists for its Why Be Jewish Gathering. This year's Gathering focused on the topic "Engaging the Sacred."  For thousands of years, the Jewish tradition has struggled with notions of God, theology, and spirituality. However, in contemporary American life, constructive explorations of these issues rarely take place within a Jewish context.
 
This year's Gathering provided an opportunity for its participants to freely engage in a Jewish conversation about the role of the sacred in the life of the individual and today's greater Jewish community.  Through a text based discussion participants examined ideas and questions such as, the tension between engaging the sacred from the context of the individual vs. the context of the collective and how the concept of the sacred relates to one's personal actions (tzedakah, acts of kindness and justice). 
 
Throughout the program several participants recorded their reactions to the gathering's ideas through a series of video blogs, which can be viewed on YouTube. Additionally, several participants reflected on their experience at the program through a special blog series hosted by Jewcy. Click below to read reflections by: 
 
Rabbi Andy Bachman, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beth Elohim
  
Donniel Hartman Asks,
"Is there space for the holy in modern Jewish life?"
 
Donniel HartmanThe Samuel Bronfman Foundation's spring 375 Series program featured a presentation and discussion with Rabbi Donniel Hartman, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute.  Rabbi Hartman addressed the topic "The Sacred in Contemporary Jewish Life" examining the role of both the community and the individual in fostering a connection to holiness.  Rabbi Hartman argued that a heightened culture of individualism has led many Jewish organizations to lose track of the spiritual needs of their greater community.   Participants engaged Rabbi Hartman in a lively conversation about the role of communal leaders in addressing this challenge.   You can watch Rabbi Hartman's presentation and discussion with participants here.
MyJewishLearning Named 2009 Most Outstanding Website
 
 
TCIThe American Jewish Press Association bestowed its First Place 2009 Rockower Award for Excellence in Jewish Journalism in the category of Outstanding Website to MyJewishLearning.com on June 16th.  The redesigned MyJewishLearning.com, which occurred in 2009 under the leadership of Daniel Septimus, Editor in Chief and CEO and Jason Brzoska, Chief Operating Officer, has resulted in unprecedented traffic growth. Over a quarter million people visit the site each month to learn from the over 4,000 articles, video features and blog posts.
BYFI Partners with Repair the World

 
TCIThe Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel Alumni Venture Fund received a matching grant from Repair the World, to support BYFI Alumni Venture Fund projects that encourage young Jews, through Jewish learning and volunteer opportunities, to take part in social action activities and contribute to the world. Repair the World will also feature Alumni Venture Fund projects on their website so alumni-led projects can serve as inspiration to others. 
 
This month, The Jewish Week's annual "36 Under 36" list of forward thinking young leaders who are making a difference in the New York area Jewish community was released.  Mitzi Steiner , co-founder of the Jewish Education Workshop, a beit midrash that bridges gaps on college campus and Stephen Ruttman, co-director of the Park Avenue Synagogue High School Food Pantry, were featured among the young change makers of The Jewish Week's list.

To hear more updates about BYFI, you can follow Becky Voorwinde, BYFI Director of Alumni Engagement, on Twitter at BeckyBYFI.
TCI Empowers Students and Staff

 
TCIIn May, 225 students from 42 different high schools around the San Francisco Bay Area gathered together at The Curriculum Initiative's (TCI) Jewish Teen Coalition dance in celebration of Israel's Independence Day, Yom Ha'atzmaut. The dance, organized by a cohort of Jewish student leaders, featured an Israeli DJ and proceeds of the dance were donated to the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, an organization that supports Israeli students in the arts.
 
TCI continues to serve thousands of students every year at over 65 partner schools across the country, including some of the nation's most prestigious private high schools and boarding schools.   In the past year, with the implementation of a new system-wide database, TCI is now able to closely track and report on student involvement in TCI's diverse programming and leadership training initiatives.  The data TCI has been able to gather is the first information of its kind about this particular cohort of Jewish students.  This information will help TCI do its work even more effectively, and will also serve as a resource for all those in the Jewish community interested in reaching teens.
 
TCI's Adam Gaynor was featured on eJewishPhilanthropy.com as part of the site's Growing Jewish Education in Challenging Times series in, "Bridging the Gap from Bar Mitzvah to Birthright." Adam was featured on JTA recently in "What to Do About Jewish Teens", for his message in support of incorporating Jewish education into students' everyday environment.
 
To hear more updates about TCI, you can follow them on Twitter at TCIOnline.
Hillel Honors Avraham Infeld

 
Avraham and AdamHillel honored Avraham Infeld with their annual Renaissance Award in New York City on June 2, 2010. Avraham served as President of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life  from 2003 to 2006.  Under Avraham's presidency, Hillel deepened and expanded its reach not only throughout North America, but also in the Former Soviet Union, South America and Israel.  Adam Bronfman commented, "Avraham's lasting contribution has been to articulate and personify the value of Jewish educational excellence with grace and humility." You can watch Avraham's inspiring remarks from the dinner here.
NYU Recognizes Bronfman Center Leadership
 
David Rittberg was recently appointed as Executive Director of the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU.  David has been at the Bronfman Center for 3 years and was previously serving as the Bronfman Center's Acting Executive Director.  Throughout his work David has shown a keen ability to develop innovative programs and engage NYU's diverse student population. He is intelligent, hard working, and deeply committed to the Jewish people as well as the work and purpose of the Bronfman Center.  We both congratulate him on his accomplishments and look forward to his continued leadership of the Bronfman Center.   
 
Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, University Chaplain for New York University and Rabbi of the Bronfman Center, recently received the NYU Student Affairs Hallmark Award for his work serving as a religious leader for roughly 12,000 Jewish undergraduate and graduates students. The NYU Student Affairs Hallmark Award is given annually to celebrate best practices, and promote learning, community and diversity.
Limmud FSU in the Ukraine

 
Limmud FSU  hosted a three day conference in Truskavets, Ukraine this past March with over 550 participants who engaged in a variety of Jewish learning and cultural experiences.  The conference was the first to be specifically targeted towards Jews in the Ukraine, and continued Limmud FSU's year long theme of Jewish Nobel Prize winners. You can read a firsthand account of the conference by Yoram Dori who writes that for many, Limmud FSU was participants' "First taste of Judaism."
 
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