375 Series
The Samuel Bronfman Foundation
July 2011
Press Worthy


Dana Raucher
Together with our grantees, The Samuel Bronfman Foundation has been reflecting on the concept of Jewish peoplehood. The term 'peoplehood' has become a trademark catchphrase that is central to the work of many organizations. At the same time, the idea of a unified Jewish people is a hot button issue as the American-Israel relationship grows more complex. Through thoughtful reflection and sharing of diverse perspectives, the Foundation and its grantees hope to reach a deeper understanding of this multifaceted model of a Jewish collective.

In May, The Samuel Bronfman Foundation's Bronfman Vision Forum hosted its 2011 Why Be Jewish Gathering in New York City. The Foundation partnered with the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America to facilitate conversations and text study sessions on the theme of Nationhood, Peoplehood and the Question of Collective Identity. In anticipation of the gathering, Adam R. Bronfman wrote about The Sanctity of Learning as an Escape from the Mundane. Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman opened up the two-day conference by exploring how questions of peoplehood manifest themselves in contemporary Jewish life and the problems inherent in using this language. Together we asked: should the conventional definition of 'Jewish peoplehood' be an assumed end goal?  In a world of intense individualism, can Judaism be defined primarily as a personal and internal experience?  Is a sense of belonging to a Jewish collective even central to how we give meaning and purpose to contemporary Jewish life? We invite you to explore more videos from the gathering and consider these questions with us. 


The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel  (BYFI) has been exploring the relationship and connection between Jews in North America and in Israel for the past 25 years. BYFI announced  that Rabbi Mishael Zion and Becky Voorwinde will co-lead BYFI with attention to both community development and Jewish education. Mishael, who grew up in Israel and attended rabbinical school in New York, and Becky, who developed the BYFI alumni community in North America for the past three years, are two visionary leaders who will ensure that both the North American and Israeli-based Fellowships continue to grow and delve deeply into the most pressing questions facing the Jewish community today.


Please read on to learn more about our recent work and the noteworthy accomplishments of some of our grantees.


We wish you all a safe and relaxing summer.


Dana Raucher
Executive Director


People, Power and Zionism:
What does Israel mean for American Jews today? 375

On Monday, May 23, as part of the Bronfman Vision Forum's  Why Be Jewish gathering, the Foundation hosted an engaging discussion with journalist Peter Beinart and Professor Suzanne Last Stone on the topic, Peoplehood, Power and Zionism: What does Israel mean for American Jews today? Peter and Professor Last Stone focused on younger Jews' changing relationship with Israel and addressed the questions: is the Zionist consensus among American Jews fading? Are these changes a result of Israel's actions, changes in the United States or both? How can we find a new way to talk about Israel that reflects what is happening both there and here?  "It was Zionism as refuge that had made Americans Zionist. But the era of the Zionist consensus among American Jews is ending." Professor Last Stone continued, "I've also observed that the [Zionist] consensus is dissolving. But I see that even younger Orthodox Jews are also part of the dissolving consensus, not just the non-Orthodox." You can watch video of the entire discussion  here.


Edgar M. Bronfman and Morton Schapiro    

Discuss Jewish Inspiration for College Students

NorthWesternOn May 17th, the Foundation welcomed more than 60 alumni, parents and other Northwestern University Hillel supporters for an intimate reception and discussion with President Morton Schapiro and Edgar M. Bronfman. The group was also joined by Hillel President Wayne Firestone and Northwestern University Hillel's Executive Director, Michael Simon. Edgar and Morton Schapiro, who are long time partners in their endeavor to support Jewish life, had an engaging discussion about inspiring young people and the importance of education. Edgar commented, "knowledge is the best defense weapon students can have - about Israel, Judaism: anything." While President Schapiro shared how he had been deeply inspired by his participation on a Birthright Israel trip. Young alumni played an important role at the event by providing introductory remarks about how they became more deeply connected to Jewish life by becoming active in Hillel at Northwestern and asking insightful questions from both speakers. You can watch the full video of the discussion  here.



A Tradition of Innovation


Together with our partners at The Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies  and The Steinhart Foundation for Jewish Life , The Samuel Bronfman Foundation co-sponsored the Winter/Spring 2011 Journal of Jewish Communal Service focused on the theme "A Tradition of Innovation." Innovation has been a defining feature of Jewish culture since its inception. Through this edition of the Journal, the contributing authors address critical questions facing the Jewish community such as: How do we connect with and become relevant to the next generation of stakeholders, while at the same time, remain true to the values and traditions of our core group of supporters? The journal features pieces by alumni of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships and professionals from numerous grantee organizations including Mechon Hadar ,  Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life  ,  MyJewishLearning.com The Curriculum InitiativeThe Jewish Outreach Institute and the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America.  You can order a copy of the journal on the JCSA website and read two of the pieces including "Beyond the Melting Pot: Finding a Voice for Jewish Identity in Multicultural American Schools by Adam R. Gaynor," and "Jewish 2.0: The Difficult Road to Internet Innovation" by Daniel Septimus.   



Hillel Honors Morris Offit 

More than 500 Hillel supporters came together at the Pierre Hotel in New York City on May 25, 2011 to honor philanthropist and businessman Morris W. Offit  at the Hillel Gala Dinner.


In presenting the award to Morris Offit, Bed Bath and Beyond cofounder Leonard Feinstein  summed it up best, "Morris represents the best of the Jewish community. He is a man who cares deeply about his family, his community, and his world. This is exactly the type of individual that Hillel seeks to nurture." Morris Offit is a long time supporter of Jewish causes and leader in the New York Jewish community. In his acceptance remarks, Morris thanked Edgar M. Bronfman for his leadership, explaining the "genius" of Edgar's willingness to listen to young people and "get his hands dirty" by traveling to hundreds of college campuses and frequently meeting with students.


During the dinner, Hillel President Wayne Firestone spoke about the accomplishments of young leaders born out of the Hillel movement: "We are celebrating the investment that Hillel supporters made several years ago in Hillel and Jewish students on campus. And we are seeing that the return on that investment is the next generation of Jewish leaders and the new faces of our Jewish future."


Emily Stecher, a 2009 graduate of Northwestern University, described how her leadership role at Hillel continues to impact her life. "As an analyst at Goldman Sachs, I barely have the time to breathe... But when I do have free time, I spend it in Jewish-oriented activities. Hillel truly enriched my life and I hope that I have given a little something back."  



MyJewishLearning Wins First Place Second Consecutive Year 


Jewish Learning

We are proud to share that MyJewishLearning was just awarded first place for Outstanding Website from the American Jewish Press Associations for the second year in a row. Last year, MyJewishLearning won after re-launching the site's new design. The judges wrote that MyJewishLearning is an "incredible site. You could spend hours here and just scratch the surface." You can see a complete list of the winners here.




Limmud FSU launches in Be'ersheva 

fsu launch


Last month in Be'ersheva, more than 600 Russian speaking Jews gathered for the first Limmud FSU conferenceto take place in the city. Limmud Be'ersheva is the fourth Limmud festival to take place in Israel, and prominently featured two Russian cosmonauts in its program: Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space and Mikhail Kornyenko. The theme of togetherness came up throughout the conference including by Leonov who said, "We can accomplish so much more by working together."  Matthew Bronfman who serves as Chair of the Limmud FSU International Steering Committee also spoke at the event highlighting the parallels of space without limits, and limitless knowledge. You can read more about the event in A Space for Russians in Israel and Limmud FSU Beersheba: Walking in Space, Looking Toward the Future.




Other News Bits

On Monday, June 20thHillel Israel  hosted their first gala dinner "Hilleluyah" in Tel Aviv for hundreds of supporters. Hilleluyah honored outgoing Hillel Israel CEO, Rabbi Yossie Goldman, for his 25 years of service to Hillel, featured a performance by The Idan Raichel Project and recognized both a student, Lynn Brill, and a community leader, Hillel Milo, for their contributions to the Jewish-Israeli community. Hillel Israel is triggering a Jewish awakening among Israeli university and college students, inspiring the participation of more than 30,000 students at eight centers across the Israel. You can read more about the dinner and Hillel Israel's work First Annual 'Hilleluyah' celebrates Jewish renewal. 


Four alumni from the Bronfman Youth Fellowships were recently recognized by The Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" list. This year the list focused on the "re-engineers," lay leaders who are reordering the Jewish community's legacy organizations alongside community activists and social justice crusaders whose startups are chock-full of innovation. Included as re-engineers and innovators were:  Alli Alperovich, a community lay leader dedicated to women in OrthodoxyRabbi Dan Smokler, the NYU Bronfman Center Senior Jewish Educator and Hillel International's Director of Education for the Senior Jewish Educator project)   Elisabeth Cohen, co-founder of the educational organization College Students for Enrichment in Secondary Schoolsand  Joshua Foer, author and organizer of Sukkah City


On June 6thJumpstart and the Federation of Los Angeles hosted an event to discuss the recent findings of the Jewish Innovation Economy a report sponsored byThe Samuel Bronfman Foundation, The Natan Fund and Jumpstart. The event reported the findings of the survey, and a panel discussion about innovation with Rebecca Guber, Director of the Six Points Fellowship , Shannon Sarna, Communications Manager of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation and Jonathan Greenblatt, co-founder of Ethos Water You can watch the full video from the event here or read more from The Jewish Journal.


Save a Child's Heart  was recently recommended for special consulative status by the United Nations. Consulative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) provides an excellent opportunity for member states, UN staff, and NGO's to work closely towards a common global agenda. This status will help open doors for the organization so that they can reach more children in need of treatment in the poorest corners of the world. Through its partnership with Hillels of Israel , SACH provides volunteer opportunities to students from Tel Aviv University and the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.  SACH also partners with Hillel in North America to create volunteer opportunities for students and fundraising events on college campuses.
The Samuel Bronfman Foundation
375 Park Avenue, 17th Floor
New York, New York10152
© 2010 The Samuel Bronfman Foundation.  All rights reserved