A Note from Dana Raucher

When the Bronfman Fellowships (BYFI) first introduced Amitei Bronfman in 1998, they did so with the belief that an exchange between Israeli and American Jewry would enhance Judaism in both countries. The promise was for a community that, through pluralistic and informed thought, would expand the boundaries of Judaism. Fifteen years later, we see that promise fulfilled, as the Israeli-American exchange is more vibrant than ever before. The two Jewish communities learn from one another on programs, in organizations, and through service, as they create a more dynamic and inclusive Jewish experience than any previous Jewish generation has seen.

The Israeli-American relationship is about much more than just coming together on common terms, but it is about understanding our differences so that we can grow better Jewish communities at home in America and in Israel. BYFI Co-Director Becky Voorwinde related the story of an alumnus of Amitei Bronfman, an Israeli LGBT leader, who had never seen a Jewish community comfortable with LGBT inclusion until he came to America during his Fellowship. His experience in the American Jewish community gave him the opportunity to deeply engage with a Judaism different from his own, showing that Jewish and LGBT life could be experienced together.

Embracing cultural differences, whether they be across geographic boundaries, questions of orientation, or religious identity, is something we value strongly at The Samuel Bronfman Foundation. We are proud to see six grantees of the Foundation who embody this value highlighted in the Slingshot Fund’s 2013-2014 guide to Jewish innovation.

Among the many innovative organizations highlighted in this year’s guide are MyJewishLearning, Inc., Hillel’s Initiative Ask Big Questions, Encounter, Hazon, Mechon Hadar, and Keshet. We are proud to say that our grantees are among a group that Slingshot calls, “a Jewish community of projects that promote diverse perspectives and affiliations, meaningful learning, and modern interpretations of ancient traditions.”

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

Wishing you a happy Chanukah and Thanksgiving!


Dana Raucher


Letter from Dana Raucher

15 Years of Amitei Bronfman

Slingshot 2013-2014

Honoring Senator Lautenberg –Edgar M. Bronfman

Trying to Reach Out to the Unaffiliated - Edgar M. Bronfman

Looking Beyond the Visionaries – Dana Raucher

Jewish Values Dictate Protecting Gay Marriage Edgar M. Bronfman

Business and the Liberal Arts -Edgar M. Bronfman

A Thanksgivukkah Manifesto –Rabbi Mishael Zion


15 Years of Amitei Bronfman
Creating Pluralistic Jewish Leadership

This year marks the 15th Anniversary of the Bronfman Fellowships’ Israeli fellowship, Amitei Bronfman. The model of Amitei Bronfman is unique for its goal of creating pluralistic Jewish leadership that is indigenous to Israel and grounded in respect for diverse expressions of Jewish identity.

In honor of the anniversary, BYFI hosted a weekend of celebrations in Tel Aviv that included an alumni reception and text study led by Fellowship Co-Director Rabbi Mishael Zion. 60% of Amitei Bronfman's 318-person alumni community attended the anniversary event.
Two notable Amitei Bronfman alumni, Limor Alon and Shai Shalev, each wrote a piece for eJewishPhilanthropy expounding on the deep impact the program has had on their lives. Alon writes in her piece about the Bronfman-inspired work she does today with her organization "Adva," working with teens of all denominations across Israel. Shalev speaks to the tools he learned on her Amitim summer experience, and how his BYFI-learned ability to discuss difficult topics has had a large impact on his own life.

The Amitim celebration weekend coincided with Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly, held this year in Jerusalem. BYFI alumna Alana Kinarsky spoke on a plenary panel at the GA, discussing what it means to be young and Jewish today.

The 15th Anniversary weekend was met with good news as it was announced that BYFI alumnus Matti Friedman will be the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize in Jewish Literature recipient for his acclaimed The Aleppo Codex.

Finally, at the recent Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, The Jewish Communal Service Association of North America honored BYFI Co-Director Becky Voorwinde with the Bernard Rodkin Professional Development Israel Fellowship, a ten day professional development experience in Israel. Becky was recognized by the JCSA for her long term commitment to a professional career in the Jewish community. We congratulate Becky on this honor!

Slingshot 2013 - 2014
Six Foundation Grantees Announced

The Samuel Bronfman Foundation values innovation among other organizational qualities, including a commitment to pluralism and deep Jewish learning. Once again, the Slingshot Fund has included six grantees of the Foundation in its annual guide to Jewish innovation, tracking North America’s most innovative Jewish organizations.

MyJewishLearning, Inc. (Find Out More)
“MyJewishLearning’s approachable, relevant, and multi-perspective nature is evident in the breadth and depth of topics covered on all of its sites. MyJewishLearning leverages key partnerships that are mutually beneficial and strengthen the pluralistic goal that it was founded on.”

Ask Big Questions, A Project of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Life on Campus (Find Out More)
“Building a movement of young adults equipped with better listening skills, greater empathy, and deeper self-awareness, ABQ helps form stronger Jewish communities and molds young Jewish leaders a growing number of college campuses nationwide.”

Encounter (Find Out More)
“The organization creates space for a new type of discourse about the conflict, allowing multiple American Jewish voices to be heard.”

Hazon (Find Out More)
“Recently embarking on a new stage of growth, the merger between Hazon and Isabella Freedman has allowed Hazon to double in size and infrastructure.”

Keshet  (Find Out More)
“In the future, when Jewish life fully includes lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Jews, it will be because of Keshet.”

Mechon  (Find Out More)
“Mechon Hadar has spawned a movement that has changed Jewish religious life for young Jews, and it has created a domino effect in the entire Jewish community.”