July 2019 -- Sivan-Tammuz 5779,  Volume 25, Issue 7

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Rye Brook Student Selected for Bronfman Fellowship

Bronfman Fellowship has selected its 33rd cohort of intellectually curious 11th- graders from across North America, among them the president of a club that helps support youth development in the African country of Eswatini, a young physicist whose studies on cosmic ray muons have been used by high schools throughout the country, a professional jeweler who works with ancient gemstones, and an activist who spoke to a crowd of thousands about the violence spawned by white nationalism in the wake of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue.


The 26 Fellows, chosen from over two hundred and thirty applicants, will participate in a transformative five-week program of study and travel in Israel, followed by a dynamic year of programming centered around pluralism, social responsibility and Jewish texts. They also interact with a group of Israeli peers who were chosen through a parallel selection process as part of the Israeli Fellowship, Amitei Bronfman. The new class of Fellows will join a vibrant alumni network that includes some of today’s most exciting Jewish writers, thinkers and leaders


Recently chosen as one of the Fellows, Abe Baker-Butler is a junior at Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook.  He was appointed by the Westchester County Executive to the Westchester Youth Board, of which he now serves as Vice President, and advises on social and educational programming for youth. In the wake of the Parkland shooting in 2018, he co-founded the Westchester Student Coalition Against Gun Violence. Abe serves as the advocacy chair for J-Teen Leadership, an organization promoting Jewish teen social action to repair the world, as well as a youth representative for the United Jewish Appeal Westchester Advisory Council.


This year, he has also participated in the American Jewish Committee’s Leaders for Tomorrow program. Abe is also the founder of the Rye Brook High School Democrats and serves as Director of Legislative Advocacy and Expansion for Youth Decide, a student-led not-for-profit that prevents teen substance abuse. He was selected by the New York State Department of Education as one of two State delegates to the 2019 United States Senate Youth Program.


He is an avid delegate at Model United Nations conferences and is interested in public policy, history, international affairs, and neuroscience. In his free time, he enjoys playing the saxophone, discussing politics, kayaking, hiking, traveling, and walking his favorite dog, Maxie.


The Bronfman Fellowship was founded in 1987 by Edgar M. Bronfman, z”l, formerly CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. and a visionary Jewish philanthropist. Mr. Bronfman passed away in December 2013.


“Edgar Bronfman would have relished the opportunity to get to know this year’s Fellows,” said Becky Voorwinde, Executive Director of The Bronfman Fellowship. “They are a passionate, inquisitive, talented and incredibly bright bunch. I look forward to seeing them challenge and inspire one another and their communities throughout their lives.”


Adam R. Bronfman, president of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, said he was “impressed and heartened” by the new cohort. “The energy, diversity and intellectual firepower of this group speak to my father’s belief that young people can change the world in ways that previous generations couldn’t have envisioned,” he said. “My father treasured the Fellowship as an investment in the Jewish future, and I am proud to continue his work. It brings me joy to witness the magic that happens when Jews from all backgrounds come together to access Jewish wisdom and have important conversations. I look forward to getting to know the 2019 Fellows personally, and to joining some of those conversations myself.”


Following a competitive application process, the 2019 Fellows are from 10 states and Canada and represent a wide range of Jewish backgrounds, including Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and secularly/culturally Jewish.