July 2018 -- Tammuz-Av 5778,  Volume 24, Issue 7

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Local Students Selected for The Bronfman Fellowship

The Bronfman Fellowship has selected its 32nd cohort of eleventh grade high school students, among them from New York, a Senate page who ran for mayor of Ardsley and  a young woman  that has performed research at the Neuroscience and Education Lab at NYU.


The 26 Fellows, chosen from over two hundred and twenty applicants across North America, will participate in a transformative five-week program of study and travel in Israel, followed by a rigorous 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.


The program was founded 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.”


Two students from Westchester have been chosen for this prestigious honor. Ardsley resident David Oks, is a junior at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. Oks has studied at both Jewish and secular schools and programs. Interested in history and literature, he has received a multitude of awards for his knowledge of history, along with several writing awards. A student of politics, he ran for mayor of Ardsley in 2017 and served as a Senate page in Washington, D.C. He interned in the office of Congressman Eliot Engel.  A longtime Boy Scout, Oks is active in his school’s Model UN program and student newspaper, as well as its literary magazine.


Sarah Bock of Scarsdale, is a junior at Scarsdale High School and a member of Westchester Reform Temple. At SHS, Sarah is a member of Signifer, which functions as Scarsdale’s Honor Society, as well as a peer tutoring program. She is on the schools’ cross country and track teams and is a member of the Pratham club, which raises money to fund women’s education in India. She also participates in the Empower Club which helps cook meals for local women’s shelters. Bock is part of SHS’s science research program in which students select an area of science in which they are interested, find a mentor in that field, and conduct an independent research project with the eventual goal of entering research competitions and potentially being published in a peer-reviewed journal. She is currently conducting research at NYU exploring the effects of prenatal cortisol exposure on children’s neurological and cognitive development.


Bock also volunteers weekly at Reading Buddies, a program in which students mentor elementary school   students from underprivileged communities to help them with their school work   and cultivate their educational development. She is excited for the opportunity this summer to nurture her Jewish learning in a way that she has not been able to before with a group of people holding a diverse range of beliefs and opinions.


Adam R. Bronfman, president of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, said he was “impressed and heartened” by the new cohort.  “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 people from different levels of observance come together to access Jewish wisdom and have important conversations. I look forward to getting to know the 2018 Fellows personally, and to joining some of those conversations myself.”


The Bronfman Fellowship, the flagship program for outstanding young Jews, taps 26 North American teenagers at a formative point in their lives, the year before college, when an intense, immersive experience will have the most impact.