Gideon Reiter of Woodbridge is among a select group of 11th-graders from across North America chosen to make up the 34th cohort of The Bronfman Fellowship.
The 26 Fellows, chosen from over 270 applicants, will participate in a year-long experience of study and conversation centered around pluralism, social responsibility and Jewish texts. They will also interact with a group of Israeli peers who were chosen through a parallel selection process as part of the Israeli Fellowship, Amitei Bronfman. Reiter is a graduate of Ezra Academy, a Jewish day school in Woodbridge. Currently, he is a junior at Choate Rosemary Hall, where this year he received first place in the Choate Arabic Poetry Contest and will represent his Arabic class in the CT COLT Poetry Recitation Contest. Gideon is also a member of B’nai Jacob’s chapter of Hazamir: the International Jewish Teen Choir, with whom he has performed twice at Lincoln Center.
Founded in 1987 by Edgar M. Bronfman, z”l, the late CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. and a visionary Jewish philanthropist, the Bronfman Fellowship year has begun with a five-week immersive summer in Israel. Due to the global pandemic, The Fellowship will conduct its programming virtually until in-person meetings are deemed safe.
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 Jews from all backgrounds come together to access Jewish wisdom and have important conversations. I look forward to getting to know the 2020 Fellows personally, and to joining some of those conversations myself.”
The 2020 Fellows are from 12 states and represent a wide range of Jewish backgrounds, including Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Just Jewish and secularly/culturally Jewish. The Fellows will study Jewish text, traditions history and culture with a diverse faculty, including Jake Marmer, Education and Programming Director of The Bronfman Fellowship, author of two poetry collections, and contributing editor/poetry critic for Tablet Magazine; Rabbi Dr. Vanessa Ochs, professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies Program at the University of Virginia; Rabbi Dr. Micha’el Rosenberg, associate professor of Rabbinics and member of the tenured faculty of Hebrew College; Rabbanit Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld, Manhiga Ruchanit (female spiritual leader) in Efrat, Israel; and Arielle Tonkin, an artist and Museum Educator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.
There are now over 1300 Bronfman Fellowship alumni across North America and Israel. Among them are seven Rhodes Scholars, four former Supreme Court clerks, 18 Fulbright Scholars, 36 Wexner Fellows and 27 Dorot Fellows. Leaders of note among Fellowship alumni include Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, author of the best-selling Series of Unfortunate Events children’s books; Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything Is Illuminated; and Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl, the first woman to be named senior rabbi at New York’s Central Synagogue and the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a rabbi and cantor. Others include Anne Dreazen, Director for Iraq Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense; Dara Horn, author of A Guide for the Perplexed; Itamar Moses, Tony award-winner for The Band’s Visit; and Anya Kamenetz, lead education blogger at NPR and one of the youngest people ever nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Alumni also include entrepreneurial Jewish leaders who have founded organizations like the Kavana Cooperative, Keshet, Sefaria, and YidLife Crisis; and serve in central leadership roles at major organizations like The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, the Jewish Women’s Archive, Central Synagogue, Hillel International and The Foundation for Jewish Camp, to name a few.
For more information about The Bronfman Fellowship, including how to apply, please visit www.bronfman.org.