Bay Area Bronfman teens reflect on transformative tripby russell eisenman, j. correspondent
|Follow j. on||and|
Only 26 Jewish teens from across North America are selected to be Bronfman Youth Fellows each summer.
What the chosen few get is a five-week, all-expenses-paid journey to Israel — and a chance to learn not only about the Holy Land, but also about themselves.
Like the other 2013 fellows, Morgan-Weinman has started her senior year of high school, which for her is the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco.
The program brings together thoughtful, inquisitive teens, in part to build lasting community. The journey begins with a quick stop in New York, where the fellows get to know each other before heading off to Israel for classes, testimonies and a variety of guest speakers.
The fellows traversed virtually the entire country in a tour bus, met with their Israeli Bronfman Fellows counterparts, wrote prose and poetry, sang songs, and made friends and memories.
They even learned how to squeegee the floors in their dormitory.
“The trip is meant to be something that is different for every person, and to enable individual purposes,” Korman said. “I think another one of the more impressive things about the Bronfman program is their strong alumni network, one of whom is Lemony Snicket [Daniel Handler], which I thought was pretty cool.”
The trip is named for Edgar Bronfman Sr., a Canadian-born businessman known for his philanthropy and dedication to Jewish education. He founded the trip and funds it.
The application process is highly competitive and somewhat intense, sort of like filling out a college application (2014 sign-ups have begun at http://www.bronfman.org).
Fellows come from a wide range of Jewish backgrounds, including those immersed in Jewish life and those with no prior Jewish education. Meals on the trip are kosher and Shabbat is observed.
Self-discovery is one outcome of the experience. Morgan-Weinman shared her writing, reluctantly at first.
“I’ve always loved writing, but dreaded sharing it with people, so the prospect of having time set aside to do just that was daunting,” she said. “When the first meeting came, I obligingly read one of my poems with my heart slamming and stomach squeezing. When I finished and dared to look up, my group members were smiling at me. They asked me to read another, and you could have knocked me over with a feather.”
Now, Morgan-Weinman says she may have the confidence to pursue writing in college and beyond.
The trip included a number of memorable travel experiences. “One of my favorite memories is when we went to Masada for the sunrise,” Korman said. “But it wasn’t the sunrise that was my favorite part. Just sitting with the other fellows eating our sloppy and mushed pastrami sandwiches and taking everything in … I know it sounds simple, but it was really one of my favorite moments of the trip.”
Morgan-Weinman and Korman are now back at school, entrenched in the hectic pace that comes with being a high school senior. But there’s no chance they will forget their journey.
As Morgan-Weinman put it: “I spent my summer with the most incredible, intellectual, funny, deep, unique, curious, strong and full-of-life people I could have ever asked for.”
Be the first to comment!