Elissa Froman Social Change Fellowship

The Elissa Froman Social Change Fellowship was created to honor the memory of Elissa Froman, z”l, a remarkable young woman whose life was rooted in the Jewish community and who held an abiding commitment to progressive causes at home and in Israel.

Created by the Eugene and Janet Lerner Family Foundation with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the seminary of the Reform Movement, and the New Israel Fund (NIF), the leading supporter of progressive causes in Israel, the fellowship is a unique opportunity for future rabbis and cantors to engage in deep learning about social issues in Israel – the kind of learning Elissa would have relished.

Froman Fellows become familiar with NIF’s work in the US and Israel and with the Israeli civil society sector more broadly so that they can become fluent and effective ambassadors for progressive change in Israel as they enter the rabbinate.


The fellowship is open to all HUC-JIR rabbinical students beginning their journey with a year of study in Israel. The Froman Fellowship complements HUC-JIR’s curriculum with a series of bimonthly encounters with Israeli activists and issue experts, organized by NIF.

On the fellowship, you can expect to:

  • Learn in-depth about NIF’s efforts to build an equal and democratic Israeli society
  • Meet NIF grantees and social and political activists working for progressive change in their communities
  • Get an up-close look at social justice and human rights issues

Applications for the Israel fellowship open in August of every year. Fellows will receive a stipend for their participation. For more information and to let us know you’re interested in applying, please email [email protected].

New York

The fellowship is open to all New York-area rabbinical, cantorial, and yeshiva students preparing to become Jewish clergy. The U.S.-based fellows will join NIF’s efforts to engage Americans in advancing and promoting social justice in Israel. Fellows will join a selective cohort of like-minded individuals who are passionate about progressive social change. The fellows will meet six times in-person over the course of the year (September – May), which will include opportunities to get to know NIF’s grantees and the issues we support, to learn about internal NIF strategy, and to meet leading rabbis to discuss how to integrate progressive Israel values into their rabbinate. Fellows are expected to organize one event per year, and will also be responsible for planning and executing the annual Elissa Froman Memorial Lecture, to be held each spring at rabbinical seminaries across New York.

Past Elissa Froman Memorial Lecture speakers have included:

  • Sapir Sluzker Amran — Mizrahi social and political activist and human rights lawyer
  • Tamar Rechnitz — Director of Education, Tag Meir (“Light Tag”)
  • Amal Elsana Alh-jooj — New Israel Fund Board Member and activist in the Bedouin community in Israel
  • Mutasim Ali — Advocate for refugee rights and the first Sudanese person to gain refugee status in Israel

For more information about the New York fellowship, email [email protected].

Testimonials from Past Fellows

“My experience as a Froman Fellow was an amazing opportunity to further my understanding of the dichotomies within Israeli society.”
– Deena Gottleib, Israel participant

“Through [the fellowship], I have a better grasp on what Israel means to me. I have learned that as complicated as Israel can be … it is our job to help create a country we can be proud of.”
– Austin Zoot, Israel participant

“The Froman Fellowship exposed me to how crucial North American support is for the work being done on the ground in Israel to advance social justice and human rights for all. It allowed me the opportunity to learn from the leaders in the field, and to express my rabbinic voice in support of this work.”
– Jesse Paikin, New York participant

About Elissa Froman

Elissa Froman knew from a young age that she wanted to be a rabbi. Growing up in the Chicago area as part of a social justice-oriented family, Elissa attended OSRUI, the Reform Movement’s Midwest summer camp, where, she once said, she obtained nearly all of her most relevant life skills. She continued her activism at George Washington University, where she was active in GW Hillel and founded the Jewish Political Progressive Association, a group dedicated to tikkun olam. After graduation, she worked for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the National Council for Jewish Women, and began plans to attend rabbinical school at HUC-JIR as a Wexner Fellow. Sadly, at age 29, Elissa lost her years-long battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Many friends and colleagues considered Elissa their “unofficial rabbi” – the person to whom they could turn to connect social justice, community building, and Judaism. NIF and HUC-JIR are proud to partner with Elissa’s family and the Eugene and Janet Lerner Family Foundation to carry forward Elissa’s legacy by offering this fellowship in her memory.

Apply for the Elissa Froman Social Change Fellowship in New York

  • You may find it useful to write some of the longer answers first elsewhere and then paste your answers into this form. The entire application should not take more than 30 minutes to complete.

    The application deadline is Sunday, May 17 at 11:59pm Eastern.

    NIF strongly encourages individuals from all backgrounds, including LGBTQ people, Jews of color, people with disabilities, and people of all genders to apply.

  • About You

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  • We'd like to get to know you and learn more about your interest in the fellowship, your background, and what motivates you. Please answer the following questions in 250 words each.

  • Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf.
  • Letter of Recommendation

  • The fellowship application requires one written letter of recommendation. Please direct your recommender to submit their letter to [email protected] with the subject line: “[Your Name] - Froman Fellowship Letter of Recommendation.”

  • It’s important for us that you understand what it entails to be a part of this program before you submit your application. Froman Fellows receive a stipend for their participation in the fellowship, and receipt of the stipend is contingent upon their full participation in the program. Please take a look and make sure you are able to commit to the following expectations.

    The fellowship lasts from September to June. The program includes:

    • Six in-person meetings in NYC, including an orientation and closing seminar
    • Ongoing learning opportunities with NIF grantees and Israeli and Palestinian activists and leaders throughout the year
    • Organize one event per year
    • Plan and execute the annual Elissa Froman Memorial Lecture in New York, to be held each spring at rabbinical schools and yeshivot
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