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].
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.