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 eight times 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 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, and to create and present a final project.
Fellows will receive a generous stipend for their participation in the Fellowship.
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 or to ask a question about the New York fellowship, email [email protected].
Testimonials from Past Fellows
“As a rabbinical student, there isn’t always time to focus on challenges in Israel. Participating in the Froman Fellowship gave me the peer-group and venue to explore relevant and important justice initiatives happening on the ground. Meeting with NIF grantees and learning about the incredible work they do has encouraged me to stay informed and engaged in Israeli civil society and the fight for equality.”
– Aaron Portman, New York Fellow, 2020-21 (Yeshivat Chovevei Torah ’21)
“During my time as a Froman Fellow, I explored and strengthened my rabbinic identity, cultivated a rabbinic voice, and learned how to bring the important work of NIF to congregational settings. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to engage and organize rabbinical and cantorial students, and for the lasting impact the work has had on my rabbinic formation. I am preparing to enter the pulpit soon, and know that the skills and relationships that I built at the NIF will continue to support and guide me in my work for many years to come.”
– Shani Abramowitz, New York Fellow, 2018-19 (Jewish Theological Seminary ‘21)
“My experience as a Froman Fellow was an amazing opportunity to further my understanding of the dichotomies within Israeli society.”
– Rabbi Deena Gottleib, Israel Fellow, 2016-17 (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion ’20)
“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.”
– Rabbi Austin Zoot, Israel Fellow, 2016-17 (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion ’20)
“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.”
– Rabbi Jesse Paikin, New York Fellow, 2016-17 (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion ’20)
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.