Alexander Moss of Ottawa is one of 26 Grade 11 students from all over North America who are currently in Israel for what the Bronfman Fellowship describes as “a transformative five-week program of study and travel… followed by a rigorous year of programming centred around pluralism, social responsibility and Jewish texts.”
Established in 1987 by the late Edgar Bronfman, a philanthropist originally from Montreal who was president of the World Jewish Congress from 1979 until 2007, the Bronfman Fellowship is a program that encourages Grade 11 students to engage in debates about Jewish identity, social responsibility and leadership.
The fellows, who come from varied backgrounds and religious practices, are chosen from among hundreds of applicants based on their involvement and commitment to Jewish life in their communities.
Moss, 17, a homeschooled student, is deeply involved in Jewish life. He is one of the organizers of the annual Limmud Ottawa event, has participated in Yiddish and Israeli folk dance classes in Ottawa, and the International Bible Contest in Israel. Moss placed 10th in the 2016 contest.
“I’ve been interested in the [Bronfman Fellowship] program for years,” said Moss, “following family members and mentors who are alumni of it.”
Moss said he hopes the Fellowship will help him acquire skills to become a future leader of the Jewish community – in Ottawa and beyond.
“The Bronfman Fellowship can empower young Jews to become leaders. It helps us to delve into fundamental questions of Jewishness, while giving us skills and knowledge, as well as the confidence to speak up for ourselves,” he said.
“One of the most exciting things about the program is that we’re coming from very diverse groups – religiously, socially, culturally, and so on,” Moss added. “This might help to unify and strengthen the Jewish community, while honouring our differences.”
Referring to Ottawa as his “beloved hometown,” Moss said he is “proud of our own [Jewish] unity. People of many different groups and practices seem to interact here much more than they might in larger communities. Limmud Ottawa is an amazing example of that and I urge everyone to go.”
“I can’t wait to stay up until 3 am, discussing Jewish identity and politics; to challenge the other Fellows and to be challenged myself with different perspectives; to learn from all the participants, the presenters and sessions – and to breathe the Israeli air,” Moss said before leaving for Israel.