Vital Signs: Uniting the Jewish People

April 12, 2010

Source: Jewish Ideas Daily


This is the fifth in a series on people and places fostering commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people in the United States and elsewhere by Professor Jack Wertheimer of the Jewish Theological Seminary. In it he tells about the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship program, a unique experiment in global Jewish conversation.

The Nahum Goldmann Fellowship Program is a special institute aimed at nurturing a new generation of Jewish communal leadership across the world. The program provides an intensive experience of Jewish learning, living and leadership for young men and women from around the world between the ages of 25-40 who show serious interest in Jewish culture and demonstrate a potential for individual growth and communal leader.


Founded over twenty ago by the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the seminars meet twice a year on average and attract about fifty participants in their twenties and thirties.


The seven to ten-day seminars have a two-fold purpose: spurring participants to reflect upon the nature of their own Jewish identity and encouraging them to develop a vision for their particular community. Mornings are devoted to formal learning with professors and public intellectuals, drawn mainly from institutions in the U.S and Israel, who explore classical Jewish texts in the light of Jewish thought and contemporary issues. Afternoons consist of small-group workshops. Evening sessions feature peer-moderated conversations open only to fellows for the private exchange of information about their experience in their respective home communities. Here and over meals and during free time, relationships are forged across regional boundaries and ideological perspectives.


Though the large majority of invitees have a prior track record of activism in their communities, Goldmann fellows are not pressured to assume leadership roles upon their return home. Yet the program has in fact nurtured just such long-term commitments.

Updated: Apr. 21, 2010