With more than 150 alumni in an array of professional and communal careers and 15 stellar new graduates taking the reins this fall, Yeshiva University’s Presidential Fellowship in University and Community Leadership is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Three local graduates–Shara Feltheimer of Lawrence, Daniel Schoenfeld of Woodmere, and David Berger of West Hempstead–will serve as Fellows this year.
The highly competitive program was established by President Richard M. Joel in 2004, shortly after his arrival at YU, with the goal of transforming the university into a leadership incubator for the Jewish people. Under the supervision of YU Senior Vice President Rabbi Josh Joseph, the Fellowship places accomplished top-level YU graduates in key departments and schools throughout the institution, where they develop and oversee thoughtful and innovative projects to improve the university. They also receive close mentorship from senior university staff and cultivate a broad knowledge base and skill set to engage with the larger Jewish community.
“When I started the Fellowship, I knew it was a win-win,” said President Joel. “On the one hand, some of our best and brightest students would maintain their direct involvement with this institution and benefit it in wondrous ways and, more importantly, these budding young professionals would receive challenging and meaningful experience in the field of Jewish organizational work, which would launch them in the careers and personal paths of their choice. Ten years later, the Presidential Fellowship, under the guidance of Rabbi Joseph and Allison Rubin, has achieved all of that and so much more.”
Berger decided to apply for the Fellowship so he could help shape the Center for the Jewish Future missions he attended as an undergraduate. In the CJF’s Department of Jewish Service Learning, he’ll be doing just that as he organizes missions to destinations around the world. “I’m hoping to pursue a Ph.D. in political science and feel this is a great place to gain important skills along the way,” Berger said.
In addition to their departmental mentors and weekly graduate seminars with leaders from many backgrounds, including philanthropists Michael Steinhardt and Ronald Stanton, author A.J. Jacobs, and human-rights activist Brooke Goldstein, Presidential Fellows benefit from the guidance of communal lay leaders. The Fellowship also enables participants to hone professional career skills in a challenging but familiar work environment. Feltheimer, who is positioned in the office of communications and public affairs, will be working on projects that range from event management and promotion to digital media and media relations. “I contributed to the YU mobile application and have the opportunity to think of new and exciting ideas to make it even better after the launch,” Feltheimer said.
For Schoenfeld, a political-science graduate now working in the dean’s office of Yeshiva College, helping shape student experiences has been a rewarding part of the Fellowship. “I want to do my part to ensure that YU is serving all its students across the cultural, religious, and academic spectrum,” he said. “Seeing how deeply the deans care about all the students, and how much they do to help them succeed, has been great.”
In addition to Feltheimer, Schoenfeld, and Berger, this year’s Presidential Fellows include Mordechai Czarka of Chicago, IL; Yitzy Frankel of Los Angeles, CA; Danny Goldberg of St. Louis, MO; Malkie Krieger of Monroe, NY; Talia Lautman and David Muller of Cleveland, OH; Adam Neuman and Meirah Shedlo of Baltimore, MD; Marganit Rauch of London, UK; Elia Rackovsky of Rochester, NY; Joanna Ross-Tash of Indianapolis, IN; and Michali Sturm of Toronto, ON.
“Even though each Fellow carves out his or her own experience, it’s clear that both individually and collectively, this program shapes Yeshiva’s present and our community’s future,” said Rabbi Joseph. v