alice coleman 298.88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The new president of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel is planning on mobilizing the program alumni to take leadership roles in their communities.
"I understand my role as galvanizing and mobilizing this very diverse, remarkable cohort of alumni of young adults that range now from 17 to 36 who participated in the summer course and remained in contact with the organization," Alice Kolman told The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview from New York. "We are interested in looking forward to the next 20 years... The goal is and was to develop these emergent leaders in the Jewish community."
Kolman, from Baltimore, Maryland, was appointed to the newly created position of the program which was founded in 1987 and allows 26 high school students to study in Israel for five weeks before entering their Junior year.
Kolman has worked in Baltimore's Jewish community for more than 20 years, directing a charitable foundation and working closely with youth.
The most recent class of Bronfman Fellows spent the summer here while the country fought a war with Hizbullah. The program's logistics were not affected significantly although the students did leave the North a day earlier than planned.
The conflict gave them an opportunity to learn how their Israeli counterparts felt about the war and the effects it had on them and their families.
"They were able to hear from them directly," Kolman said. "The ongoing relationships they build between North Americans and Israelis are an important part of the program."
Before Kolman makes any decisions on how to organize her efforts among the program's 500 alumni, she plans to tour the country to speak with them about their interests.
"Since they are such a remarkable group and have been so successful in individual academic and business careers, I'm sure I will get an earful," she said.
One idea circulated since she joined the Bronfman Youth Fellowships's board at the beginning of the month is to form regional interest groups. The groups would also help to get the alumni involved in their communities.
"Unlike most Jewish programs, we are very heavily invested in our alumni community and we are in touch with almost 100 percent," said Rabbi Shimon Felix, the executive director of the program, in Jerusalem. The growing size and diversity of the alumni group meant "bringing on someone else based in the States was just crucial."