Jonah Goldberg, Brawerman Fellowship* recipient and recent Washington University in St. Louis graduate, shares how the Fellowship helped him explore his Jewish identity and grow as a leader.
From the beginning, being named a Brawerman Fellow before leaving to attend college 2,000 miles away from Los Angeles encouraged me to expand my view of Judaism from a set of family traditions to seeing myself as part of both the LA and national Jewish communities. I felt much more comfortable getting involved immediately in my campus Hillel and Chabad than I otherwise would have, as I knew from the Brawerman Fellowship that I belonged there and had something to contribute.
The workshops at our retreats also encouraged me to explore Jewish philosophy. I enrolled in the Jewish Learning Fellowship and Sinai Scholars, and the Brawerman Fellowship allowed me to extend my Birthright trip into a two-month internship program that combined work in the mornings with intensive learning in the afternoons. College is of course about becoming independent, yet I’m surprised and grateful to find that I’m graduating with a much clearer sense of what causes and communities I want to be involved with and the kinds of people I want in my life. I feel better connected to Judaism as a community and a value system that I’ll continue learning about.
I was challenged with making several big decisions during college, on an often inseparable spectrum from courses to majors/minors to career paths. The Brawerman Fellowship matched us with earlier cohorts of fellows as mentors, and I talked to Joshua Cahn about whether or not to write a thesis, which gave me clarity on career options and what would make my senior year most productive and fulfilling. My current next steps are a summer position at Google as a Legal Specialist, then volunteering in Mexico during the fall with The Jewish Agency for Israel Project TEN, another opportunity that the Brawerman Fellowship connected me to. I’m excited to get started!
Thank you to The Jewish Federation for supporting me during the last four years. I’m beyond grateful.
*Through the Brawerman Fellowship, our Federation develops and sustains a talent pool of Jewish young leaders for our community in perpetuity. The Fellowship provides an annual $10,000 college scholarship — a total of $40,000 over four years — and participation in a larger program that builds leadership skills and further strengthens Fellows’ connection to Jewish life through retreats, a trip to Israel, and other overseas opportunities.