Medad Lytton of Atlanta and Lillian Glushka of Athens are among 26 members of the high school Class of 2019 named winners of the Bronfman Fellowship on Thursday, June 7.
The winners were selected from more than 220 applicants across North America.
They will participate in a five-week program of study and travel in Israel, then rigorous programming during their senior year related to pluralism, social responsibility and Jewish texts. They also will interact with Israeli peers chosen for a parallel fellowship, Amitei Bronfman.
Medad is a Young Israel of Toco Hills member who has attended Atlanta Jewish Academy since moving to Atlanta with his family three years ago from Albany, N.Y. He plays trumpet in Georgia State University’s Rialto Youth Jazz Orchestra and is the 2018-19 editor in chief of the student newspaper.
The son of Rachel Anisfeld and Georgia State law professor Timothy Lytton said he applied for the Bronfman Fellowship at the urging of a cousin who participated three years ago, Tali Anisfeld. She told him it was a great experience that opened her mind to new ideas and created close friendships.
“I’m hoping, No. 1, to find an intellectual community of my peers interested in ideas about Jewish thought, Israel policy, stuff like that,” Medad said.
He’s also looking forward to returning to Israel, where he lived for seven months during the fourth grade.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to have this experience,” he said.
Lillian, the daughter of Iris Tropp and John Glushka, has attended Athens Academy since the fifth grade. Her family is affiliated with Congregation Children of Israel and the Ma’ayan Re’ut chavurah at University of Georgia Hillel.
In addition to academic success — she was a semifinalist for the Governor’s Honors Program in Spanish — she is a performing and visual artist.
As a performer, she has won local, regional and state awards for her piano playing and has attended the Brevard Summer Music Institute, and she sings with the academy’s Spartan Voices club. She studies aerial dance and teaches trapeze classes.
In the visual arts, she is especially interested in drawing and photography.
She said she learned about the fellowship from the head of her school, John Thorsen, and was drawn to it as an opportunity to connect with Jewish peers from diverse backgrounds, “is something that is lacking in my life at the moment.”
“I’m really excited to learn more about my own Jewish identity and the unique perspectives of fellow Jews,” she wrote in an email to the AJT.
Edgar Bronfman, the former Seagram CEO and Jewish philanthropist, founded the fellowship in 1987. He died in 2013.
“Edgar Bronfman would have relished the opportunity to get to know this year’s fellows,” said Becky Voorwinde, the program’s executive director. “They are a passionate, inquisitive, talented and incredibly bright bunch. I look forward to seeing them challenge and inspire one another and their communities throughout their lives.”
The fellowship promotes the study of Jewish texts, traditions, history and culture so fellows can engage with one another and the world. The faculty members include Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, the executive director of the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University; Annie Polland, the executive director of the American Jewish Historical Society; and Jon Levisohn, Jewish education professor at Brandeis University.
Adam Bronfman, the president of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, which funds the fellowship, said the 26 students “impressed and heartened” him.
“The energy, diversity and intellectual firepower of this group speak to my father’s belief that young people can change the world in ways that previous generations couldn’t have envisioned,” he said. “My father treasured the fellowship as an investment in the Jewish future, and I am proud to continue his work. … I look forward to getting to know the 2018 fellows personally and to joining some of those conversations myself.”
The 26 fellows are from 11 states and Canada with religious backgrounds that include Chabad, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and secular.
The more than 1,200 Bronfman Fellowship alumni include seven Rhodes scholars, 18 Fulbright scholars, 32 Wexner fellows and 24 Dorot fellows. Novelists Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Jonathan Safran Foer and Dara Horn are program alumni.