UJA-Federation of New York

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Shapiro Family Fellowship

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The Shapiro Family Fellowship is a highly selective, yearlong experience designed to cultivate future leaders of the New York Jewish community through high-level discussion with peers, leaders, and mentors in the United States and Israel. The Shapiro Family Fellowship believes that a deepened understanding of the complexities of Israel is core to inspiring future change-makers. The fellowship, conceived and funded by the New York-based Shapiro family, is operated by UJA-Federation of New York.

Candidates for the fellowship must be between 22- and 28-years-old, live in the greater New York metropolitan area, and must have traveled to Israel at least once prior to application.

The fellowship includes:

  • Yearlong programming that provides meaningful personal and professional development, and deepened knowledge of Israel, the New York Jewish community, and UJA-Federation of New York.
  • A 10-day trip to Israel where fellows will explore internal social, economic, and political topics and issues of Jewish identity; connect with Israeli peers; and meet with Israeli professionals from parallel work fields.
  • Access to the growing network of Shapiro Family Fellowship Alumni and special event opportunities throughout the year.

For specific questions about the fellowship please contact Shannon Sarna at .

A Message from the Shapiros

The Shapiro Family Fellowship is modeled on the experiences of family members who were inspired and invigorated by interactions with Israelis when visiting Israel in their late teens and twenties. Once they had a basic familiarity with Israeli life and culture, they found that subsequent visits could be more direct, revealing, and rewarding.

The centerpiece of the one-year fellowship is a 10-day trip to Israel. Fellows meet with national leaders and Israeli peers, professionals, and experts in their chosen careers. Upon return to New York, fellows take part in exclusive programs and workshops, and attend high-profile lectures over the balance of the fellowship year (March 2014 – March 2015).

The fellowship experience has evolved as each group of fellows helps shape the program for future classes. The goal of this program is to deepen the fellows' connections to Israel by providing meaningful links to Israelis and Israeli society. Relationships between the fellows and their American and Israeli peers and mentors should provide an ongoing source of support for positive social, political, career development, and enhance the participants' commitment to the Jewish community.

Shapiro Fellowship Staff

Shannon Sarna

Shannon Sarna is the project manager for the Shapiro Family Fellowship and works as part of the Emerging Leaders & Philanthropists team at UJA-Federation of New York. Shannon previously served as communications manager for the Samuel Bronfman Foundation for four years, where she had the privilege to work closely with the principals of the foundation to plan community events throughout North America; work with grantees on creating authentic media strategies; and manage the public relations for Edgar M. Bronfman’s book, Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance. Shannon has also served as special assistant to President Emeritus Avraham Infeld and development associate for donors relations at Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, where she worked closely with Hillel’s International Board of Governors. Shannon studied Comparative Government and Spanish Language and Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Shannon lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, with her husband, their rescue dog, Otis, and daughter.

Jeremy Leigh

Jeremy Leigh has been serving as education consultant for the Shapiro Family Fellowship since 2009. Jeremy was born in London, United Kingdom, and immigrated to Israel in 1992, having completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in Jewish History at University College London and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Over the years, Jeremy has lectured at numerous academic institutions in Jerusalem. He is currently a lecturer in Jewish history and Israel studies at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, and the Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad. Until recently, he taught Israeli Cinema at the Rothberg School of the Hebrew University. In 2002, Jeremy founded Jewish Journeys, a project concerned with developing innovative educational travel to Jewish sites in Europe, North Africa, and North America. Parallel to this, he’s authored many Jewish travel books, the latest being Jewish Journeys and Jews Must Go: Reflections on the Jewish Grand Tour. Jeremy lives in Jerusalem, Israel, with his wife and three daughters.

Ari Rudolph

Ari Rudolph is a planning executive in the Commission on the Jewish People at UJA-Federation of New York, overseeing the global Jewish peoplehood philanthropic grant portfolio. Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Ari completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Witwatersrand in Finance and Economics. In 2002, Ari moved to Israel, where he served in the Nahal Infantry Unit of the IDF. He worked at Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington in Washington, D.C., and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel Research Fellowship in Israel. He has a master’s degree in Diplomacy and National Security from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Ari lives in Riverdale, New York, with his wife and two children.


Read what past fellows have to say about this one-of-a-kind experience.

"I have been on two other organized trips to Israel but the Shapiro Fellowship trip was unlike any other. It was transformative in its ability to present such a nuanced and balanced perspective on Israeli society and I feel incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity." Stella Binkevich, Class Six

"The Shapiro Family Fellowship opened my eyes to the diversity of culture and responsibility that we share as modern Jews in the diaspora. I will treasure my memories of the experience as well as the relationships that came out of it." Paul Lucas, Class Two

"The Fellowship was a non-stop journey through the various facets that make up Israeli and Jewish society and culture. It was very exciting to couple that educational experience with professional development getting to meet with specialists in our respective fields." Jesse Ash, Class Three

"The Shapiro Fellowship provided me an avenue to engage with the Jewish community, both here and in Israel, in ways I never thought possible. I've challenged my beliefs and developed a more nuanced understanding of the most important issues facing the Jewish people, while building a diverse network of other engaged Jewish professionals who care about those same issues." David Dworin, Class Six

Learn more about the Class Seven Fellows.

Learn more about the Class Six Fellows.