$100,000 distributed through AVF
BYFI named to Slingshot, a list of top 50 innovative Jewish organizations First AVF grant given to an Amit
Year Fifteen: Reflections by Yonah Krakowsky (‘02)
To be perfectly honest, in the ten years since my fellowship summer, I no longer feel deeply connected to the Bronfman alumni community. I’m still extremely close with some of the friends I made but, contrary to the hoards of alumni on the listserve who seek seder spots when travelling in Timbuktu, the BYFI community isn’t the first place I’d turn should I find myself in Alaska for Shabbat. As a urology resident, I’m on call more hours than I’m not. I feel very much a part of my Orthodox Jewish community in Toronto. The truth is I have no interest in interacting with pluralistic minyanim – especially if the kiddush is cold and healthy. I’ll
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Reflections bronfmanIM 2012
never be interested in subletting a two bedroom apartment with a vegan, nonsmoking roommate who has a cat named Chatol. I’m an apathetically Orthodox Jew with an attention span of a desperate housewife; I haven’t gone to fellowship retreats or engaged in intellectual conversations about my Jewish identity in a decade. But I have to say: when I check my email in between checking out ailing urethras, it’s the highlight of my day. I read the emails with enthusiasm; I’m excited to get them. Let me put it this way: I emailed Ava first when I switched to Gmail because I really wanted to keep getting those emails. It’s hard to say exactly why I love the listserve emails so much. Some of the emails bother me to no end, some make me laugh, and some provide really interesting food for thought. The listserv is what pulls me out of the hospital, out of Toronto, and into different worldviews Is that all that remains from my Fellowship experience in my everyday life — a cast of misfits holding my perfectly clean inbox hostage? I mean, I only have positive feelings towards my summer but I feel like a lot of what I learned did not necessarily stick with me; it was like washable paint for the year. I don’t think it changed the trajectory of who I became religiously, psychospiritually, personally, athletically, or environmentally. I’m not a conservative, close minded jerk — I’ve volunteered in Haiti, treating sore throats and yeast infections — but for me it has nothing to do with ‘tikkun olam.’ Whenever I see those words I shudder. Whenever I see the word ‘pluralism’ I shudder. They remind me of granola and frilly dresses. But I’m fascinated by the opportunity to still tap into and hear from people who think that the world’s
primary concern is the plight of intermarried children with no access to etrogs. I actually maintain a sub-listserv of my friends to whom I forward the emails I find most outrageous with my original commentary. Yes, part of it is about making fun of people but it’s deeper than that. It’s intelligent people with interesting personalities sharing their opinions and creating a conversation. I like having my finger on the pulse of this part of the Jewish community that I otherwise would not encounter in the life I live. Apart from visiting the Haaretz website once a day, it’s the only thing that connects me to the broader Jewish community and issues like gender and sexuality and different opinions on Israel. So in the end, 10 years after a wonderful, engaging summer that certainly challenged the impressionable, amorphous teenager I was then, I am left with more than nothing. In my own way, I suppose, I am deeply involved in the Bronfman community — albeit through my inbox. I love being connected to the listserv, and who knows, one day in the future, when the 2020 fellows are taking off to their adventure, I might even post.
Yonah Krakowsky (Fellow ’02) was a Bronfman Fellow before Facebook, iPods, and “Two and Half Men.” He currently lives in Toronto, Canada where he is a resident in the potent field of urology. He thinks his Bronfman year was the best of them all because they got to meet A.B Yehoshua.