American Jewish World Service Names Global Justice Fellows for 2017

At Time When Voices of Intolerance are on the Rise Worldwide, Fifteen Jewish Leaders from Across the U.S. Affirm Commitment to Human Rights

American Rabbinical Leaders Visit the Dominican Republic on Human Rights Educational Mission

NEW YORK, NY – American Jewish World Service (AJWS,) the leading Jewish organization working to promote human rights and end poverty in the developing world, today announced the selection of fifteen Jewish leaders—including fourteen rabbis and one cantor—from across the United States as the 2017 class of Global Justice Fellows. A selective program, the Fellowship educates and trains American Jewish leaders to advocate effectively as Jews in support of international policies that advance the human rights of some of the poorest and most oppressed people on the planet. The 2017 Fellowship commences with an educational trip to the Dominican Republic from January 8, 2017 to January, 15, 2017, during which the fellows will study the plight of Dominicans of Haitian descent whose citizenship rights have been stripped because of their ethnic heritage, rendering them stateless.

Announced at a time when voices of intolerance are on the rise in the United States and around the world, the 2017 Global Justice Fellows were selected for their commitment to pursuing justice for people in the developing world by engaging their own congregations, communities and the United States government. As many in the United States and around the world expect American international policy to make human rights a lesser priority in the coming four years, the fellows will play a key role in educating their communities, the American public and our elected leaders about crucial global issues, including the plight of ethnic minorities whose citizenship rights are under attack or have been abrogated by their governments.

“At AJWS, we are working to create a world which is anchored by equality and justice and honors the rights and dignity of every person, regardless of who they are or where they live,” said Robert Bank, President and CEO of AJWS. “Our work to repair the world will be bolstered by our 2017 class of Global Justice Fellows, who will stand up as American Jewish leaders for the rights of some of the poorest and most oppressed people worldwide,” added Bank.

The 2017 class of fellows includes 14 rabbis and one cantor, who live across the United States in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. In addition to traveling to the Dominican Republic, each participant in AJWS’s Global Justice Fellowship will engage in seven months of programming that includes study with AJWS staff including Global Ambassador Ruth Messinger, learning from AJWS grantees, meetings with government officials in Washington, DC and training on community activism and organizing. Most crucially, this group of leaders will raise global justice issues in their communities and across the country, and will work to influence decision-makers to improve policies that directly affect those in the developing world.

“Our Global Justice Fellowship enhances the ability of American Jewish leaders to stand up proudly as Jews in the fight against inequality and injustice around the world in solidarity with people of other backgrounds,” Bank continued. “Now, more than ever, we need American Jewish leaders who are inspired by our community’s enduring values and motivated by the lessons of Jewish history to stand in solidarity with people worldwide who are committed to equality and justice for all.”

The Global Justice Fellows were selected through a competitive process and represent a diverse array of denominations, communities, professional experiences and networks. The fellows include:


  • Rabbi Serena Eisenberg of Hillel, the Center for Jewish Life at Stanford University
  • Rabbi Elie Spitz of Congregation B’nai Israel
  • Rabbi Daniel Stein of Congregation B’nai Shalom


  • Rabbi Josh Ratner of the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale University and of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater New Haven


  • Rabbi Bruce Elder of Highland Park, Illinois
  • Rabbi Samuel N. Gordon of Sukkat Shalom

New York

  • Cantor Jill Abramson of Westchester Reform Temple
  • Rabbi Ayelet Cohen from the David H. Sonabend Center for Israel at JCC Manhattan
  • Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism
  • Rabbi David Ingber of New York, New York
  • Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
  • Amichai Lau-Lavie of Lab/Shul NYC and of Storahtelling, Inc.
  • Rabbi Larry Sebert of Town and Village Synagogue


  • Rabbi Annie Lewis of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Rabbi Peter Rigler of Temple Sholom


For More Information

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