The Tarbut Fellowship

The Tarbut Fellowship was created to gather a selective
group of passionate individuals who are engaged
in impacting the future of the Jewish community and society.

The Tarbut Fellowship aims to inspire and empower an already talented cohort of leaders by learning together and increasing their tools to answer the needs of organizations and Jewish initiatives. Participants from diverse professional and Jewish backgrounds will be expected to work on social and communal issues, cultural innovation as well as personal growth. They will be encouraged to challenge their beliefs, refine their sense of self and role in society and establish a culture of philanthropy and volunteerism in their society.

The program is grounded in Jewish learning and stories. It is not an advocate for religious observance.

Tarbut is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet, learn, rethink and re-envision the world together with an exceptional group of professionals from different fields – from art to science to business and beyond.

The two year fellowship will launch with parallel inaugural cohorts: one in Hungary and one in Poland. It is inspired by the Wexner Heritage Program in the United States. The program includes: an afternoon meeting every second week with exceptional international scholars, and four longer retreats in Europe, Israel and the United States. The program will only happen once in every country.

The fellowship launches in 2019 with two cohorts, one in Hungary and one in Poland, with new communities in Europe joining in the future. We will participate in international alumni networks of powerful thinkers and doers.

Fellows completing the program will be able to connect with alumni networks of the Wexner Foundation, the JDC and others, gaining access to creative, inspiring people with significant influence in the USA, Israel and globally.

Three pillars
of the program


To deepen Jewish knowledge and confidence. The curriculum will focus on culture, politics, the arts and history using Jewish narratives and texts as the lens through which to examine today’s world and one’s own possibilities.

Transformative Leadership

Training based on adaptive leadership theory and management best practices. The program also aims to bring a model of how to build well-functioning boards, which will be transparent, accountable and sustainable as a tool for leadership.


In addition to the learning and training, the program in the second year asks participants to put theory into practice by working on concrete projects with organizations of their choosing. This part of the program will also focus on establishing a culture of fundraising, team work, optimism, creativity, volunteerism and philanthropy.


The Jewish library

During our study we will concentrate on the Jewish narrative. We will explore the development of this narrative through major texts including the Bible, Talmud, commentary, drama and art. We will explore these ideas through the lenses of both how they formed the Jewish community of the 21st century and how to resolve the challenges that the modern world has brought to us. The program builds on Jewish wisdom from both traditional and secular sources as a way of constructing a vision of Jewish life for the future.

The Jewish history

Leadership studies have shown that historical knowledge is directly connected to the vision of the future. By looking at major issues, historical moments, contemporary challenges and significant personalities, we will analyze the past to make decisions in the present. Each cohort will study their own unique national Jewish history, art and culture. Because of the unique culture and contribution of each and every Jewish community, we will also learn about the different European, American and Israeli communities.


In every generation Jewish leaders must confront crises and opportunities.  This will not be a conventional leadership program; it will emphasize the dangers of leadership and offer keys to survival. The approach aims to help participants confront the real issues in organizational and communal life and learn how to address unresolved conflicts, as well as the meaning and purpose in the difficult process of change. The theory is based on teachings from the Harvard Business School and School of Government.


At the heart of this project is the articulation of what is a community. The Jewish learning will be ultimately focused not on learning Jewish content, but in coming to know each other. The narrative will locate our communal position in the long Jewish story. “Where are we in the Jewish story?” We believe that we are in this community together. In practice, we will also discover the best practices of building voluntary boards, running meetings, fundraising, structuring an organization and establishing its rules and regulations.

Why Hungary & Poland?

No other community has contributed as much to the secular world as the Jewish community of Hungary; no other community in the recent past has contributed as much to religious Judaism as the Polish community. Both of these communities have begun to revive themselves in the past 30 years, creating a special power that the Jewish world must learn about. One of the goals of the project is to establish a shared language in order to allow Polish and Hungarian voices to join the global Jewish conversation.

Why Tarbut?

The primary meaning of the Hebrew word Tarbut is culture. Before World War II it referred to the network of innovative schools in Eastern Europe. The Tarbut Schools provided high quality secular education while providing a space for Jews to meet and learn together with the rest of society. With the name Tarbut we want to honor that legacy, its excellence, energy and vision.


Cost of the

A 500 USD donation to any organization of your choice. In this way each fellow will enter the program by acting on our value of philanthropy.


Applications are by nomination only. Ask for nomination from Jewish organizations and professionals!


2019 Application Timeline

Until February 24th
Nomination period
14 January - 24 February
Application opens
February - March
Interviews for program finalists
The cohort will be announced


May 2019
The program begins with a retreat in Slovenia (4 days)
Between September and June 2019-2020 and 2020-2021
Participation in biweekly afternoon meetings (3 hours)
March 2020
International retreat in Odessa (4 days)
June 2020
International retreat in Israel (one week)
August 2021
International retreat in the USA (one week)

The founding director of the Tarbut Fellowship is Rabbi Michael Paley, and it is a project of the JDC – an extraordinary
organization creating social impact through community building and education around the world.

This project is supported by anonymous philanthropists.