Funded in part by grants from the Michael and Alice Kuhn Foundation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

Apply Now. Submit intent-to-apply by Friday, December 11; full application due Monday January 4, 2021.

The T’ruah Rabbinical and Cantorial Student Summer Fellowship in Human Rights offers a select cohort of rabbinical/cantorial students a nine-week experience working in a human rights/social justice organization in New York, learning about human rights in Jewish text and tradition, and gaining the skills to be human rights leaders in their own communities.

The T’ruah summer fellowship was an immersion in many of the most pressing issues of our time. These issues aren’t covered in traditional rabbinic education, and are vital to explore and engage in as we, future rabbis, attempt to weave spirituality and Jewish identity into our everyday realities.

—Rachmiel Gurwitz, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

The fellowship prompted me to think critically about how injustice I see in the world impacts my Jewish life, and how Judaism might speak to these issues of injustice.

—Ariana Captauber, Jewish Theological Seminary

Meet our fellows from previous years

Students work three days a week in partner organizations of T’ruah. These organizations work on issues of human trafficking, workers’ rights, ending mass incarceration, and other areas of T’ruah’s North American work. The remaining two days a week will be devoted to studying general and Jewish perspectives on human rights with rabbis and teachers from many backgrounds, learning skills to be a rabbinic/cantorial human rights leader, and reflecting on the experiences of the summer.

This program is open to all rabbinical and cantorial students.

The program runs from June 7 through August 6, 2021. The program is full time. Fellows receive a stipend of $5,000 for participation in the program. 

Click here for the online application.

Some fellows may also be eligible for internship, rotation, field placement, or independent study credit from their schools. While we cannot guarantee such credit, we will work with you and your school to help you fulfill any requirements for obtaining such credit.

FAQs About T’ruah’s Summer Human Rights Fellowship

How has Covid-19 changed the program?

In 2020, we took the entire fellowship program online, both the seminar days at T’ruah and the internship placement sites. The fellows were fully satisfied with the resulting experience. For summer 2021, we will remain flexible into the spring, as late as is feasible, before deciding whether to run the program fully online, hybrid, or in-person.

I actually loved the online format in a lot of ways. It allowed a lot of flexibility in the learning and space to engage with people from all over.

—Jenna Shaw, Hebrew College

If I can’t move to NYC for the summer, should I still apply?

In an ordinary year, the answer would be no, don’t apply. This year, given Covid-19 and the possibility of the program running online, we encourage you to apply, but please be up-front with us about the challenges of relocating. We will select the strongest cohort of fellows and then work with you to make the summer a success.

Where will I be working?

You will be working in a New York City-based community organization. We will work hard to match fellows with organizations that can use your unique skills, and in whose issues you have an interest. For this reason, we have identified more potential placements than we will have fellows. After the six fellows have been selected and confirmed, they will have the opportunity to interview with potential placements. Based on these interviews, we will select the fellows and the final placements. In past years, students have interned at The Bronx Defenders, Community Voices Heard, Faith In New YorkSafe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program, The Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project, and the Women’s Prison Association’s Blackbird Project.

What kinds of work will I be doing?

The organization will identify a project that you will work on all summer. In addition, you will be expected to do whatever will help the organization to meet their goals. We require, however, that the bulk of your work be in the field with people affected by the issue on which the group is working. You will not primarily be doing desk work. In addition, you will have the opportunity to participate in learning experiences, such as sitting in on board or staff meetings, attending events, shadowing people within the organization, or taking part in other experiences that meet your learning goals and that are appropriate for the organization.

What kind of mentorship will I have?

You will be assigned a supervisor at your work site, who will meet with you on a weekly basis. T’ruah staff will always be available to you for conversation and for help with issues that come up along the way. In addition, speakers and teachers who meet with the group, many of whom are rabbis, will generally make themselves available for follow-up conversations.

What is the exact schedule of the program? What are we doing when we’re not working?

In previous, non-Covid summers, the two days a week at T’ruah run a 9:30 a.m. -4 p.m. schedule. Some placement sites may require slightly later hours on some days (10-6, 11-7), so that you can better engage with volunteers or the community you are serving, many of whom work during the day. This will be negotiated and agreed upon before the summer starts. When you’re not at work, you’re free to enjoy New York City in the summertime.

In 2020, we ran on a modified schedule that was more humane for Zoom fatigue.

What qualities are you looking for in applicants?

We are looking for people from a range of backgrounds and who bring a range of perspectives. More than anything else, we are looking for curiosity and an openness to learning from all people. We will also be intentional about crafting a group that includes people with different backgrounds, denominational affiliations, and types of Jewish practice. Prior human rights or social justice experience is not a requirement.

What do you require from me?

In addition to completing your work assignments and participating in all learning programs, we ask you to design and implement a follow-up project that draws on what you learned during the summer. The final installment of your stipend will come after the implementation of this program in the fall.

I don’t live in New York. Where will I stay during the program?

We do not have housing available but will be happy to help connect you with New York City housing resources. Apartments are often available for sublet as graduate students who live in New York go away for the summer.

Other questions? Please email office@truah.org.

The Application Process

Applications are due January 4, 2021.

All applicants will interview with T’ruah staff in the first half of January. We conduct all interviews online, even if you live in New York City, so as to put everyone on a level playing field.

Finalists will be notified by mid-January and will have one week to accept the offer. Some students will also be wait-listed.

Once the group of six fellows has been selected, we will match each fellow with a placement site. We take a variety of factors into consideration, including the fellows’ interests and the sites’ needs. This process should be complete by late March.