Jun 21, 2010 — Three outstanding Yeshiva University students—Michael Cinnamon, Michael Emerson and Avi Miller—have been awarded the coveted Wexner Foundation Graduate Study Fellowship for the 2010-11 academic year. The fellowships, launched by The Wexner Foundation in 1988, are bestowed upon 20 candidates interested in pursuing graduate training for careers in the cantorate, Jewish education, Jewish professional leadership and the rabbinate.
As participants of the four-year leadership program, Cinnamon, Emerson and Miller will be awarded an annual stipend of $20,000 for a two-year term with the possibility to renew for a third year. Emerson is also a Davidson Scholar, bestowed upon Wexner Fellows who intend to pursue careers in Jewish education or Jewish communal leadership.
“The Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program is continually impressed with the caliber of scholar and leader that has been coming from Yeshiva University,” said Or Mars, director of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program. “These are young people who have a passion for Jewish life and the ability to make a huge contribution through their professional and personal qualities. They also make a significant impact on the Fellowship program bringing their varied perspectives to our ongoing conversation about exercising leadership in Jewish life.”
As part of the Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Honors Program at Yeshiva College, Cinnamon ‘10YC, of Atlanta, GA, double majored in history and Jewish studies. In his senior year, he served as editor-in-chief of YU student paper The Commentator. While at YC, he was also an undergraduate fellow at the Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; served on the boards of student journals, academic conferences and on the editorial staff of a festschrift for professor Dr. Louis Feldman; founded a monthly fiction book club; and played on the YU Ultimate Frisbee team. He is working toward an MA in Talmudic studies at Bernard Revel Graduate School and will begin his studies toward semikhah [rabbinic ordination] at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) in the summer. Upon completion, he plans to pursue a doctorate in history. “YU has given me the opportunity to get an excellent education while at the same time building leadership skills,” said Cinnamon.
Emerson, born in Boston, MA, and raised in Memphis, Tenn., completed his undergraduate work at Columbia University in 2009 with a major in medieval Jewish history. He is currently enrolled in RIETS’ semikhah program. “I enjoy challenging traditional models of education and forcing people to open themselves up to different ideas and difficult perspectives,” said Emerson, who has spent the year learning in the Gruss Kollel on the Yeshiva University Israel campus. He will return to New York next year to simultaneously complete his third year of semikhah study at RIETS while studying full-time in New York University’s dual Master of Arts program in education and Jewish studies and Hebrew and Judaic studies. “YU has given me a strong foundation in Torah learning and Rabbinic professional skills, including pastoral psychology and a broad perspective on the Jewish community.”
A North Woodmere, NY, native, Miller is a 2009 graduate of Princeton University, where he majored in philosophy and minored in Jewish studies. Miller, who will begin his official semikhah study at RIETS in the fall of 2010, credits YU with offering an unparalleled Torah education that will provide him with the strong foundation he needs to become a rabbinic leader and Torah scholar. “Studying under the guidance of Rabbi Jeremy Wieder, I have been exposed not only to a brilliant educator and Talmudic mind, but a role model who exercises tremendous rabbinic leadership,” said Miller. “While Yeshiva University is home to a diversity of competing hashkafas [philosophies], I will continue to be enriched by the shaqla ve-tarya, the back and forth debates contained within her walls and hopefully find my own voice from within.”