B’NAI B’RITH IMPACT
The Bershad Scholarship Fund Changes Lives of Winners
Created in the 1970s with cooperation from what was then the B’nai B’rith Career and Counseling Services office in New York City, the Bershad Scholarship Fund has supported 30 students to date, originally awarding scholarships of $10,000 paid over four years.
As of September 2020, the Bershad/B’nai B’rith Scholarship Committee increased the scholarship amounts to $20,000 annually to make an even more significant difference in the lives of the recipients. The four winning students will each receive $80,000 paid over four years.
Michael Bershad, whose family lacked the funds to send him to college as a young adult, established the scholarship fund to honor the memory of his wife, Florence. Upon his passing, his family added Michael’s name to the scholarship fund as well.
The four 2020 recipients are: Talia Levine, Teaneck, New Jersey, who enrolled at the Barnard/JTS List College, Double Degree Program; Alexa Von Mueffling, New York, New York, who is now attending Barnard College; Ella Serfaty, East Meadow, New York, who is attending Washington University in St. Louis; and Uriel Sussman, Valley Stream, New York, who is attending Yeshiva University.
The essay question, a key component of the application, asked each candidate to share why they applied for the scholarship and how they would use it to support the Jewish community in the future. Through their essays, each selected student demonstrated their commitment to improving the lives of others. Active leaders in their high schools and synagogues, they plan to continue their lives of service as they pursue degrees in medicine, law, community engagement and education.
Rhonda Barad, who chaired the selection committee, shared, “It was my honor to serve as Chair of the Bershad scholarships. It is our hope that our decisions have a long-term impact on each of their futures and that of the Jewish Community.”
In addition to Barad as chair, the selection committee included: Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president, New York Board of Rabbis; community leader Stephanie Garry; Charles O. Kaufman, B’nai B’rith International president; Seth Riklin, chair of the B’nai B’rith Executive Board of Directors; and Michael Gellman, treasurer, B’nai B’rith.
After extensive interviews with the finalists, the committee members shared that it was a difficult task to choose just four from the many who applied.