Leadership Initiative for Emerging Professionals


Leadership development for Jewish communal professionals joining the field.

Through the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program, fellowships are awarded each year to outstanding individuals who seek to prepare themselves through graduate training for careers in Jewish Education, Jewish Professional LeadershipJewish Studies, and the Rabbinate/Cantorate.

Please note: The Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program is committed to protecting the health and safety of our applicants, fellows, alumni, faculty, and staff. Given the COVID-19 health crisis, we have shifted our programming online until travel and gathering is deemed safe. In the meantime, we are committed to building rich, intentional, high-quality educational opportunities and connections online. Interviews for Class 33 will be held virtually in March 2021. Orientation for selected Fellows will be held virtually in May 2021. We hope to be in a position to gather in-person for our Summer Institute in August 2021; we will make decisions closer to the date.

Applications Are Closed

Program Overview

The Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program selects exceptional candidates with a strong personal commitment to the Jewish community, a record of demonstrated excellence in academic achievement and the potential to assume significant professional leadership roles in the North American Jewish community.

All Wexner Fellows/Davidson Scholars will participate in four years of Fellowship-wide Institutes and gatherings, regardless of funding status.

These programs build a cohesive community of Fellows while enhancing the leadership skills of each individual Fellow. All Fellows are afforded unique opportunities for ongoing interaction with outstanding Jewish leaders and for extensive collaboration with one other. Fellows receive leadership training, peer support, professional mentoring and networking across career choices and denominational affiliations, both during school and throughout their lives.

The Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program experience extends well beyond the four-year leadership program, as our extensive alumni network serves as a professional community throughout Fellows’ careers.


Trisha Kure, Administrative Associate
Stefanie Zelkind, Director

Eligibility and Application


To apply for the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program, you must be:

  • Entering the first or second year of a full-time degree granting graduate program starting in the Summer or Fall of 2021, based in North America, that will position you to pursue a career as a professional Jewish leader in North America.
  • A citizen of the United States, Canada, or Mexico; or have documentation that allows you to study and to work in that country.
  • Between the ages of 21 and 40 upon entering the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program.

Cohorts are selected based on applicants’ individual records and assessed potential, as well as a commitment to creating a diverse cohort. Therefore, all eligible applicants are encouraged to apply, irrespective of denominational affiliation, gender, racial or ethnic origin, disability, or sexual orientation. Please note that the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program honors the admissions policies of participating educational institutions.


All Wexner Graduate Fellow and Davidson Scholar applicants are required to submit the following through an on-line application:

ESSAYS: The application includes two long essays (4500 characters maximum), one short essay (1000 characters maximum), and many short-answer questions about your academic and educational experiences and professional aspirations.

ACADEMIC TRANSCRIPTS (UNDERGRADUATE, AND IF APPLICABLE, GRADUATE): Transcripts should be uploaded to the application form. Unofficial transcripts will be accepted.

GRE TEST SCORES: If any of the programs to which you are applying require the GRE or other standardized graduate test, please submit your scores as part of your application. If none of your schools require the GRE or a standardized test, you do not need to submit them to The Wexner Foundation.

VIDEO RESPONSE: Applicants must submit a 60-second video in response to a question posted within the application. The video should not be created professionally. Additional guidelines are provided within the application.

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION: Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation as part of the application. At least one must be from an academic instructor who has worked closely with you and one from a supervisor who is well-acquainted with you and your experience in a professional or volunteer setting. If you are in the first year of your graduate program, one of your letters must be from a teacher or academic advisor in your current program (this could suffice as your academic reference). No more than three letters will be accepted.

DOCUMENTATION OF ACCEPTANCE: While you do not need to have been accepted to your graduate institution at the time you submit your application, fellowships will not be formalized until there is official documentation that you have been accepted into the program designated for your career preparation.

JEWISH STUDIES – COPIES OF FUNDING OR FELLOWSHIP OFFERS: Jewish Studies applicants must submit copies of funding or fellowship offers from graduate institutions or other sources if such an offer is extended prior to our interviews. See below for further guidelines.

Graduate Program Criteria

The Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program supports students pursuing graduate programs in Jewish Education, Jewish Professional Leadership, Jewish Studies, and the Rabbinate/Cantorate.

  • Typically, the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program does not support fellows attending graduate programs that are entirely online, without any residency requirement. Graduate programs that, during this current health crisis, are operating online with the intention of returning to in-person classes when it is deemed safe to do so will be considered eligible.
  • If you are applying in a field that is not directly tied to Jewish communal leadership, the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program may advise or require you to supplement your degree with additional professional training.
  • Graduate programs that have not yet been vetted by The Wexner Foundation are subject to approval.
Guidelines for Jewish Studies Applicants

The Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program seeks Jewish Studies applicants who intend to pursue dissertation research on a Jewish Studies-related topic and become university professors in a Jewish Studies discipline and also have a commitment to exercising leadership in the Jewish community at-large, thereby bridging the gap between the university and the community.

In addition to the eligibility criteria outlined for all applicants to the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program, eligibility for Jewish Studies candidates may depend on university admissions policies, some of which distinguish between master’s program and doctoral program admissions. Because the PhD is considered the appropriate terminal degree for academics, the Foundation will only consider applicants who are applying for admission to the following academic programs:

  • A combined MA/PhD program (i.e., where there is only one admission process and the transition from master’s to doctoral student status is essentially automatic)
  • A doctoral program that requires the completion of a master’s degree prior to acceptance into the program
  • A master’s degree program where the candidate clearly demonstrates their intentions to proceed directly into a qualified doctoral program upon completion of the MA degree and a letter of support from an appropriate faculty member. Applicants to master’s degree programs are not eligible if they cannot effectively demonstrate their intent to pursue doctoral studies.
  • A MA in Jewish Studies if the applicant is pursuing another qualified degree concurrently.

Jewish Studies applicants who are selected as Wexner Graduate Fellows are expected to secure tuition/stipend offers from their university. Wexner Fellows who are funded through other sources will be afforded all other privileges of the Graduate Fellowship Program as well as a financial award of $10,000 annually (which can be distributed to the Fellow in smaller increments over more years depending on graduate institutions’ cap on annual outside funding).

The Wexner Foundation reserves the right to make judgments about the eligibility of applicants for Jewish Studies Fellowships.


Individuals who have previously applied for the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program may reapply for the upcoming academic year. That said, the Foundation does not encourage former applicants to re-apply unless you feel certain that a new application will present a significantly different profile of your skills and potential than the previous application.

Re-applicants are required to submit an entirely new application, including new letters of recommendation, as well as an additional statement describing your most recent activities (e.g., additional education, employment, and volunteer work). If you have attended a graduate program since your last application, you will need to submit a transcript and a letter of recommendation from an academic advisor or instructor from that program.

Please note: Former applicants who may have been finalists will not automatically be granted the same status.

Selection Process


Application opens. Applicants must complete an eligibility form as the first step of the application process.


All applications, including re-applications, are due.


Finalists will be invited, via email, to a 30-minute virtual interview with the Selection Committee, comprised of leading professionals who are committed to the fields encompassed by the Fellowship program.

WEEK OF MARCH 8-15, 2021

Finalist interviews will be conducted via Zoom. Finalists must inform the Selection Committee at their interview, if not before, which graduate program they will be attending starting Summer or Fall 2021.

Please note: During the COVID-19 health crisis, these programs may be virtual. If it is not possible to gather in person, a Virtual Gathering will be held on the days listed above, with some additional programming via Zoom in the weeks preceding and following the dates below, not to exceed an additional four hours per month. We will share as much detail as possible in advance of Finalist Interviews.

Orientation (first year)

May 10-12, 2021 (virtually)

Leadership learning calls (first year)

Monthly peer consultations, by Zoom

Summer Institute (every year)

August 22-27, 2021; August 22-26, 2022; August 21-25, 2023, August 19-23, 2024

Winter Institute (every year)

January 17-20, 2021, January 16-19, 2022, January 15-18, 2023, January 14-17, 2024

Mid-Fellowship Retreat (third year)

Three-day program over Shabbat, usually mid-November


*Dates subject to change. 


Wexner Graduate Fellows and Davidson Scholars pursuing careers in Jewish Education, Jewish Professional Leadership, and the Rabbinate/Cantorate will:

  • Be awarded up to $30,000 per year for a two-year term, with the possibility to renew for a third year, only while enrolled full-time in qualifying academic programs, and contingent upon evidence of satisfactory academic achievement and Fellowship participation.
  • Participate in Institutes and programs as outlined below, regardless of funding status.
  • Maintain a strong personal commitment to the Jewish community, a record of demonstrated excellence in academic achievement, and the potential to assume significant professional leadership roles in the North American Jewish community.
  • Commit to working full-time in North America, serving the North American Jewish community, for a minimum of four years upon completion of their graduate programs.

Wexner Graduate Fellows/Davidson Scholars will commit to participate in all fellowship-sponsored programs and institutes.

Wexner Graduate Fellows/Davidson Scholars will commit to working full-time in North America, serving the North American Jewish community, for a minimum of four years upon completion of their graduate programs.

Alumni Offerings

Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Alumni meet annually for institutes centered on themes relevant to modern Jewish life and their professional development. The Wexner Foundation is committed to creating a continental and international web of Jewish professional leaders working together to foster life-long leadership growth and to strengthen Jewish peoplehood.

Meet Our Alumni and Fellows


Wexner Graduate And Field Fellowship Community Coordinating Committee

We help shepherd initiatives, serve as a resource to the Foundation staff, and try to identify ways that Wexner Graduate Fellows/Davidson Scholars, Wexner Field Fellows and alumni can be of service to and make the most of the talent and energy of the Wexner community.

Most significantly, WexCoComm invests time and energy thinking about how to most effectively and efficiently communicate opportunities to members of the Wexner community that could be personally or professionally enriching. Through gauging the interests, issues and concerns of alumni community members, the committee is responsive to those needs and interests that could be appropriately helpful.


History & Partnerships

The Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program was established in 1988 by The Wexner Foundation to encourage promising candidates to successfully meet the challenges of professional Jewish leadership in the North American Jewish community.

In 2005, Leslie and Abigail Wexner launched a philanthropic partnership with William z”l and Karen Davidson. This partnership established an annual cohort of ten Davidson Scholars as part of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Owing to this collaboration with the William Davidson Foundation, ten Fellows in each new fellowship class are selected in the career areas of Jewish Education and Jewish Professional Leadership and designated as Davidson Scholars.

In 2013, The Wexner Foundation launched a partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation to establish the Wexner Field Fellowship and to support alumni of both the WGF/DS and the WFF programs.