Community News

Introducing 2015 Fishel Fellow, Maia Ferdman

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is proud to announce Maia Ferdman as the new Fishel Fellow. Like former Fishel Fellow Brianna Fischer before her, Maia will pave her own unique path during this two-year paid fellowship. As a Fellow, she will apply the leadership training she receives and her hands-on community service experiences to effect change within the global Jewish community.  

“I am so excited for this incredible opportunity that The Jewish Federation has given me. I know the next two years will be full of learning, growth, and new experiences, and I could not be more thankful for this amazing opportunity. I’m honored to be the next Fishel Fellow,” said Maia.

Maia will have a few short days following her graduation from UCLA this month before heading to India to begin her two-month placement within the American Jewish Joint Distribute Committee (JDC) Gabriel Project Mumbai. There, she will be volunteering in food distribution and literacy programs among the children of the Mumbai slums. In late August, she will begin her year-long overseas placement in Sofia, Bulgaria, working with JDC’s J Regions. She is looking forward to working with the Jewish community in the Baltics and the Balkan Region. Following her JDC placements, she will spend three months in Israel learning about and assisting with our Federation’s work there. Finally, in the fall of 2016, she will return to Los Angeles to join our Federation team for nine months and complete her fellowship here.   

“We need dynamic young Jewish professionals and leaders who understand Jewish Peoplehood and our sacred responsibility to heal the world,” said Jay Sanderson, President and CEO of The Jewish Federation. “Maia is an incredible young woman. As our second Fishel Fellow, she will be on an exciting and rewarding journey touching our brothers and sisters in India, in Bulgaria, and in Israel and then returning back to our community to play an important role in our future work.”

The Fishel Fellowship was created specifically for young adults who have a passion for the Jewish community and global service, and was named in honor of former Federation President John Fishel, a leading advocate for global Jewish social entrepreneurship who helped develop the program. “The Jewish world in the 21st Century remains highly complex and exciting. The design of the Fishel Fellowship will give Maia the opportunity to experience highly diverse Jewish communities in different parts of the globe, each with their own challenges. She will return with extraordinary memories and a broader vision of contemporary Jewish life that will enhance her professional future,” said Fishel.

Maia will be receiving an M.A. in Latin American Studies, a B.A. in Global Studies, and a minor in English. At UCLA, she has strived to combine her passions for education, writing, and international studies by pursuing a variety of activities. She is a supervisor and peer learning facilitator at the UCLA Athletics Peer Learning Lab, where she helps student athletes become independent learners. Her passion for education and dialogue was further fueled by her trip to the Middle East with the Olive Tree Initiative. She was also a Daily Bruin opinion columnist and a journalism intern at the International Rescue Committee in Los Angeles; these positions have shown her the powerful potential words and stories have to sway and connect people. Maia was also a Campus Engagement Intern at UCLA Hillel and completed research for her B.A. and M.A. about Jewish diaspora community development.

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