The American Academy in Jerusalem


AAJ Pilot Fellows enjoy lunch at the house of entrepreneur Naim Awasat

Modeled on the successes of the American Academies in Rome and Berlin, the American Academy in Jerusalem is a new fellowship for senior-level artists and cultural leaders, taking place from October 23 through December 23, 2011. The program provides each Fellow with travel to Israel, accommodations, a living stipend, and additional resources to develop individual projects emphasizing social engagement. The Foundation for Jewish Culture established the Academy in order to participate in a larger civic effort to strengthen Jerusalem—one of the most extraordinary cities in the world—as an international destination for art and culture.

During their stay in Jerusalem, Fellows will work with local cultural and/or academic institutions where they will teach master classes, serve as mentors or otherwise participate in the life of these institutions in order to interact with their peers. The Fellows will have multiple opportunities to engage with Jerusalem’s diverse populations through projects emphasizing social engagement and will be expected to make public presentations about their current work in Israel and when they return to the United States.

2011 Season

Click to download the 2011 evaluation

The Fellows for Fall 2011 were selected from a pool of over 100 nominations by a distinguished panel. These remarkable artists are sharing their cultural talents, vision and expertise in order to foster greater dialogue and understanding between people of the United States and Jerusalem:

Lynne Avadenka, Visual Artist

Donald Byrd, Choreographer

David Herskovits, Theater Artist

David Karnovsky, Urban Planner

Lynne Avadenka creates art inspired by the philosophical and physical presence of the book. Avadenka has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. She was awarded a Kresge Fellowship in 2009. Her work is included in numerous collections including the British Library, London; The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; The Jewish Museum, New York; The Library of Congress and the Meermano Museum of the Book, the Netherlands.

Donald Byrd is the Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle. He is a Bessie Award winner (The Minstrel Show) and received a Tony award nomination for his choreography of The Color Purple on Broadway. Byrd’s productions also include The Harlem Nutcracker, White Noise,and Aida. Byrd’s proposed research project is to use the performing arts to explore the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a perpetual machine of failed attempts and disillusionment, as envisioned by writer Amos Oz.

David Herskovits is the Founding Artistic Director of Target Margin Theater in New York City. He has directed for many theaters and presenters including The Lincoln Center Festival, Theatre for a New Audience, and The Spoleto Festival USA. Herskovits’ proposed research project is to develop a new play based on Yiddish theater, the early 20th century avant-garde movement, and their unique moment of intersection.

David Karnovsky is General Counsel to the New York City Department of City Planning. A particular focus of Karnovsky’s work has been on the use of zoning incentives to preserve existing cultural assets, as well as to create new open spaces and artistic venues. Karnovsky’s proposed research project is to explore the use of similar strategies to promote arts and culture in Jerusalem as a tool for growth and revitalization working with government officials, arts groups and others.

Launch coverage: New York Daily News, the Jewish Week launch, and the Jewish Daily Forward

Program coverage: The New York Jewish Week, The Jerusalem Post, JTNews (Washington State), Ma’ariv, Ha’aretz, Bloomberg

Application and Selection

Application to the American Academy in Jerusalem is made via nomination from experts in various fields. A distinguished, multidisciplinary panel reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

The 2011 panel included:

Tom Freudenheim (Panel Chair), a museum consultant, writer, and lecturer. He has served as assistant secretary for museums at the Smithsonian Institution and as deputy director of the Jewish Museum Berlin. As a board member of the Foundation for Jewish Culture, he serves as co-chair of the Arts Advisory Council and chaired the 2011 American Academy in Jerusalem panel.

Gannit Ankori, Professor of Art History and Theory, Department of Fine Arts and Chair of Israeli Art, Schusterman Center of Israel Studies at Brandeis University. She had served as the Henya Sharef Professor of Humanities and Chair of the Department of Art History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Michal Govrin, an award-winning novelist, poet and theater director. Govrin has published ten books of poetry and fiction. In 2010, she has been selected by the Salon du Livre of Paris as one of the most influential writers of the past 30 years. She is the academic chair of the Theater Department of The Emunah College, and lecturer at the Schechter Institute, both in Jerusalem.

Robert Marx, a theater essayist and noted Metropolitan Opera commentator. He serves as vice president of The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc. Previously Marx was director of the theatre programs at both the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts and was the first executive director of Lincoln Center’s NY Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Joshua Sirefman, an urban planner and former Director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and Rebuilding, New York City. He participated as an American Academy in Jerusalem Fellow during the 2010 pilot program.

Jedediah Wheeler, Executive Director, Arts and Culture Programming at Montclair State University. He has produced, managed and presented unique works in theater, dance, music, opera and performance art for leading performing arts centers and major international festivals such as Lincoln Center’s “Serious Fun!” since 1976.

Click here for information about fellows and projects during the 2010 AAJ pilot. For further information, please contact Andrew Ingall, Program Officer for the Arts, at

Program Funders

The American Academy in Jerusalem has received major support from the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the Leichtag Family Foundation, the Morningstar foundation, and the Russell Berrie Foundation. It has received additional support from Marc and Anita Abramowitz, Anne Abramson, Floy Kaminsky, the Jerusalem Foundation, Jerusalem Season of Culture, and the U.S. State Department.

Partner Organizations

The American Center, America House/U.S. Embassy, Artspace, Batsheva Dance Company, Beit Avi Chai, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design/Yaffo 23, Gerard Behar Center, HaZira Performance Art Arena, The Hebrew University of Jersualem, The Incubator Project, The Israel Museum, The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Jerusalem Cinematheque, The Jerusalem Intercultural Center, The Jerusalem Municipality, Jerusalem Print Workshop, the Jerusalem International YMCA, The Lab/New Center for the Performing Arts, Mamuta at the Daniela Passal Art and Media Center, Mikro Theater, Psik Theater, School of Visual Theater, Shalem – Jerusalem Dance Festival, Theater Company Jerusalem, Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Vertigo Dance Company.

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