Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Five Proud 20th Century Jews Who Changed the World

July 25, 2013 12:01 am 16 comments

20th Century Proud Jews Who Changed the World: Albert Einstein. Photo: Wiki Commons.

The Jewish people have had such a positive effect on the world – so many heroes and so many great contributions in so many arenas. While there are a lot of high-profile, successful Jews, as a proud Jew myself who owns a PR firm, I wanted to share my list of some Jewish heroes and role models. This list highlights Jews whose Judaism and love for Am Israel (the nation of Israel) encompassed them and occupied a central role in their lives as they changed the world for the better.

With no further ado, here is my list of five 20th Century Proud Jews Who Changed the World:

Albert Einstein: Time Magazine’s “Person of The Century” developed the general theory of relativity. Thanks to his brilliance, the television was developed, remote controls, lasers, DVD-players, and so much more. The man was a proud Jew, and a Zionist who was devoted to making the world a better place. Einstein said “my relationship to the Jewish people has become my strongest human bond, ever since I became fully aware of our precarious situation among the nations of the world.” To this day, any purchase of any product with Einstein’s name or image on it results in proceeds going to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  The man in life and work was an inspiration.  His name has become synonymous with genius.

20th Century Proud Jews Who Changed the World - Marc Chagall. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Marc Chagall: One of the most successful artists of the 20th Century, he is undoubtedly the most famous Jewish artist ever. His work so richly and vividly defines the Jewish experience. He depicted so many Jewish events with such beauty, and changed the world with his work, which circled around his heritage. His works sometimes depicted Torah (Bible) portions, and they are on display worldwide – from the halls of the Knesset to the Lincoln Center to the South of France. Pablo Picasso once said, “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.” Art has such a strong impact upon this world, and the proud Jewish artist Marc (Moshe) Chagall indeed helped make this world a better place.

20th Century Proud Jews Who Changed the World - Elie Wiesel. Photo: David Shankbone.

Elie Wiesel: Wiesel has told the story of the Holocaust, and kept the story alive so we never forget the horrors that were perpetuated upon our people. We may never understand the depth of the destruction and pain done to the Jewish people – and the world – but Wiesel has told the stories so we remember them. As he says, “I have tried to keep memory alive. I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are all accomplices.” He also said, “To be Jewish today is to recognize that every person is created in the image of God and that our purpose in living is to be a reminder of God…” The man has contributed so much to the world.

20th Century Proud Jews Who Changed the World - Menachem Schneerson. Photo: Mordecai Baron.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson: The leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement built the largest Jewish organization in the world. He was a pioneer of Jewish outreach and spread positive Judaism to all ends of the Earth. He reached out to Jews of all backgrounds and had tremendous influence and impact. The man simply spread Judaism and a love for yiddishkeit (Jewishness) further and further afield. As it is said, Coca-Cola and Chabad are everywhere in the world.

20th Century Proud Jews Who Changed the World - Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky: One of the founders of modern-day Zionism, the Jewish Garibaldi founded the modern day Jewish self-defense movement. His political philosophy has been the guiding force behind many of Israel’s political leaders of the last 35 years (Menachem Begin, Yitzchak Shamir, Benjamin Netanyahu), and he reminded Jews of the importance of unity and protecting one’s people.  This week marks the 74th year of his passing, yet the words of Ze’ev Jabotinsky remain vibrant and relevant for the Jewish people even today.

And some honorable mentions:

The holy soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces who protect our people and our nation. The leaders of Israel, including Menachem Begin, Golda Meir, and others. The father of modern day Zionism, Theodore Herzl. Anne Frank, whose stories from the Holocaust show how strong the human spirit is, and remind us of the Jews we lost. Natan Sharansky, whose strength and opposition to Russian brutality inspired Russian Jews who have changed the Jewish experience. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach who taught the Jewish people of the beauty of Jewish song, and whose tunes of love for G-d are sung at synagogues worldwide.  The Chofetz Chaim, whose books remind us that Jewish law is a real, living, breathing organism by which to live our lives.

Jewish mothers and fathers worldwide who keep our tradition going. My mother (Z’L), Penny Waga who will always be my hero.

We only live in this world once.  Let us do all we can – as proud Jews and human beings – to make the world a better place.

Ronn Torossian lives in New York City with his family. He established the Ronn Torossian Family Foundation as a non-profit organization through which he conducts philanthropy, and is an active board member of a number of charities.

16 Comments

  • Wonderful list. I would add every single one of the martyrs and survivors of the Holocaust, every soldier of the IDF, and Jewish educators all over the world.
    Thank you to Ronn Torossian for compiling this wonderful and inspirational list.

  • Einstein: BAM!
    Chagall: Seriously? In the Age of Duchamp?
    Wiesel: No creds. Why so silent in the face of Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people?
    Schneerson: Who?
    Jabotinsky: BAM!

  • Awesome list, couldn’t agree more with the selections. You mentioned Anne Frank and Golda Meir, who have shown the world what is excellence of character and sharpness of mind and who will certainly prove to be inspirations and role models of courage and wisdom for generations. If I may there are at least three other women who merit a mention on your list.

    Donna Garcia Mendes- 15th century; head of a banking empire in Belgium, eventually moved her family and wealth into the Ottoman empire, organized a citywide boycott in Ancona after dozens of Jews were burned at the stake.

    Glückel of Hameln- 17-18th cent.; business woman and diarist, for centuries providing scholars with accurate depictions of Jewish life of the time, had 14 children, 12 of whom were married into the most prominent families in Europe.

    and who could forget Barbara Streisand, especially in her endearing and heart wrenching performance of Yentl?, her humor and warmth coupled with the elegance she brings to everything can really be identified as the epitome of the Jewish woman.

  • Great article! Einstein was also the first head of the World Union of Jewish Students, and Jabotinsky was a Russian-Jew from Odessa. :)

  • Ronn, in highlighting for us the achievements of these great men at the close of a century, you remind us that someday not too distant from today someone, perhaps our own children, perhaps the world, will look upon our actions and judge our own contribution(s) to mankind. Your words are an inspiration to us all to always strive to maximize each moment of our short existence to make the greatest positive impact that we can. Well done!

    • Dovid Goldshteyn

      “Certainly a world without the Jews would have been a radically different place” Paul Johnson A History of the Jews. Thank you Ron for focusing our attention on what proud Jews are capable of.

      Dovid G.

  • Einstein had the soul of Esau/Edom; he was a descendant of Edomite converts, a Jewish dissembler by confession; not by blood! As our sages put it: “Grant not to (his soul) Esau, the wicked, the desire of his heart; for should they but go forth they would destroy the whole world.” (Megilah 6a). Einstein’s imagination caused great damage and his soul had the potential to destroy the world!

  • Einstein had the soul of Esau/Edom; he was a descendant of Edomite converts, a Jewish dissembler by confession; not by blood! As our sages put it: “Grant not to (his soul) Esau, the wicked, the desire of his heart; for should they but go forth they would destroy the whole world.” (Megilah 6a) Einstein’s imagination caused great damage and his soul had the potential to the world!

  • How about Sasha Borat Cohen who showed the world not to throw Jews down the well? Or how about the esteemed Yitzhcak rabin

  • Ronn, Great article and food for thought as always! It’s so easy to allow for life to just pass by and for real meaning to slip away. I think anyone who dedicates themselves to doing good and to strengthening the Jewish people is a hero!

  • Hannah Senesh would have been on my list as would have David Ben-Gurion.

  • For years the Coca-Cola slogan was IT’S THE REAL THING. So when we speak about what Chabad and Coca-Cola have in common – we say that they are both found all over the world and they are THE REAL THING.

  • 1 – Jesus
    2 – Freud
    3 – Einstein
    4 – Schneerson
    5 – Herzl

  • 1- EINSTEIN

    2- JABOTINSKY

    3- FREUD

    4- MAHLER

    5- BERNSTEIN

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →