Monday, January 18th | 5 Shevat 5781

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The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2020

In honor of The Algemeiner’s seventh annual gala, this time held virtually, we are delighted to unveil our seventh ‘J100’ list of the top one hundred individuals who have positively influenced Jewish life this past year. Before you work your way through this exciting list, we wanted to first share some of the thoughts that we discussed as we developed it. If we could group these ideas together, the first would be about creating lists, in general; then, what’s unique about lists and Judaism; some finer points differentiating our honorees from the organizations they lead; and important reflections on all those every day and anonymous-to-us heroes we also want to celebrate without ever knowing their names. And, of course, to thank everyone who helped create the list and worked hard to put together our ‘J100’ gala. 

It’s no secret that the world in general and the Jewish community in particular has seen significant and rising challenges over the past 12 months. History has shown that at times like these, as we face global turbulence and turmoil, the Jewish community can quickly find itself in a position of increased vulnerability. When there is economic uncertainty, disease and racial and class tensions the temptation to seek a scapegoat is strong. Indeed, we’ve seen a significant increase over the past year of coronavirus-related antisemitism, Jews and Israel being thrust into the center of racial grievances, and being blamed for the financial misfortune of others. 

It’s for these reasons that we found the compilation of this year’s ‘J100’ list to be a particularly inspiring exercise. Contained within the list are many individuals whose efforts have been vital to heroic life-saving initiatives, and others who have stood strong against the tide of hate and helped chart a path to a brighter Jewish future. We hope you find it as encouraging as we did.

On Lists

There are lists, and there are lists. From the Forbes 400 to the Time 100, we are witness today to a proliferation of many lists in various magazines and newspapers. The New Yorker even made a list of The Hundred Best Lists of All Time! It seems that in the feeding frenzy of our information overloaded society, categorizations and listings get our attention by presumably helping us make sense of the data flooding our psyches. Lists also carry an element of sensationalism – who made the list, who didn’t – feeding the hunger for competition – yet another staple of our superficial times. No wonder we don’t find such popularity contests waged in earlier centuries; living as desert nomads or inside of a shtetl, where everyone knew virtually no one else but their neighbors by name (for good or for bad), did not exactly lend itself to creating a top ten list of favorites. This is an exclusive product of the communications revolution and the global village it created.

Jewish Lists

Jewish sages, in particular, did not create such lists. Indeed, some actually dismissed the categorization of lists (even of the 13 Principles of Faith of Maimonides, let alone of a list of the “best” one thing or another). It begs the uneasy question of how one can even attempt to measure the value of a person? Isn’t everyone a hero in some way? On what grounds can we presume to judge who is more valuable than the next? With the ‘J100’ list we tried to create something more meaningful, a list aligned with our core mission: the 100 people who have the most positive impact on Jewish life and Israel – men and women, Jew or non-Jew, who have lifted the quality of Jewish life in the past year. Think of it this way: Without these ‘J100’ – either the individuals or the organizations they represent – Jewish life would not be at the caliber it is today. Despite the artificial, superficial, and sensational nature of any list, we sought to transform the information deluge of our times by using the list to shine a spotlight on those gems in our midst, those people who are making a real difference in others’ lives.

We also seek to inspire and motivate our young and the next generation, our future emerging leaders, in rising to the occasion and perpetuating the highest standards of our proud tradition and legacy – in serving and championing the cause of Jews and Israel. Because, as we know, when the quality of Jewish life is raised, the quality of all lives is raised. However, the most exciting part of our work in choosing the ‘J100,’ frankly, was sifting through hundreds of candidates and nominees to discover some surprising finalists. It was a joy to see the breadth of all those who merited a mention, to understand some of the great work being performed around the world on behalf of the Jewish people, and to celebrate their victories by bringing this great work to renewed public attention via this endeavor.

Individual vs. Organization

Inevitably, any list recognizing those that have positively influenced Jewish life will include the “usual suspects,” well-known leaders and officials of governments, organizations, and institutions. Like it or not, bureaucracy is part of the fabric of our society, feeding and supporting Jewish life around the globe, and it is that fabric that provides strength and cohesion to our disparate Jewish population.

Not all the names on the ‘J100’ were included for the same reason. Some are being honored for their personal contributions, others for their work at the organizations or nations they head. Some on the ‘J100’ are long established stars, others newcomers.

Like in any dynamic entity, we included both stalwart leaders with deep roots holding the foundation, while also introducing new branches that will lead us into the future.

This type of list – “The top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life” – has its inherent challenges. First, what defines “positive”? What some consider positive, others consider destructive. Jews notoriously disagree on what positive impact means. Fully cognizant of the controversy such a list could stir, we approached the creation of this list with a particular strategy, infused with a sense of humility and respect, to be as all-inclusive as possible while maintaining our integrity. This list should not be seen as an endorsement of anyone or any entity and way of thinking; rather, the people on this list are a reflection of the rich and broad spectrum of Jewish life – those who have positively contributed and helped shape the Jewish future.

We want this list to not be a definitive one, but a type of snapshot and perspective of the Jewish world today. The ‘J100’ is far from perfect – but which list of this type would not be? Rather, we want it to serve as a provocateur, challenging us all to think about what we value and consider precious; what we honor as being a positive influence on Jewish life and on Israel.

Anonymous Heroes

Jewish life, now and throughout history, is fraught with innumerable heroes – mostly unsung. A mother unceremoniously bringing up a beautiful family. A quiet nurse attending to the ill. An anonymous philanthropist sending food packages to the needy. The unobtrusive kindergarten teacher lovingly attending to and shaping young lives. Positive influences abound, yet few are called out.

Moreover, the Jewish community is decentralized. A leader in one city or town who has a major impact on their community may be completely irrelevant in another city. No list – not of 100, not of 1,000 – could capture and do justice to the countless daily acts of heroism and nobility impacting Jews and Israel.

There are innumerable rabbis, lay leaders, educators, and administrators who are beloved and are transforming their Jewish communities. As important as these individuals may be – and they certainly deserve their own list – the ‘J100’ does not include these heroes. Instead it focuses on individuals that have global and international impact, and that come from diverse groups – such as writers, teachers, government officials, and NGOs. In some ways, the ‘J100’ should be looked at not as a bunch of disjointed individuals, but as a mosaic – a confluence of many different colors and hues that create a diverse painting.

Thank You

In the spirit of The Algemeiner, we want this list to lift the quality of our discourse and standards in seeking out the best within and among us. We hope you enjoy reviewing and studying this list, and we welcome all your feedback, critiques, and suggestions to be included next year, in what has become a tradition at our annual New York gala event.

We extend our deep gratitude to our ‘J100’ honorees and special guests, to those who support this great institution, and ultimately to our readers, the Jewish people, and friends of the Jewish people whom we serve.

Disclosure: Algemeiner staff and their immediate families were disqualified for inclusion on the list. Some of the ‘J100’ finalists are friends and associates of The Algemeiner. As a media entity with many relationships, The Algemeiner inevitably has many friends and supporters; yet we didn’t feel it fair to disqualify highly qualified candidates simply due to their connection with us. Instead, fully cognizant of that reality, we placed special emphasis on impartiality and objectivity to choose only those who fit the criteria.

The Algemeiner editors

1 .

ACADEMIA

Dovid Katz

Scholar and author

One of the world’s leading scholars of the Yiddish language, Brooklyn-born professor Dovid Katz has been based in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius – formerly Vilna – for over 20 years. The editor of Defending History – a website dedicated to combating the political manipulation of the Holocaust and preserving Jewish life in eastern Europe – Katz effectively combines the roles of academic and advocate. His most recent campaign, extensively covered by The Algemeiner during 2020, involves countering Lithuanian government plans to construct a convention center on the grounds of the historic Jewish cemetery in Vilnius, where thousands of Vilna Jewish citizens still lie buried. A frequent media commentator and broadcaster, Katz has previously taught at Yale and Oxford Universities. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ACADEMIA

2 .

ACADEMIA

Eugene Kontorovich

Professor, George Mason's Antonin Scalia School of Law

A professor at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, specializing in constitutional and international law, Eugene Kontorovich is known throughout the academic world and in the media for his defense of the moral and legal rights of the State of Israel. As director of the Koheleth Policy Forum, a Jerusalem-based think-tank, Kontorovich hailed 2020’s milestone decision by the US government to include the West Bank and the Golan Heights in cooperation agreements with Israel as “a very strong recognition that settlements are not illegal.” Kontorovich has also been active in deploying legal tools to oppose the anti-Israel BDS movement, and is regarded as the “intellectual architect” of US state laws regarding boycotts of Israel. (Photo: Im Tirtzu / Screenshot)

ACADEMIA

3 .

ACADEMIA

Samuel Lebens

Research Fellow, University of Haifa

A highly-regarded Jewish philosopher and educator, Rabbi Dr. Samuel Lebens’ ground-breaking scholarly work The Principles of Judaism was published by Oxford University Press in August 2020. Presenting the basic axioms of the Jewish faith in the language of 21st century analytical philosophy, Lebens’ book has further cemented his reputation as a scholar of Judaism’s contribution to the fields of philosophy and theology. Lebens lives in Israel, where he is a research fellow in the philosophy department of the University of Haifa. (Photo: Drisha Institute / Screenshot)

ACADEMIA

4 .

ACADEMIA

Omar Mohammed

Historian

University professor Omar Mohammed became a hero when ISIS terrorists seized his home-town, the Iraqi city of Mosul, in 2014. Using the pseudonym “Mosul Eye,” Mohammed courageously documented the ISIS reign of terror on social media and through his blog. Now based in Paris, Mohammed continues his work to preserve his city’s multi-faith past, including its ancient Jewish community. In an interview with a Hebrew-language newspaper in 2020, Mohammed recalled that during the dark days of the ISIS occupation, he was inspired by the example of Victor Klemperer – a Jewish professor who documented the Nazi regime from inside Germany at great personal risk. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ACADEMIA

5 .

ACADEMIA

Shuly Rubin Schwartz

Chancellor, The Jewish Theological Seminary

In June 2020, Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz became the eighth chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York City – and the first woman to hold the post in the 134-year history of that institution. Her appointment was the culmination of a distinguished career devoted to JTS, where she previously served as provost and dean of Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies, JTS’s undergraduate school. Her award-winning book, The Rabbi’s Wife, is a penetrating examination of the role of rabbis’ wives in the development of American Jewish life. She is also the author of The Emergence of Jewish Scholarship in America: The Publication of the Jewish Encyclopedia and numerous articles on modern Jewish life. “American Jews have creatively developed serious Jewish learning, vibrant Jewish living, and flourishing Jewish culture in ways that highlight the challenges and opportunities of thriving as a minority group,” she observed in an interview with Barnard College this year. (Photo: courtesy)

ACADEMIA

6 .

ACTIVISM

Masih Alinejad

Activist

Iranian-born Masih Alinejad has established herself as one of the most prominent critics of the Islamist regime in Tehran in her work as a journalist for Voice of America’s Persian-language service. Politically active against the ayatollahs from a young age, Alinejad later left Iran, graduating from Oxford Brookes University in England. From her base in the US, Alinejad’s exposure of the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses have earned her plaudits from leaders including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. To punish her bravery in confronting the regime, Alinejad’s brother was arrested by security forces in Tehran last year, and remains in custody. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ACTIVISM

7 .

ACTIVISM

Ashager Araro

Activist

Ashager Araro is widely tipped as a candidate for the first Black Prime Minister of Israel – perhaps because it seems there are no heights the 29-year-old “social media queen of Israel” cannot scale. Born in 1991 on the roadside as her desperate family fled from their small village in Ethiopia to the capital Addis Ababa, Araro is an outspoken feminist Zionist and a former lieutenant paratrooper in the IDF. A bold voice for the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel, Araro has also become an important advocate in the battle for Israel’s reputation abroad. “I ask first, do you believe Israel has the right to exist?” she said in a recent interview as she discussed dealing with hostile audiences on university campuses. “If you say no, we cannot talk because Jewish people, like every other people, have the right to self-determination. And when I tell them I am pro-Palestinian – because I believe in a two-state solution – that blows their minds.” (Photo: courtesy)

ACTIVISM

8 .

ACTIVISM

Lindsey Danzinger

National Director of Organizing, Zioness

Rabbi Lindsey Danziger is the National Director of Organizing for Zioness – a coalition of Jewish activists and allies who are unabashedly progressive and unapologetically Zionist. The two experiences that have most shaped her are the time she spent in Israel and her training as a community organizer, both ideal preparations for her current role. After graduating, Danziger spent a year in Israel as a year-long OTZMA fellow through the JFNA, where she taught English and interned at WIZO Tel Aviv. During rabbinical school she served congregations as a Student Rabbi and Educator in Ohio, Michigan, New York and Florida. (Photo: Lindsey Danziger YouTube Channel / Screenshot)

ACTIVISM

9 .

ACTIVISM

David Deutchman

Volunteer

2020 was the year that the world lost David Deutchman – the beloved “ICU grandpa” who spent the last 14 years cuddling babies in the NICU at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Deutchman passed away in November from pancreatic cancer at the age of 86, having been diagnosed with the disease less than three weeks previously. To celebrate his legacy, Children’s Healthcare arranged a drive-by parade outside Deutchman’s home shortly before his death, complete with a NICU transport truck and helicopter. Deutchman began volunteering after retiring from a career in business marketing, saying of his new vocation, “I came to love it, but not just because of the connection with the babies, but the whole atmosphere of the hospital.” (Photo: Crazy Good Turns / Screenshot)

ACTIVISM

10 .

ACTIVISM

Rikhard Holomazov

Security guard

Ukrainian security guard Rikhard Holomazov became an instant hero in July 2020 when he fought off an ax-wielding man who tried to force his way into a synagogue in the city of Mariupol. Holomazov attempted to beat back the assailant, sustaining a broken arm and a head injury as he seized the ax and stopped the man from gaining entry to the synagogue as morning prayers were being recited. No one inside the building was harmed during the incident, which ended with Holomazov chasing the assailant away. Home to a Jewish community of several hundred, Mariupol is located in the Donetsk territory disputed between Ukraine and Russia. The city was seized by Russian insurgents early in 2014 before it was retaken by Ukrainian government forces a few months later. (Photo: Security Footage / Screenshot)

ACTIVISM

11 .

ACTIVISM

Garry Kasparov

Activist and author

Legendary chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov continued his advocacy for human rights throughout 2020, speaking out on behalf of dissidents in autocratic regimes in Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Turkey, as well as his native Russia. In November, Kasparov was awarded with the International Leadership Award from the Anti-Defamation League, which cited his “bravery as a person of tremendous courage who refused to be silent in the face of tyranny.” Kasparov, who was born to a Jewish father and Armenian mother in the former Soviet Union, has also spoken out forcefully against antisemitism in the US, slamming a far-left group’s insistence in 2020 that New York City councillors boycott Israel as “repulsive.” Said Kasparov: “As always, the far-left meets the far-right when it comes to intolerance, especially antisemitism.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ACTIVISM

12 .

ACTIVISM

As antisemitism rises to alarming levels in France year-on-year, lawyer Patrick Klugman continues to be an important advocate for the Jewish community’s wellbeing in both his country’s courts and in its media. A former leader of the UEJF, France’s Jewish student union, Klugman has earned his no-nonsense reputation when it comes to racism and antisemitism, countering Jew-hatred among Islamists and the French far-right. In 2020, Klugman was one of the more vocal French critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose regime depicts the French republic as “anti-Islamic.” In the courts, meanwhile, Klugman has been representing several of the victims of the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket terrorist attack of Jan. 2015, highlighting the antisemitic nature of the atrocity in which four Jews were murdered by Islamist killer Amedy Coulibaly. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ACTIVISM

13 .

ACTIVISM

Conrad Myrland

CEO, Med Israel for fred

As CEO of Norway-based “Med Israel for fred” (MIFF), Conrad Myrland heads up one of Europe’s largest pro-Israel groups and is at the forefront of supporting the Jewish state and fighting antisemitism across Scandinavia. Founded in 1978, MIFF’s present membership stands at over 11,000, including politicians, athletes and other celebrities. Myrland has degrees in economics and administration from Stavanger University and internet studies from Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia. (Photo: IKAJ / Screenshot)

ACTIVISM

14 .

ACTIVISM

Andrés Roemer

Diplomat and academic

In 2016, Mexican diplomat Andrés Roemer was fired from his position as Ambassador to UNESCO – the UN’s global cultural agency – because of his refusal to vote in favor of a resolution that denied the historic connection between the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem. Roemer, who is Jewish, said at the time that the Mexican government had questioned his motives because of his religion, rather than his determination to oppose what he called a “crime against reason.” But Roemer’s courage was not forgotten in Israel, where a street in the city of Ramat Gan has now been named after him. “I have no words to describe this honor,” he said. “I’ve been crying from all the emotion.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ACTIVISM

15 .

ACTIVISM

Liliana Segre

Activist

A 90-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp who in 2018 was appointed as a senator for life in her native Italy, Liliana Segre didn’t imagine that she would need round-the-clock police protection at this stage of her life. But after she called for the creation of a committee to combat racism and antisemitism, Segre was inundated with death threats on social media, receiving as many as 200 in a single day. Segre has continued to speak out undeterred, however, winning the admiration and support of much of the Italian public. A rally last December saw thousands of citizens of Milan escort Segre to city hall, with the crowd singing the anti-fascist anthem “Bella Ciao” along the route. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ACTIVISM

16 .

ACTIVISM

Marcus Sheff

CEO, Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education

Marcus Sheff is CEO of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), a Jerusalem-based, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. A pioneer in the field of textbook analysis, IMPACT has conducted pathbreaking research into standards of peace and tolerance and the presentation of Jews and Israel in school textbooks around the Middle East. In August 2020, Sheff and his team uncovered a major scoop when they exposed a botched EU report into incitement in Palestinian schools that falsely claimed Israeli textbooks promoting tolerance had been published by the PA. “The researchers have reviewed the wrong textbooks, taking textbooks for Israel’s Arab schools in Jerusalem, earnestly praising them and presenting them as coming from the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum,” said Sheff. (Photo: courtesy)

ACTIVISM

17 .

ACTIVISM

Zarie Sibony

Survivor

In September 2020, Zarie Sibony relived the terrifying hours she spent as the hostage of an Islamist terrorist in a Paris kosher supermarket more than five years earlier. In harrowing testimony at the trial in France of the defendants charged with the January 2015 terrorist attacks, Sibony spoke about her experience at the Hyper Cacher market in eastern Paris, where she worked as a cashier. “I was trying to ignore the moans, the bodies around us, the bodies I had to step over each time he told me to do something,” Sibony said of the terrorist Amedy Coulibaly, who murdered four people at the market. Now living in Israel, Sibony works as a childcare professional and says, “I’m doing better now.” (Photo: France 24 English / Screenshot)

ACTIVISM

18 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Former NBA player and entertainer

Regarded as one of the 50 greatest players to have competed in the NBA, basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has also been a powerful voice off the court against racism and for inclusivity at a time when American sports have been roiled by racial controversy. In 2020, Abdul-Jabbar challenged antisemitism in American sports head-on, writing in his Hollywood Reporter column that athletes, politicians and celebrities who engaged in Jew-baiting were promoting the “dehumanizing characterization of a people that caused the police abuses that killed… George Floyd.” Abdul-Jabbar then quoted the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

19 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Omer Adam

Musician

Israeli pop star Omer Adam spent the Simchat Torah holiday in Dubai, in a colorful sign of the warming ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The American-Israeli superstar, whose music fuses elements of eastern and Western pop instrumentation, was hosted at the home of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, and celebrated the holiday with the local Jewish community. “I chose to be in this dream place and meet wonderful people who love the Israeli people,” an emotional Adam declared during his visit. “I’m proud to be an ambassador of music and art in the Emirates, a place where there’s hope for a better world, without wars, and without terror in a magical place that has only joy, and human love.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

20 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Deni Avdija

Small forward, Washington Wizards

Tipped as one of the stars of the forthcoming NBA season, Israeli basketball player Deni Avdija was the ninth overall pick in the league’s 2020 draft. The 6’9”, 225-pound forward was selected by the Washington Wizards, becoming the highest-drafted Israeli player in NBA history in the process. The former Maccabi Tel Aviv player averaged 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 steals to earn MVP honors at the 2019 FIBA U-20 European Championships. The 19-year-old Avdija also helped Israel win the gold medal in back-to-back FIBA U-20 European Championships in 2018 and 2019. The son of an Israeli mother and a Serb father, Avdija made his debut in Israeli basketball at the age of 16. He is the youngest player in Israel to have been awarded with the Israeli league’s MVP title. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

21 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Mira Awad

Musician

Israeli-Arab pop singer and former Eurovision song contest winner Mira Awad has always believed that music brings people of different backgrounds closer together – which is why she took aim at British rocker Roger Waters in June 2020, over the former Pink Floyd vocalist’s backing for the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Awad urged Waters to have the “courage” and “the balls” to visit Israel, perform in the country, and share his thoughts while there, rather than opposing dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis from his base in London. “The boycott movement – you’re cutting the conversation,” Awad charged. “I’m trying to work a conversation and you’re cutting the conversation.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

22 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Zach Banner

Offensive tackle, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner rushed to the defense of the Jewish community following an antisemitic social media post by his fellow NFL player, DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles, in July 2020. Banner, who is of Chamorro and African-American descent, has said that several of his family members were Jewish. His first season with the Steelers coincided with the 2018 massacre at the city’s Tree of Life Synagogue. Reflecting on the atrocity this year, Banner said: “We need to understand that Jewish people deal with the same amount of hate and similar hardships and hard times. I want to preach to the black and brown community that we need to uplift the Jewish community and put our arms around them just as much when we talk about Black Lives Matter and elevating ourselves.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

23 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Charles Barkley

Former NBA player and broadcaster

In a year when the rest of the world saw the USA as riven by racial divides, NBA superstar Charles Barkley established himself as a voice of unity and reconciliation. After a number of African-American celebrities flirted with antisemitism on social media, former Philadelphia 76er Barkley challenged them directly. “You guys are famous, you got a platform. But I don’t understand how you can fight hatred with more hatred. I’m disappointed in you guys,” he wrote. Congratulating fellow NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s stance against antisemitism, Barkley declared: “I don’t want to alienate anybody. And to take shots at the Jewish, the white race, I just don’t like it ’cause it’s not right.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

24 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

From his masterly portrayal of the late Israeli Mossad agent Eli Cohen to his sidesplitting reprise of his famous character Borat, actor Sacha Baron Cohen has continued to entertain and enthrall his audience. 2020 was a year when the world saw more of Baron Cohen’s serious side, as he explained to the New York Times that he was speaking out boldly against antisemitism because “I needed to do that to live with myself.” Baron Cohen – who also won rave reviews for his role in the Netflix movie “The Trial of the Chicago 7” – went on to explain that when Borat first appeared in 2005, “you needed a character like him who was misogynist, racist, antisemitic to get people to reveal their inner prejudices. Now those inner prejudices are overt. Racists are proud of being racists.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

25 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Actor and writer Jesse Eisenberg discovered a haunting personal connection with the legendary French Jewish mime artist Marcel Marceau when he played the role of Marceau in the movie “Resistance.” Marceau – who was born Marcel Mangel – began aiding efforts to rescue Jewish children when he was 15, just a few years older than many of the children whom he saved. His own father was murdered at Auschwitz. Said Eisenberg: “My family comes from a part of Poland that is very close to where Marceau’s father came from in south-eastern Poland, so in some ways, it felt like I was playing somebody who, were I born with the same genetic makeup but 70 years earlier, I would be him.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

26 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Josh Gad

Actor

2020 was a busy year for Jewish actor and producer Josh Gad. As the coronavirus pandemic closed the world down, Gad launched an online movie club on YouTube, entertaining audiences with classic films and encouraging donations to charities like Dig Deep, Project Hope and No Kid Hungry. It was also a prolific year for Gad’s own output, with starring roles in the HBO comedy series “Avenue 5” and the Apple TV musical comedy “Central Park.” In July, responding to a spike in antisemitism in the US, Gad protested that bigotry against Jews was coming “from people in a position who should know better and who have the ability to really send messages to a large swath of people who I would imagine can benefit from such greater messaging than intolerance, at a time when there is so much intolerance.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

27 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Jonathan Jakubowicz is a Venezuelan filmmaker and writer, winner of the German Film Peace Prize 2020 for his film "Resistance,” which stars Jesse Eisenberg as Marcel Marceau – the famous French Jewish mime artist who rescued Jewish children in France from the clutches of the Nazi occupation. Jakubowicz, who grew up with Holocaust survivors on both sides of his family, knew that trying to make a Schindler’s List-type movie would prove to be too painful. With “Resistance,” he was able to bring a Jewish fighter against the Nazis to life on the screen. “This is really one of the most important stories that’s ever been told,” the director reflected in an interview. “It became my mission to tell it and I didn’t stop until I did.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

28 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Helen Mirren

Actor

Legendary British actor Helen Mirren rushed to the aid of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic shut down theaters and concert halls around the world. Featuring much loved Israeli musicians including Zubin Mehta, Pinchas Zukerman, and Itzhak Perlman, Mirren’s gala raised funds “to ensure that we can keep the music playing, showcasing musical excellence and bringing a message of peace and harmony,” as the IPO said in a message of thanks to the star. Mirren – whose screen depictions include Empress Catherine the Great and Queen Elizabeth II – is a frequent visitor to Israel and an outspoken opponent of efforts to subject the Jewish state to a cultural boycott. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

29 .

BUSINESS

Maty Siman

Entrepreneur

In March 2020, the Israeli application security company Checkmarx secured a $1.2 billion acquisition from private-equity firm Hellman and Friedman – a key milestone in the evolution of an enterprise that began 14 years ago when Maty Siman, a former soldier in the IDF’s Mamram computer and networks unit, joined forces with tech entrepreneur Emmanuel Benzaquen. In an interview over the summer, Siman – now the company’s Chief Technology Officer – expressed joy that he and Benzaquen remained at the helm of Checkmarx in the wake of the company’s purchase. “We remain totally independent,” Siman stated. “This gives us the opportunity to build the company while staying true to our vision.” (Photo: Tauvod / Screenshot)

BUSINESS

30 .

COMMUNITY

André Azoulay

Senior royal adviser

When King Mohammed VI of Morocco traveled to the coastal city of Essaouira to dedicate the historic Jewish Bayt Dakira (House of Memory) in January 2020, among the dignitaries greeting the king was the veteran royal adviser, André Azoulay. The project in Essaouira, once home to a large Jewish community, was the brainchild of Azoluay, and contains a small synagogue, a museum, and a research center. At the dedication ceremony, Azoulay presented the king with both a Torah and a Koran. King Mohammed’s presence was a symbol of “our secular and millenary Morocco that has been able to protect the very great diversity, which is the central wealth of our country,” Azoulay remarked. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

COMMUNITY

31 .

COMMUNITY

Eli Beer

Leadership, United Hatzalah

Eli Beer is the President of United Hatzalah – Israel's largest all-volunteer emergency medical response organization. The father of five children and long-time social entrepreneur was diagnosed with coronavirus in 2020 while on a visit to Miami, contracting a little-known illness – ICU Delirium, which causes terrifying hallucinations – as a result of the drugs he was treated with in the hospital. Nevertheless, within a month, Beer was back on the ground in Israel where, during the last year alone, Hatzalah has responded to more than 650,000 calls across the country. “I work all day because I don’t want to feel sorry for myself,” Beer said of his battle with coronavirus. “I have a big responsibility to raise more funds to grow the organization. I have no choice. If I relax, people will suffer.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

COMMUNITY

32 .

COMMUNITY

William Daroff

CEO, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Now entering his second year as CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, William Daroff spoke on behalf of the Jewish community on key events both domestic and international in 2020 – from the passing of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis to political and diplomatic efforts to ban the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah from the nations of the European Union. 2020 also marked a personal milestone for Daroff as his 18-year-old daughter Lily made Aliyah to the State of Israel. Having been “surrounded by Israel 24/7” growing up at home with her father, Lily said, she now wanted “to do something more important than go to college – to help the country I care about so much.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

COMMUNITY

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COMMUNITY

Famously dubbed as the "Hasidic Super Woman of Night Court" by the New York Times after she became one of the first Hasidic female lawyers in Brooklyn in 2005, Rachel E. Freier has spent much of 2020 assisting women in the New York City borough’s heavily Jewish neighborhoods as the coronavirus pandemic has spread. Now a judge on the New York City Criminal Court, Freier is a founder of the newly-created Ezras Nashim volunteer ambulance corps, the first of its kind composed entirely of women in the Orthodox Jewish community. It was Freier – the only Hasidic woman on the Criminal Court bench – who led the fight for Ezras Nashim to secure an ambulance for its work. Ezras Nashim says that its existence “makes women feel comfortable and more willing to call for help – no woman should delay calling for help.” (Photo: Touro College & University System / Screenshot)

COMMUNITY

34 .

COMMUNITY

Hatzalah

Volunteers

The hundreds of volunteers around the world who serve with the Hatzalah Emergency Medical Service (EMS) collectively personify this humanitarian organization’s treasured status in the Jewish world. 2020’s coronavirus pandemic has seen an unprecedented demand for Hatzalah’s services. The organization witnessed a 250 percent increase in emergency calls as the pandemic raged. In addition to medical response, Hatzalah worked with rabbis and community leaders to communicate to Jewish communities the need for self-isolation and the implementation of safety precautions. Multiple Hatzalah chapters donated ventilators and masks, as well as other vital personal protective equipment to local hospitals in short supply. (Photo: Chabad Info)

COMMUNITY

35 .

COMMUNITY

Malcolm Hoenlein

Leadership, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Now the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations – a body he has served since 1986 – Malcolm Hoenlein remains one of the most trusted and well-connected Jewish leaders in the US today, and an outspoken voice on key matters such as Israel’s security, antisemitism and the threat posed by Iran. Hoenlein’s multiple awards and citations over his long career include the State of Israel Bonds for his “valiant and extraordinary service to Israel and the Jewish people” and the Private Sector Initiative Award from former US President Ronald Reagan. Hoenlein is a recipient of the city of Jerusalem’s highest tribute, the “Neeman Yerushalayim” (Trustee of Jerusalem) award. He was appointed by three Presidents as a US delegate to the Organization for Security and Conference in Europe. (Photo: Jewish Leadership Conference / Screenshot)

COMMUNITY

36 .

COMMUNITY

Rabbi Yehudah Kaszirer went above and beyond the call of duty in his mission to collect blood samples from survivors of the coronavirus pandemic. Kaszirer – director of Bikur Cholim of Lakewood in New Jersey – was asked by Dr. Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic, who is leading a nationwide study on the use of blood plasma to treat patients with severe coronavirus, to “do what you can” to collect as many samples as possible. “About 36 hours later, Kaszirer boarded a private jet with roughly 1,000 vials of blood stored in coolers,” NBC reported. “It had been drawn from members of the community through a blood drive organized with military-like speed.” Said Kaszirer: “It felt like being on a godly mission.” (Photo: Jewish Life / Screenshot)

COMMUNITY

37 .

COMMUNITY

Jorge Knoblovits

Leadership, DAIA

Jorge Knoblovits is the president of DAIA, the umbrella organization representing the Jewish community in Argentina. Addressing a commemoration in Buenos Aires in November marking the 82nd anniversary of Reichspogromnacht – the Nazi-sponsored pogrom against Jews in Germany and Austria in which thousands were killed and arrested as synagogues burned – Knoblovits remarked that the danger of being silent in the face of atrocities is ever-present. As the SS rampaged against Jews, “there were many silent witnesses,” Knoblovits said. “Many times, we are the ones who remain silent in the face of acts of violence. And we end up being accomplices.” (Photo: La Nacion / Screenshot)

COMMUNITY

38 .

COMMUNITY

Yitshak Kreiss

Leadership, Sheba Medical Center

Professor Yitshak Kreiss M.D. has been Director General of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer in Israsel since 2016. For the last three decades, Prof. Kreiss served in the Israel Defense Forces where he ascended from serving as a frontline combat surgeon through all levels of command until assuming overall leadership of the Medical Corps as the IDF Surgeon General. In August 2020, Kreiss responded to the devastating explosion that ripped through Beirut’s port area by offering his hospital’s services to Lebanese victims. “It is our duty to help anyone who needs it, and especially our neighbors,” Kreiss declared. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

COMMUNITY

39 .

COMMUNITY

Gidi Kroch

CEO, Leket Israel

2020 was a sharply challenging year for Gidi Kroch, CEO of Israel’s national food bank Leket Israel. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, Leket Israel has distributed 60 percent more fruit and vegetables and 50 percent more hot meals than the period before due to increased demand. More than 31 local authorities turned to Leket to distribute food to those in need. “Sadly, many of those we supported were never on our radar beforehand,” Kroch explained in an interview over the summer. “They are people who worked hard and earned a living until they were thrown into unprecedented economic hardship.” (Photo: courtesy)

COMMUNITY

40 .

COMMUNITY

Marie van der Zyl

President, Board of Deputies of British Jews

London-born Marie van der Zyl is the 48th president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which represents the Jewish community in the United Kingdom. Assuming the role in 2018, Van der Zyl was quickly thrown into the conflict between British Jews and the opposition Labour Party, which had become a vehicle for crude antisemitism and anti-Zionism under its previous leader, Jeremy Corbyn. In 2020, Van der Zyl joined other faith leaders in speaking out forcefully against the genocidal repression of Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese Communist regime, noting the “similarities between what is alleged to be happening in the People’s Republic of China today and what happened in Nazi Germany 75 years ago: People being forcibly loaded on to trains; beards of religious men being trimmed; women being sterilized; and the grim specter of concentration camps.” (Photo: Board of Deputies of British Jews YouTube Channel / Screenshot)

COMMUNITY

41 .

GOVERNMENT

Nechirvan Barzani

Politician

The President of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, 2020 marked the first anniversary in office for Nechirvan Barzani, a veteran fighter for Kurdish national rights who previously served as the region’s Prime Minister. Barzani’s vision is to build a peaceful, progressive, modern, and tolerant society deeply inspired by his personal values and beliefs in pluralism in political life and peaceful coexistence among all the religious and ethnic communities in the Middle East. In a year when priorities have shifted, Barzani has continued to warn of the dangers posed to the region by Islamist terrorism. Referring to Islamist atrocities carried out around the world in 2020, Barzani affirmed that these were “another reminder that the international community’s support is still needed to defeat ISIS and counter terrorism across the world.” (Photo: Ruptly / Screenshot)

GOVERNMENT

42 .

GOVERNMENT

Joe Biden

President-Elect

Joe Biden will take office in January 2021 following the most bitterly fought election in living memory. The former Senator and Vice President in the Obama administration has made it clear that his main priority is to bring the coronavirus pandemic to heel but that grave challenge is not the only one he faces. When it comes to his relations with the US Jewish community, Biden is known as a stalwart friend of the State of Israel – a country he first visited in 1972, on the eve of the Yom Kippur war. Biden’s election platform included a commitment to oppose “any effort to unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations, or through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.” He has also pledged to confront rising antisemitism in America with an approach “that takes seriously both the violence that accompanies it and the hateful and dangerous lies that underlie it.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

43 .

GOVERNMENT

Elan Carr

Attorney

Elan Carr serves as the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. As Special Envoy, he advises the Secretary of State and is responsible for directing US policies and projects aimed at countering antisemitism throughout the world. The son of Iraqi Jewish refugees who fled persecution in Iraq, Carr speaks both Hebrew and the Iraqi dialect of Arabic. Among Carr’s achievements in 2020 was a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on combating antisemitism reached between the US and the Arab Gulf nation of Bahrain, which also reached a peace deal with Israel this year. Carr praised Bahrain for becoming the first state in the Middle East to join the United States in combating “the ancient, recurring human sickness that is antisemitism and… the first to include the delegitimization of the State of Israel in that project.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

44 .

GOVERNMENT

Lazarus Chakwera

President of Malawi

In Sept. 2020, the African nation of Malawi joined the list of countries that have relocated their embassies in Israel from Tel Aviv to the capital Jerusalem. That decision was undertaken by the country’s new President, Lazarus Chakwera. Asked about objections from Arab countries to the move, a spokesperson for Chakwera – a Christian minister who entered politics seven years ago – answered that “Malawi will always pursue diplomatic relations on the basis of what is in the best interest of Malawi.” Unlike most other African countries, Malawi – which agreed to diplomatic relations with Israel in 1964 – retained bilateral ties after the 1967 war, resisting Arab entreaties to cut its links with the Jewish state. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

45 .

GOVERNMENT

Yossi Cohen

Director, Mossad

The director of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, for the last five years, Yossi Cohen was asked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in July 2020 to extend his tenure in the role due to the present “security challenges facing the State of Israel.” Cohen agreed, and will begin a six-month extension in January 2021. In the interim, Cohen has been participating in the warming of relations between Israel and a growing list of Arab countries, visiting Bahrain in October for meeting with the heads of the Gulf nation’s national intelligence and strategic security bodies. In April, Cohen warned that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Iran had been much more serious than the Tehran regime was willing to admit. “The numbers the Iranians are reporting about are not true,” Cohen told a briefing. “The numbers of infected and dead I know about are much higher.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

46 .

GOVERNMENT

Yuli Edelstein

Politician

The former speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, Yuli Edelstein was appointed as Israel’s Minister of Health as the coronavirus pandemic was reaching its initial peak in 2020. Explaining his approach to the pandemic, Edelstein has said that “Our goal is to enable maximum freedom with minimal danger to public health.” A former Prisoner of Zion, Edelstein was born in the Soviet Union in 1958. After being forbidden to make Aliyah to Israel in 1979, Edelstein spent three years in a forced labor camp, eventually emigrating to the Jewish state in 1987. He entered the Knesset for the first time in 1996 and has held various key roles, including as Israel’s Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

47 .

GOVERNMENT

Benny Gantz

Leader, Blue and White party

Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz became the Alternate Prime Minister of Israel and Minister of Defense in 2020 after the country held three general elections in the space of a year. Under the deal he reached with current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gantz is scheduled to take over from him as Prime Minister on Nov. 17, 2021 – although many seasoned Israeli pundits are expressing doubt that the transition will take place. As Minister of Defense, Gantz has restored security coordination with the Palestinian Authority, stressing that doing so was in the “common interest - to Israeli citizens, to their safety, not to mention to the interest of Palestinian residents and the Palestinian economy.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

48 .

GOVERNMENT

Yonatan Gonen

Leadership, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Israeli communications expert Yonatan Gonen serves as the head of the Arabic language new media section at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In that role, Gonen is uniquely positioned to judge the mood of the Arab and wider Muslim world towards Israel, sometimes uncovering surprising results. In June, Gonen reported that the Foreign Ministry was receiving “tens of thousands” of requests on a daily basis from Iranians seeking political asylum in Israel. Gonen explained that many Iranians “see in various publications that Israel leads in various fields of technology and is a free and democratic country.” He added: “Some are also being persecuted in Iran by the authorities. They want to get away and believe that Israel can help them.” (Photo: courtesy)

GOVERNMENT

49 .

GOVERNMENT

Abdalla Hamdok

Prime Minister of Sudan

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok made history in October 2020 when he signed a peace agreement with Israel, making him the leader of the third Arab country to announce diplomatic relations with Israel in the space of two months. Israel and Sudan have already begun economic and trade relations with a principal focus on agricultural technology. In a statement announcing the agreement, Hamdok joined US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in pledging an era of “new opportunities for the people of Sudan, Israel, the Middle East, and Africa.” Domestically, Hamdok is pursuing a progressive domestic agenda, with an emphasis on boosting the rights of women. As well as appointing four women to his cabinet, Hamdok has also repealed laws that restricted the freedom of women to work, study and dress as they choose. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

50 .

GOVERNMENT

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum

Deputy Major of Jerusalem

The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum is responsible for foreign relations, international economic development, and tourism in the administration of Israel’s capital. Hassan-Nahoum – who was born in the UK and brought up in Gibraltar – is also the co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council (UIBC), a business association established in 2020 to foster “shared opportunities, economic cooperation and business partnerships” between entrepreneurs and investors in Israel and the United Arab Emirates in the wake of the historic peace deal between the two nations this year. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

51 .

GOVERNMENT

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa

King of Bahrain

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has been the King of Bahrain since 1999, steering the Gulf Arab nation into a new phase of economic and social development at a time when neighboring Iran has sowed instability throughout the Middle East. A strong advocate of regional peace and integration, Bahrain signed a historic peace agreement with the State of Israel in September 2020, paving the way for other Arab countries to follow suit. “Tolerance and co-existence define our true Bahraini identity,” King Hamad declared in a statement confirming the birth of bilateral relations with the Jewish state. “Our steps towards peace and prosperity are not directed against any entity or power, rather they are in everyone’s interest and aim for good neighborliness.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

52 .

GOVERNMENT

Aviv Kochavi

Chief of Staff, Israel Defense Forces

Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi is the Chief of Staff of the IDF, a post he has held since January 2019. Prior to that appointment, Kochavi served as the IDF’s Director of Military Intelligence following periods of commanding the IDF in Gaza and on Israel’s northern border. A veteran of the 1982 Lebanon war, Kochavi stated in a May 2020 opinion piece that the central lesson of that conflict was the need “to identify the enemy’s patterns of behavior and deliver a worthy military response.” Explaining the IDF’s multi-year plan called Tnufa (“Momentum”), Kochavi described it as a comprehensive response to the range of security threats faced by Israel, “incorporating compatible methods and weapons, streamlining cooperation between the various branches, training commanders, and cultivating morale and values.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

53 .

GOVERNMENT

Jared Kushner

Senior Adviser to the President of the United States

The outgoing Trump administration leaves a Middle East dramatically transformed for the better as a result of its efforts. Much of the credit for that achievement goes to Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and husband to the President’s daughter Ivanka. Kushner has written his place in the history books as the architect of the Abraham Accords of 2020, which ushered in a new era of peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, at the same time countering Iranian expansionism in the region. “What we had through this agreement was two leaders breaking a barrier that many in this region thought would never be breakable,” Kushner reflected after the announcement of the Israel-UAE deal. He also highlighted the continuing centrality of the US to peace and economic progress across the globe: “When you're a partner with America, there's no greater partner in the world.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

54 .

GOVERNMENT

Georgette Mosbacher

US Ambassador to Poland

Appointed as US Ambassador to Poland by President Donald Trump in 2018, Georgette Mosbacher has been a consistent and brave voice against rising extremism in that country, as well as a firm backer of restitution payments to survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. In July 2020, Mosbacher spoke out forcefully when a former Polish cabinet minister unleashed a tirade of antisemitic and homophobic rhetoric in a speech that attacked the existence of private media outlets. As a result, she was vilified by the Polish far-right, who called on her to “go home!” and threw antisemitic epithets at her on social media. For her part, Mosbacher was defiant. “When I took my oath as Ambassador, I didn’t give up my ethics, values, or sense of right and wrong,” she wrote. “When I see history being distorted or interpreted for malign reasons, I speak out regardless of being Ambassador or not.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

55 .

GOVERNMENT

Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister of Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu emerged from a torrid year in Israeli politics secure in his position as Prime Minister of the Jewish state. While Israelis remain divided over the legacy of their country’s longest-serving premier, Netanyahu will likely remain an influential figure on the global political stage for years to come. The first Israeli premier to be born in Israel after statehood was established, he has arguably enabled a period of growth and prosperity, ensured regional military dominance, and fostered an international coalition against Iran, among other achievements. The historic peace agreements reached in 2020 between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan have further cemented Israel’s place in the region. “The blessings of the peace we make today will be enormous,” Netanyahu declared at the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords at the White House in September. “First, because this peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states. And, ultimately, it can end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.” (Photo: CSPAN / Screenshot)

GOVERNMENT

56 .

GOVERNMENT

Yousef Al Otaiba

United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States

Yousef Al Otaiba is one of the best-known and respected diplomats in Washington, DC. The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the US, Al Otaiba played a key role in the peace accord reached with Israel in August 2020, a move that was quickly followed by Bahrain and Sudan, with other Arab states expected to follow suit. The US-educated Al Otaiba created the basic framework with his Israeli partners that crystallized into the bilateral peace agreement with the Jewish state, the first such agreement between an Arab state and Israel in more than 25 years. Thanking US legislators for their support in remarks on the day the deal with Israel was signed, Al Otaiba promised that the UAE would work with the US Congress “as we expand cooperation with Israel, deepen our collective relationship with the US, and together work to realize the full promise of this historic initiative.” (Photo: Embassy of the UAE / Screenshot)

GOVERNMENT

57 .

GOVERNMENT

Reuven Rivlin

President of Israel

Reuven Rivlin is the 10th President of the State of Israel, a position he has held since June 2014. During 2020, Rivlin has been increasingly concerned with the coronavirus pandemic. In September, he sparked the ire of some Israeli politicians by apologizing to the Israeli public after a second lockdown was imposed ahead of the High Holidays. Israel’s “leadership didn’t do enough to be worthy of your attention,” the plain-speaking Rivlin said. “You trusted us and we let you down.” Rivlin also reflected on the price the pandemic had exacted upon Israeli society: “Our synagogues were closed during the Passover holiday, our mosques were closed during Ramadan, and up till today my heart aches when I think of the bereaved families who have not visited the graves of loved ones on their remembrance day.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

58 .

GOVERNMENT

German diplomat Katharina von Schnurbein was appointed as the first European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism in December 2015. Prior to this, she worked for five years as an advisor to EU Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso. In September 2020, von Schnurbein marked the first anniversary of the attack by a far-right gunman on Yom Kippur services at a synagogue in the German city of Halle by asserting that protecting Jews in Europe “means more than just building security.” Stated von Schnurbein: “Overall, we have to protect Jews better, including in everyday life. And that only works if we actively promote Jewish life. It’s at least as important as fighting hatred.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

59 .

GOVERNMENT

Keir Starmer

Leadership, British Labour Party

Sir Keir Starmer inherited a disaster when he became leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party in April. Having been resoundingly defeated in the 2019 general election, Labour remained mired in the antisemitism scandals that mushroomed under Starmer’s far-left predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn. When an official report deemed that Labour had broken British race relations laws in its treatment of the Jewish community, Starmer declared it a “day of shame” for the party. “I made it clear the Labour Party I lead will not tolerate antisemitism, neither will it tolerate the argument that denies or minimizes antisemitism in the Labour Party on the basis that it’s exaggerated or a factional row,” Starmer declared – but the continued persistence of Corbyn’s supporters means that his battle to eradicate antisemitism from the party’s ranks is far from over. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

60 .

GOVERNMENT

Pnina Tamano-Shata

Politician

Israeli Knesset Member Pnina Tamano-Shata became the first Ethiopian-Israeli woman to win appointment to the Israeli cabinet in 2020. Born in the Ethiopian village of Wuzaba in 1981, Tamano-Shata arrived in Israel in 1984 as part of Operation Moses. Now she herself is in charge of immigrant absorption as Minister of Aliyah and Integration. “For me, this is a landmark and the closing of a circle, from that three-year-old girl who immigrated to Israel without a mother on a cross-desert foot journey; through growing up in Israel and the struggles I led and am still leading for the community, integration, the acceptance of the other, and against discrimination and racism; up to my public mission inside and outside the walls of the Knesset and today to the status of minster of aliyah and integration,” she reflected in a Hebrew-language interview following her promotion. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

61 .

GOVERNMENT

Ritchie Torres

US Congressman, New York

Ritchie Torres is the Democratic US Representative-elect for New York's 15th congressional district, which encompasses a large part of The Bronx. A native of The Bronx himself, Torres is a gay Afro-Latino and unabashed progressive – but his unstinting support for the State of Israel has earned him the enmity of many on the left who support the anti-Zionist BDS movement. However, as a Bloomberg News profile pointed out, Torres did not pay any political price for his vocal backing of the Jewish state, as his “constituents cared far more about his plans for bringing people out of poverty and affordable housing.” When it comes to the Middle East, Torres believes fervently that the “progressive position is to promote a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, not to end the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

62 .

GOVERNMENT

Donald Trump

President of the United States

Amid the frantic political conflict that followed the November 2020 presidential election, several Israeli and Jewish leaders paused to thank outgoing President Donald Trump for his fulsome contributions to the well-being of Israel and the wider cause of peace in the Middle East. During Trump’s tenure in the White House, the US moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the capital Jerusalem, withdrew from the 2015 Iran deal and resumed tough sanctions against the Tehran regime, killed the deadly Iranian military leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani, pulled out of the anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council, and brokered historic peace deals between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan. In his tribute to Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the president had taken the US-Israeli relationship to “unprecedented heights.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

63 .

GOVERNMENT

Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi

Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces – was another critical player in the historic peace deal reached with Israel in 2020. The crown prince – known in the media as “MBZ” – is now poised to make his first official visit to Israel, having accepted an invitation from Jerusalem and having extended the same courtesy to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. Hailing the crown prince’s decision to recognize and make peace with Israel through the Abraham Accords, President Trump urged him “to seize this opportunity to urge leaders of other Middle East countries to follow the same path toward advancing peace and prosperity in the region.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

64 .

INNOVATION

Albert Bourla

CEO, Pfizer

The coronavirus breakthrough that everyone had been waiting for during 2020 was finally announced at the beginning of November by Dr. Albert Bourla. The CEO of international pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, it was Bourla who confirmed that the company’s trial of a coronavirus vaccine had met with a 90 percent success rate. Born in 1961 in Thessaloniki, Greece, Bourla was raised in a Sephardic Jewish family and studied in Athens. In 2020, he was ranked as America’s top CEO in the Pharmaceuticals sector by Institutional Investor magazine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government signed an agreement with Pfizer to purchase 8 million vaccines, remarked after their meeting that Bourla “is very proud of his Greek heritage and his Jewish heritage.” (Photo: Greek Reporter / Screenshot)

INNOVATION

65 .

INNOVATION

Brett Lockspeiser

Computer programmer

Tech pioneer Brett Lockspeiser is the creator of the “Sefaria” app, a free digital library of Jewish texts in English and Hebrew. A secular Jew with no formal Jewish education, Lockspeiser, 37, was the project’s chief engineer. Lockspeiser began his career in technology as a Product Manager at Google where he led the team that created the Google News Archives. After leaving Google, he worked with a number of startups and non-profits in the Bay Area. Lockspeiser has said that he founded Sefaria with partner Joshua Foer after realizing “how few of the basic possibilities for Torah and technology had yet been realized.” (Photo: Contemporary Jewish Museum / Screenshot)

INNOVATION

66 .

INNOVATION

Jessica Meir

NASA astronaut

As the coronavirus pandemic raged in April 2020, Jewish NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and her colleagues returned to earth from the International Space Station (ISS). Prior to her departure from the station, Meir joked, “I think I will feel more isolated on Earth than here,” after learning about social distancing restrictions at home. Meir spent a total of 205 days in space, tweeting on two separate occasions about her father’s Middle Eastern heritage while aboard the ISS. She is the fourth Jewish woman and 15th Jewish astronaut overall to fly in space. Meir joined the crew of the International Space Station in September 2019, becoming part of the first-ever female spacewalking team the following month. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

INNOVATION

67 .

INNOVATION

Paul Milgrom

Professor

American Jewish academic Paul Milgrom and his Stanford University colleague Robert Wilson won the 2020 Nobel Economics Prize for work on auctions that has been hailed for benefiting buyers and sellers around the world on everything from fishing quotas to aircraft landing slots. Milgrom’s contribution centered upon his theories of “private values,” when the perceived value of something differs from bidder to bidder. He demonstrated that an auction format will give the seller higher expected revenue when bidders learn more about each other’s estimated values during the bidding process. A video of Wilson repeatedly buzzing Milgrom’s front door in the early hours of the morning while attempting to tell him of their Nobel win has since gone viral. (Photo: Stanford / Screenshot)

INNOVATION

68 .

INNOVATION

Eytan Stibbe

Astronaut

Former Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe will soon become the second astronaut in the country’s history, a November 2020 announcement from the Israel Space Agency confirmed. Stibbe is slated to take off for the International Space Station in late 2021 for a mission of just over a week, during which he’ll conduct a series of experiments intended to advance Israeli technological development. Joining Stibbe as the announcement of his mission was made was Tal Ramon – son of the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who was tragically killed with six fellow crew members in a shuttle reentry disaster in 2003. “As a child, on dark nights I used to look up to the sky and wonder what’s there beyond what I could see,” Stibbe said in a statement. “It takes great courage for us to be able to release ourselves from that which ties us down, to leave gravity.” (Photo: The ImPact / Screenshot)

INNOVATION

69 .

INNOVATION

Cookbook author and Israeli foodie Adeena Sussman has been energetically promoting her newest release, Sababa, which was named a Best Fall 2019 cookbook by the New York Times, Bon Appétit, and Food & Wine. The book is currently enjoying a second wind as the world sees an unexpected byproduct of the pandemic era: more home cooks with time on their hands to try interesting new recipes. Before moving to Israel several years ago, Sussman spent 20 years honing her culinary skills in New York, where she moved from northern California. She attended the Institute of Culinary Education, and for the next decade and a half wrote articles, tested recipes, and co-authored 11 books. (Photo: courtesy)

INNOVATION

70 .

INNOVATION

Tal Zaks

Scientist

Among the companies announcing a vaccine for the coronavirus pandemic at the end of 2020 was US biotechnology pioneer Moderna, after the conducted trials discovered a success rate of more than 94 percent. Moderna’s chief medical officer, Dr. Tal Zaks, has expressed confidence that the vaccine will quickly make its way to Americans. “We are on track to deliver to the US government the first hundred million doses, and the US government has optioned to purchase more,” Zaks said in a radio interview. Zaks received his medical degree and doctorate from Ben Gurion University in Israel and served in the IDF Forces as a medic before pursuing his career in the US. (Photo: Moderna / Screenshot)

INNOVATION

71 .

PHILANTHROPY

Sylvan Adams

Businessman

Canadian philanthropist and former real estate developer Sylvan Adams is a recent immigrant to Israel, where he has been busy helping to improve the public relations image of the world’s only Jewish state. Billionaire Adams is determined to show the “normal Israel” that flourishes in the country’s sports, arts and lifestyle scenes. “My experience with first-time visitors to Israel, they’re almost universally shocked and surprised because Israel is not what they expected,” Adams has said. “They come here and they see the country is open, tolerant, liberal, democratic, and most of all, safe.” Among Adams’ successes was starting the 2018 Giro d’Italia cycle race in Israel, marking the first time that the famous race has begun outside of European territory. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

PHILANTHROPY

72 .

PHILANTHROPY

Peter Baldwin

Leadership, Center for Jewish History

Peter Baldwin is the chairman of the Center for Jewish History (CJH) in New York City. He is also the co-founder with Lisbet Rausing of Arcadia, a charitable fund. Arcadia recently donated a grant of $2.5 million to CJH, which is intended to ensure the sustainability of the digitization and preservation efforts of the Center, the foremost repository of Jewish history outside of Israel. “We are proud to support this effort to make a vast and unique collection freely available online,” Baldwin said of Arcadia’s grant. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

PHILANTHROPY

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PHILANTHROPY

Shloime Greenwald was the organizer of an 18-hour global telethon in May 2020 that united 47 Hatzalah chapters worldwide in a jam-packed concert with some of the best Jewish musicians in the world. Hatzalah chapters from the United States, Australia, Europe, Canada, Israel, South America and elsewhere were recipients of an unprecedented $15 million raised from some 83,000 donors amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

PHILANTHROPY

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PHILANTHROPY

Mike Leven and Amy Holtz

Founders of Jewish Future Pledge

Mike Leven is a legendary business executive and visionary philanthropist. Inspired by Warren Buffet’s and Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge, Leven co-founded the Jewish Future Pledge to carry on his family’s commitment to Judaism. Co-founder Amy Holtz is a visionary leader and strategist with more than two decades of experience leading and growing businesses and nonprofits. In addition to working on the Jewish Future Pledge, Holtz is CEO of Traction Specialists, which empowers entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders to build their businesses. (Photo: Jewish Future Pledge / Screenshot)

PHILANTHROPY

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PHILANTHROPY

Irina Nevzlin

Entrepreneur and author

Moscow-born philanthropist and author Irina Nevzlin was awarded the silver medal in the 2020 Nautilus Book Prize for her latest book, The Impact of Identity: The Power of Knowing Who You Are. Her past work has seen her serve as a member of the Executive Council of the organization JFN Israel (Jewish Funders Network) and as the Vice Chairman of the Governing Board of JFN Worldwide, an organization encouraging quality philanthropy within the Jewish world through a platform of exchange, deeds, and learning. Since 2012, Nevzlin has served as the chair of the Board of Directors of The Museum of the Jewish People, Beit Hatfutsot, in Israel and as president of the NADAV Foundation. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

PHILANTHROPY

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RELIGION

Yehuda Krinsky

Leadership, Chabad

The chairman of the educational arm of the Chabad movement, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky began his career as an emissary of the legendary Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. “Today, in my estimation, Chabad-Lubavitch is the largest Jewish organization in the world,” Krinsky said in a recent interview. “You have over 3,500 Batei Chabad [Chabad Houses] all over the world, and along with spreading Torah and mitzvot, our people save people in natural disasters. They save non-Jews, too.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

RELIGION

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RELIGION

Moshe Kotlarsky

Director, International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries

Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky is the director of the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries and vice chairman of Merkos L’lnyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Rabbi Kotlarsky travels the globe establishing Jewish centers for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, becoming known as “Judaism’s Globe Trotter” in the process. In many countries he is the public face of Chabad, visiting heads of state and opening new Chabad centers worldwide. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

RELIGION

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RELIGION

Shais Rishon

Writer and speaker

Shais Rishon is a Brooklyn-based, African-American, Orthodox Jewish rabbi, author, blogger, graphic artist, and public speaker. A social activist more by chance than choice, Rishon entered the blogosphere in 2009 with the pseudonym "MaNishtana" with a mission “to nurture unity and strengthen multifaceted identity within the Jew of Color (or ‘JOC’) community.” In a speech to the “No Hate, No Fear” rally against antisemitism in New York in January 2020, Rishon declared: “Antisemitism is an evil that does not differentiate between Reform or Conservative, between left or right, or between black or white. And to have any chance of beating it, we must do it together.” (Photo: ROI Community / Screenshot)

RELIGION

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RELIGION

Jonathan Sacks

Former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom

The Jewish world lost both an intellectual giant and one of its most beloved figures with the tragic passing of Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, in November 2020 at the age of 72. An internationally-renowned scholar, prolific author, engaging speaker, and a much-respected member of the British House of Lords, Sacks' death produced a flood of tributes from around the world as well as in his native Britain. Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that Sacks' "leadership had a profound impact on our country and across the world" in a speech to the House of Commons. In a separate statement, Prince Charles reflected that Sacks would be "missed more than words can say… With his passing, the Jewish community, our nation, and the entire world have lost a leader whose wisdom, scholarship and humanity were without equal."

Ayelet Raymond wrote in The Algemeiner on November 17, 2020: "Rabbi Sacks wrote over 24 books. Most of the messages in these books contain universal moral principles that extend beyond Orthodox Judaism. His last book, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, published earlier this year, provides a roadmap to living ethically in the 21st century."

"In Morality, Sacks wrote: 'Fight injustice, whoever it is done by and whoever it is done against. And do these things because, being human, we are bound by a covenant of human solidarity, whatever our color or culture, class or creed. These are moral principles, not economic or political ones.'" (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

RELIGION

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RELIGION

Yehuda Sarna

Rabbi

Yehuda Sarna was appointed the chief rabbi of the United Arab Emirates in August 2020 by the Jewish Community of the Emirates, one of two Orthodox congregations in the country, as the Gulf Arab nation embarked on its historic peace deal with Israel. “With the Abraham Accords, we are not commemorating the cessation of hostilities; we are celebrating a family reunion, a bond of trust, and a shared mission to the world,” Sarna declared shortly after his appointment. A graduate of Yeshiva University, Sarna was formally ordained as a rabbi in 2004. (Photo: Embassy of the UAE / Screenshot)

RELIGION

81 .

RELIGION

Adin Steinsaltz

Scholar and rabbi

The Jewish world was in mourning in August 2020 following the death of Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz at the age of 83, the scholar who revolutionized the study of Jewish texts with his rich and accessible commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud. Steinsaltz was best known for his 41-volume translation of the Talmud into modern Hebrew, becoming the first rabbi since the 11th-century French sage Rashi to complete such a task. In an emotional tribute to the Jerusalem-born rabbi, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin lauded Steinsaltz as "a man of great spiritual courage, deep knowledge and profound thought who brought the Talmud to Am Yisrael (the people of Israel)." (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

RELIGION

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RELIGION

Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum is the leader of part of the Satmar Hasidic community based in Kiryas Joel, an Orthodox enclave in New York’s Orange County. In Oct. 2020, Teitelbaum was in the headlines after he forcefully condemned protests against coronavirus lockdown restrictions mounted by Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood. "None of you should be seen at these protests," Teitelbaum declared. “Praise unto the person who doesn’t follow in the ways of evil.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

RELIGION

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TOMORROW

Isaac de Castro

Activist and journalist

Cornell University student Isaac de Castro came up with a novel idea during 2020, as Jewish students on university campuses around the US faced an upsurge of antisemitic harassment – including swastikas scrawled in dorm rooms and white supremacist propaganda distributed in public areas. Together with fellow students, de Castro created a new Instagram account – Jewish on Campus – which collects the anonymous anecdotes of Jewish students across the country who have experienced antisemitism in college. The goal is to "provide a safe space for Jews of all backgrounds to speak up against antisemitism on college campuses," conveying the breadth of anti-Jewish sentiment on campuses across the country and showing that colleges and universities have not done enough to address it. (Photo: LinkedIn)

TOMORROW

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TOMORROW

Gaby Farber

Activist

One young South African Jewish woman broke the mold of anti-Israel activism on that country’s university campuses in 2020. In October, 22-year-old Gaby Farber was elected to the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. A graduate of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, Farber was elected on the ticket of the left-wing Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA,) despite a campaign of vilification from anti-Israel activists furious that a white Jewish woman who called herself a Zionist had been accepted as a candidate on a progressive slate. In an extensive interview with The Algemeiner, Farber said she felt an “obligation” to defend the rights of poor students from black townships. “You can’t enjoy freedoms when there are so many people around you not enjoying those same freedoms,” she said. (Photo: courtesy)

TOMORROW

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TOMORROW

Blake Flayton

Activist

The author of a much-quoted New York Times op-ed written during his sophomore year at George Washington University, Blake Flayton articulated some basic truths about life at American universities for students who support Israel. Flayton, a liberal activist, faced antisemitism in leftist spaces on his campus and was accused of genocide apologism. "This is the reality of being a politically active Jew on many American college campuses," Flayton wrote. "If you call yourself a Zionist because your family fled to Israel from a Middle Eastern country as a means of survival, you are complicit in ethnic cleansing." (Photo: courtesy)

TOMORROW

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TOMORROW

Noémie Madar

President of French Union of Jewish Students

The president of the French Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), Noémie Madar is one of the most determined campaigners against racism and antisemitism in France. In June 2020, Madar chalked up a major victory when pressure from her and other activists resulted in YouTube permanently banning the antisemitic provocateur Dieudonné M'bala M'bala. In an interview with the news outlet Le Point, Noémie Madar observed that antisemitic agitation had been a hallmark of the most recent videos released by him during the coronavirus pandemic. “The videos betray the antisemitic obsessions of their creator,” Madar said. (Photo: Judaiques FM / Screenshot)

TOMORROW

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TOMORROW

Rose Ritch

Activist

A Jewish student leader at the University of Southern California (USC), Rose Ritch resigned as vice president of the Undergraduate Student Government at the Los Angeles school in August 2020 after she faced a campaign of antisemitic harassment. In her resignation letter, Ritch noted that she was targeted “not because I am a woman, nor because I identify as queer, femme, or cisgender… But because I also openly identify as a Zionist, a supporter of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, I have been accused by a group of students of being unsuitable as a student leader.” In response to Ritch’s move, USC President Carol Folt announced a new initiative, run by the USC Shoah Foundation, called “Stronger than Hate.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

TOMORROW

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TOMORROW

Maryam Al-Zaabi

Writer and activist

“For too long, anti-Zionism was pursued as an essential element of the correct Arab and Muslim identity,” wrote the Muslim commentator and interfaith advocate Maryam Al-Zaabi in an opinion piece jointly authored with a fellow Muslim and an Israeli Jew. “This has not brought the Arab and Islamic world greatness. Quite the contrary,” the piece continued. Self-confessed “Muslim Zionist” Al-Zaabi’s rejection of anti-Zionist dogma reflects her greater desire for peace and cooperation between Jews and Arabs. A former UN youth delegate from the United Arab Emirates, Al-Zaabi is currently working as an International Relations Specialist at the General Secretariat of the Federal National Council (FNC), the UAE Parliament. (Photo: Wilson Center)

TOMORROW

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VOICES

Eve Barlow

Writer

“I am really proud to be Jewish today and all days” is a heartening example of what columnist Eve Barlow – who is proudly Scottish and Jewish, as well as a Zionist – shares on her Twitter feed. In an article for Medium in 2020, Barlow argued that “My Zionism is what makes me pro-Palestinian because how could I deny someone's right to self-determination? I am a Zionist and I am pro-Palestinian.” A contributor to New York Magazine, The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Pitchfork, and GQ, among other publications, Barlow is now based in Los Angeles. (Photo: courtesy)

VOICES

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VOICES

Marra Gad

Writer and producer

Marra Gad’s 2020 memoir, The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl, is the multilayered story of her life as a biracial Jew. Although Gad experienced a life with loving parents, there were also hostile relatives and Jewish communities that were not always welcoming. Adopted as an infant, Gad was born to a white Jewish mother and a black father. The rabbi who arranged the adoption had no idea the child’s father was black and told Gad’s parents they could refuse the child. Instead, the Gads knew deep in their souls that Marra was their daughter – it is their love that illuminates the book’s narrative. (Photo: HEC Books / Screenshot)

VOICES

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VOICES

In 2020, Annika Hernroth-Rothstein published her first book, Exile: Portraits of the Jewish Diaspora, in which she uncovered the hidden beauty of the largely forgotten Jewish enclaves in countries ranging from Finland to Uzbekistan and Iran to Morocco. The book has been praised for bringing “brilliant life to the history, culture, and most importantly, the fascinating people the author met on her journey.” Hernroth-Rothstein describes herself as “passionate about foreign affairs, counter-terrorism and human rights issues around the globe.” She has worked as a full-time journalist since 2015, publishing her writings in several magazines and news outlets. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

VOICES

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VOICES

Jemele Hill

Writer

In July 2020, The Atlantic contributing writer Jemele Hill wrote a highly personal piece in response to Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s use of a fake Hitler quote on Twitter. As an ESPN columnist covering the NBA Finals, Hill had written, “Rooting for the [Boston] Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim.” She continued: “More than a decade later, I still cringe when I think about it… I had made a joke about the Nazi leader who orchestrated the murder of 6 million Jewish people.” Noting that like Jackson, she was black, Hill concluded that “had anyone made a remark trivializing slavery, I would have been incensed. I learned that just because I’m aware of the destruction caused by racism, that doesn’t mean I’m automatically sensitive to other forms of racism, or in this case, antisemitism.” (Photo: LBJ Foundation / Screenshot)

VOICES

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VOICES

Aviva Klompas

Writer

Aviva Klompas is a speechwriter, communications strategist, public speaker, and policy advisor. Her latest book, Speaking for Israel: A Speechwriter Battles Anti-Israel Opinions at the United Nations, revisits her experience as Israel’s UN speechwriter, where she witnessed the collapse of four Middle Eastern states, faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, waves of Palestinian terrorism, stop-and-go nuclear negotiations culminating in the Iran nuclear deal, an attempt to push Palestinian statehood through the UN Security Council, the Palestinians’ bid to join the International Criminal Court, the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, and fifty days of war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in 2014. Klompas has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Foreign Policy among other publications. (Photo: Personal YouTube Channel / Screenshot)

VOICES

94 .

VOICES

James Lindsay

Writer

An American-born author, mathematician, and political commentator, James Lindsay has written six books spanning a range of subjects including religion, the philosophy of science, and postmodern theory. He is the founder of “New Discourses” and currently promoting his new book How to Have Impossible Conversations. While describing himself as a left-leaning liberal, Lindsay is a notable critic of the leftist political ideology known as “wokeness,” which he analogizes to religious belief. In 2020, Lindsay authored a widely debated essay that asserted as its main thesis, “critical race theory has a Jewish problem, and finally people are beginning to notice.” (Photo: Modern Wisdom / Screenshot)

VOICES

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VOICES

Pamela S. Nadell

Historian

Pamela S. Nadell holds the Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women's and Gender History and is Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the American University in Washington, DC. Nadell’s latest book America's Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today was published to great acclaim in 2019, with the New York Times praising its “vivid picture of a golden land that often defaulted on its promises.” A past pres­i­dent of the Asso­ci­a­tion for Jew­ish Stud­ies, Nadell won 2019’s National Jewish Book Award. “Just think of the great num­bers of Jew­ish women who have entered nation­al, state, and local pol­i­tics; or the myr­i­ads who are leav­ing their marks in the worlds of busi­ness, the arts, edu­ca­tion, the media, and activism,” she observed in an interview earlier this year. (Photo: Jewish Women's Archive / Screenshot)

VOICES

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VOICES

Maajid Nawaz

Activist and writer

Maajid Nawaz is a counter-extremist, author, columnist, broadcaster and Founding Chairman of Quilliam, a London-based organization focusing on matters of integration, citizenship & identity, religious freedom, immigration, extremism and terrorism. Nawaz’s work is informed by years spent in his youth as a leadership member of a global Islamist group, and his gradual transformation towards liberal democratic values. Having served four years as an Amnesty International adopted “prisoner of conscience” in Egypt, Nawaz is now a leading critic of his former Islamist ideological dogma, while remaining a secular liberal Muslim. Unafraid to challenge orthodoxies, Nawaz called out the Palestinian Hamas group as a terrorist organization on a radio broadcast in January 2020. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

VOICES

97 .

VOICES

Piers Morgan

Journalist and broadcaster

Veteran British journalist Piers Morgan entered the battle against antisemitism in 2020 with a furious response to British rapper Wiley who had unleashed a grotesquely antisemitic rant on Twitter under the guise of an argument with his Jewish former manager. “Shame on you, Wiley,” Morgan tweeted. “You’ve exposed yourself as a disgusting anti-Semitic racist who’s spent the past 24hrs inspiring people to hate Jews & even be violent towards them.” Morgan has also taken on the antisemitism in the British Labour Party, pointedly asking a senior Labour official who came on his “Good Morning, Britain” TV show, “How come the Labour Party has become synonymous with antisemitism?” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

VOICES

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VOICES

Anshul Saxena

Activist

Indian activist Anshul Saxena describes himself as “a programmer and an ethical hacker.” He is active on YouTube and other social media channels where he shares news and personal opinions. Saxena regularly tweets about politics, foreign affairs, and national security. A vocal supporter of Israel and of close bilateral relations between India and Israel, Saxena regularly tweets messages of solidarity with the Jewish state when it confronts cross-border attacks launched by Hamas and other Islamist groups. (Photo: Personal YouTube Channel / Screenshot)

VOICES

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VOICES

Vijeta Uniyal

Writer and activist

Vijeta Uniyal is an Indian writer based in Europe. He graduated from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and worked for more than 10 years in international organizations including the German Foreign Office, Goethe-Institut and Humboldt-Foundation. He is a regular contributor for the Legal Insurrection blog and a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Gatestone Institute. A renowned expert on Israel-India relations, Uniyal is also the founder of “Indians 4 Israel,” the leading Indian pro-Israel group online. (Photo: Personal YouTube Channel / Screenshot)

VOICES

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VOICES

Eric Weinstein

Managing director, Thiel Capital

Eric Weinstein is an American managing director of Thiel Capital, Peter Thiel's investment firm, a position he has held since 2015. An active commentator on Twitter, Weinstein shared a moving story about his family’s experiences in Nazi-occupied Europe in a poignant thread about “Jewish privilege.” Said Weinstein, “First cousin froze to death escaping Babi Yar… My cousins were a Mengele twin experiment.” He concluded that the word “privilege makes me laugh… Every person who has Jews they know and love knows the truth: we are always simply between pogroms.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

VOICES

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VOICES

Bari Weiss

Writer

Having established herself as one of America’s leading Jewish intellectuals of recent years, editor and writer Bari Weiss caused a storm when she resigned from her post with the New York Times in August, citing “bullying” at the hands of her colleagues as well as the “illiberal environment” prevailing at the paper. In her much-quoted resignation letter to the publisher of the New York Times, Weiss wrote frankly, “I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.” (Photo: Screenshot / Creative Commons License)

VOICES

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