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The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2021

In honor of The Algemeiner’s eighth annual gala, we are delighted to unveil our eighth ‘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 Jewish community and the Jewish state of Israel has seen significant and rising challenges over the past 12 months, specifically during the Gaza war in May. History has shown that misinformation and false accusations lead to hate speech, which rapidly evolves into the widespread attacks on Jewish people that we saw in cities around the world. It affirmed for us our shared long-held belief that truth saves lives. As such, in the compilation of this year’s ‘J100’ list we’ve placed particular emphasis on those standing at the forefront of the battle for truth. We hope you find your review of the list to be as valuable 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 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

Avi Bell

Law professor

Abraham (Avi) Bell is an Israeli Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law and at Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Law. With Israel condemned by much of the media during 2021 in relation to the dispute over property ownership in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, Bell provided much needed commentary and insight explaining Israel’s position. “Critics claim that the Israeli government should -- or even that international law requires it to -- deny the owners their property rights, but these claims are not based on any credible legal argument,” Bell wrote. “The critics demand that Israel discriminate against and disregard the property owners’ lawful property rights due to their Jewish ethnicity. It’s obvious that critics of Israel would pay no notice to the dispute if the owners were Palestinian and the squatters and overstaying tenants were Palestinian.” (Photo: courtesy)

ACADEMIA

2 .

ACADEMIA

Two of the leading historians of the Holocaust of 3 million Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland, Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski have been locked in a legal battle for much of 2021 that is now headed for Poland’s Supreme Court. The co-editors of the 1,600 page volume Night Without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties in Occupied Poland, both scholars have run afoul of Polish legislation that enables the prosecution of historians who examine the issue of Polish collusion with the Nazi extermination program -- part of a broader strategy by the Polish government to control the narrative of the Holocaust, with new legislation passed this year denying restitution payments to Holocaust survivors. Speaking to The Algemeiner in February, Grabowski – a professor in the history department of the University of Ottawa -- warned that the Polish government’s campaign would chill academic research. “If the state controls 90 or 95 percent of grant activities, then anything that smacks of an attack on national mythology will not be funded,” he said. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ACADEMIA

3 .

ACADEMIA

Jarrod Tanny

Professor

Jarrod Tanny is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He is the author of City of Rogues and Schnorrers: Russia’s Jews and the Myth of Old Odessa and is currently writing a book on Jewish humor in America. In June, Tanny stepped into the febrile debate about Israel following the recent hostilities in Gaza with a piece titled “The Loneliness of the Liberal Zionist.” In a passionate defense of his political position, Tanny remarked that “liberal Zionism in America is not merely a political position. It is also an expression of American Jewish identity. Liberal Zionists believe that American Jews, much like other minorities who have suffered oppression throughout history, have the right to celebrate their Jewish pride in public, to be a so-called hyphenated nationality, like African Americans, Latinx Americans, and Asian Americans. This is the underlying premise of American multiculturalism as preached (if not always practiced) since the 1960s.” (Photo: courtesy)

ACADEMIA

4 .

ACADEMIA

Lars Fischer

Academic

A scholar of Hebrew and Jewish studies and editor of an academic journal on Jewish history based at University College London (UCL), Lars Fischer abruptly resigned from his post in February. Fischer was disgusted by the demand of UCL’s Academic Board that the university’s administration rescind its adoption of the leading definition of antisemitism drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Acknowledging that his decision might deal a “likely fatal blow to my ability to function as a scholar,” Fischer wrote in a blog post that when he had “embarked on the academic study of antisemitism, it was still taken for granted that one did so in order to combat antisemitism.” He continued: “These days have long gone, and the academy is now full of academics who specialize in explaining why only some forms of antisemitism are harmful and others are not actually forms of antisemitism anyway.” (Photo: Critical Theories of Antisemitism Network)

ACADEMIA

5 .

ACADEMIA

Sean Kingsley

Maritime archaeologist

British maritime archaeologist Dr. Sean Kingsley announced a sensational discovery in April: evidence that proved the existence of the Israelite kingdom ruled by King Solomon. Based on his exploration of the Mediterranean basin for evidence of the empire that the Bible says Solomon built in alliance with the Phoenician king Hiram, Kingsley asserted that his findings appeared to confirm that Solomon was indeed the wealthy and powerful monarch described in the Bible who built a maritime empire through an alliance with the ancient Phoenicians. Kingsley added that while archeological excavations in Israel had found “nothing definitive that fits the book of Kings’ and Chronicles’ epic accounts of Solomon’s palace and temple, by exploring traces of ports, warehouses, industry, and shipwrecks, new evidence shakes up the quest for truth.” (Photo: courtesy)

ACADEMIA

6 .

ACTIVISM

Allan Jacob

Doctor

Dr. Allan Jacob is the president of Toras Emes Academy of Miami and chairman of the Rabbinical Seminary of America. In 2021, he was the driving force behind the formation of the Jewish Leadership Coalition for School Choice (JLCSC) – a partnership with the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America that represents more than 5,000 students. The JLC will capitalize on the strengths of its member organizations in order to support Jewish schools in Florida, galvanize segments of Florida’s Jewish community for school choice, and train and deploy lay leaders to effectively advocate for Jewish education. As Jacob pointed out in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Orthodox families on low incomes still require private schools for religious instruction. “That’s why many young families up north are enticed by Florida’s robust menu of state-supported private-school scholarships, worth on average about $7,500 a year, as well as expanded benefits for children with a wide range of disabilities,” Jacob emphasized. (Photo: Twitter)

ACTIVISM

7 .

ACTIVISM

Ariel Lurie

Activist

Aryeh Lurie is the founder and director of Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, an Israeli humanitarian organization dedicated to the needs of impoverished families, regardless of religious affiliation, ethnicity, age, and location of residence. The group distributes 3,000 food baskets every week, and 15,000 more during holiday seasons. The children who attend Yad Ezra V’Shulamit Children’s Centers are provided with a nutritious meal, academic tutoring, and an enriching social environment. Lurie -- who lives with his family in Jerusalem and was himself born into an impoverished home -- made a personal promise to overcome the challenges of poverty, achieve financial stability, and help others do so as well. He named the organization after his parents and modeled it according to the values of charity and kindness which they instilled in their family and community. (Photo: Yad Ezra)

ACTIVISM

8 .

ACTIVISM

Clive Mashishi

Activist

South African community organizer Clive Mashishi has made the fight against antisemitism his own, combating Holocaust denial, conspiracy theories blaming Jews for the COVID-19 pandemic and comparisons of Israel to South Africa’s former apartheid regime. In an extensive interview with The Algemeiner in March, Mashishi talked about his political journey and his embrace of Jewish causes underpinned by his Christian faith. His visit to Israel in 2018 persuaded him that the Jewish state was nothing like the white minority regime in South Africa. “I was a child during apartheid and my parents lived under it. We were segregated by law. If you rode a bus, you would see written, ‘Blacks only’. Signs were written only in Afrikaans and English. In Israel, the signs are written in Hebrew, Arabic and English.” As part of his effort to combating poverty in South Africa’s black communities, Mashishi runs a small foundation with about 15 volunteers providing children with free school uniforms, operating a soup kitchen and distributing food parcels to families in need. (Photo: Cuerius Mosala)

ACTIVISM

9 .

ACTIVISM

Elisha Wiesel

Businessman and activist

American businessman Elisha Wiesel is the only child of Jewish writer, activist, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and himself an activist fighting antisemitism. Speaking at a New York City rally in solidarity with Israel in May 2021, Wiesel recalled that his father had written a book called The Jews of Silence, a reference to “American Jews who refused to speak up for their Jewish brethren across oceans and borders.” Continued Wiesel: “Once again, too many of us have shamefully become the Jews of Silence. We have spoken up for every cause but our own.” In July, Wiesel went on to organize a rally against antisemitism in Washington, DC. “I am done being angry at Jews with whom I disagree,” he wrote afterwards. “I am saving my anger for the antisemites who threaten our safety in the Diaspora and in Israel, who lie about us in the halls of Congress and in American universities, who work within social, published and broadcast media to spread bias against us.” (Photo: Zioness)

ACTIVISM

10 .

ACTIVISM

Golan Vach

IDF leader

In one of the worst structural engineering failures in American history, Champlain Towers South -- a residential building in the Surfside district of Miami – partially collapsed on June 24, 2021, resulting in the deaths of 98 people. In the harrowing days that followed, IDF Col. Golan Vach led a team of 50 Israeli rescuers scouring through the rubble for survivors and helping with insights gleaned from decades of Israeli humanitarian assistance in earthquakes and other disasters around the world. “We are trying to be hopeful, but realistic at the same time,” Vach said of his discussions with family members of victims. He also spoke in a media interview about the Israeli team’s deep bond with local Florida rescuers. “We are going through this difficult time together. We talk every night... Sometimes we cry. It’s natural, but we are tough guys. This is our job and we will do it as best as we can,” he said. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ACTIVISM

11 .

ACTIVISM

Lily Ebert

Author

97-year-old London resident Lily Ebert published her extraordinary memoir, Lily’s Promise: How I Survived Auschwitz and Found the Strength to Live, in 2021. The book, co-written with her 17-year-old grandson Dov Forman, recounted the death of Ebert’s mother and two youngest siblings upon their arrival at the Auschwitz camp in 1944 after being deported from Hungary, and her dedication to keeping her two other sisters alive. She and her sisters were forced to work in a munitions factory and to join a death march that they barely survived. Lily’s Promise boasts a foreword written by Prince Charles, who is a patron of the UK’s Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)

ACTIVISM

12 .

ACTIVISM

Reuben Rotman

Activist

Reuben Rotman serves as the founding President and CEO of the recently established Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies. The Network is an international membership association which seeks to be the leading voice for the Jewish human service sector, and the go-to place for best practices, research, innovation, training and partnerships. With a focus on the needs of its 140 member organizations, the Network’s overarching goal is to strengthen its member agencies so they can better serve those who seek their help. Prior to his role with the Network, Rotman served as the Executive Director of Jewish Family Service of MetroWest New Jersey. (Photo: courtesy)

ACTIVISM

13 .

ACTIVISM

Xiyue Wang

Activist

American doctoral student Xiyue Wang’s four-year nightmare of incarceration in an Iranian prison began in 2015, when he was arrested by the authorities on trumped up charges of espionage after being granted a visa to conduct archival research in Iran. Sentenced to ten years in jail, Wang was released in 2019 in a prisoner exchange having spent 40 months in the notorious Evin jail. Speaking at a special event sponsored by The Algemeiner in April, Wang discussed how his perceptions of Israel were changed by his direct experience of Iranian repression. He observed that he had been “sympathetic to the cause of Israel as a nation state, but I was also critical of Israel, just like most academics would be, before I went to Iran. But then, having experienced the regime firsthand, having seen how the regime conducts things — I realized that Israel’s behavior in relation to Iran is completely understandable.” (Photo: AEI.org)

ACTIVISM

14 .

ACTIVISM

Shani Avigal

Activist

When five-year-old Ido Avigal was killed by a Hamas rocket attack on the Israeli town of Sderot in May 2021, a photo of the little boy with big brown eyes in his Mutant Ninja Turtles outfit went viral across the internet. But as the world mourned Ido’s brutal death, his mother Shani was lying in hospital with injuries sustained during the same attack, unaware of her son’s fate. In July, Shani, now recovered, and her husband Assaf organized a race in Sderot in Ido’s memory, drawing hundreds of participants. Shani reflected that Ido had left behind three “unwritten wills” — one to make sure people living in range of rockets fired from Gaza would be protected; one to teach his mother and father to be better parents; and a third to bring about his wish for solidarity among the people of Israel. (Photo: Semanario Hebreo Jai)

ACTIVISM

15 .

ACTIVISM

Joseph Borgen

Activist

A vicious beating in broad daylight in midtown Manhattan by a gang of pro-Palestinian thugs wasn’t going to keep Joseph Borgen quiet. On May 20, Borgen was kicked, beaten and pepper-sprayed by five assailants, some of whom masked their faces with Palestinian keffiyehs, as he made his way to a pro-Israel rally in Times Square. Four of the assailants have since been arrested by the New York Police Department. In a television interview after the attack, Borgen declared that he had “been a proud Jew my entire life, I’ve lived in New York my entire life. Never once before was I accosted verbally or felt threatened by the fact that I was Jewish, for wearing a kippah, or anything of that ilk or that nature.” His ordeal, he continued, “just reinforced my faith in the people that are my brothers in this religion, just because they give me the strength to continue on.” (Screenshot / The View)

ACTIVISM

16 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Artem Olegovich Dolgopyat is a Ukrainian-born Israeli artistic gymnast. Dolgopyat won the gold medal for floor exercise at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which took place in August 2021. He is also the 2020 European Champion for floor exercise and the winner of two silver medals at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships. Following his Olympic triumph, Dolgopyat arrived back to a hero’s welcome in Israel. “This is really the warmest welcome I ever got in my life,” he said, as a large crowd cheered him at Ben Gurion Airport. “I want to cry from all the excitement, even more than the medal.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

17 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Bill Maher

Comedian

Late-night talk show host Bill Maher has risen to Israel’s defense many times in the past, and 2021 was no different. As Israel and Hamas clashed in May, Maher took on anti-Israel celebrity Bella Hadid, who had voiced support for a Palestinian state in place of Israel. “You know, as far as Gaza goes, it’s amazing to me that the progressives think that they’re being progressive by taking that side of it, the Bella Hadids of the world, these influencers,” Maher said on his show. He added: “I just want to say in February of this year, a Hamas court ruled that an unmarried woman cannot travel in Gaza without the permission of a male guardian. Really? That’s where the progressives are? Bella Hadid and her friends would run screaming to Tel Aviv if they had to live in Gaza for one day.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

18 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Jacob Steinmetz

Athlete

History was made in Major League Baseball in July, as 17-year-old Jacob Steinmetz -- an Orthodox Jewish boy from Woodmere, NY, in Nassau County on Long Island -- was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third round of the MLB draft. The 6-foot-6, 222-pound, right-handed pitcher had attended the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns & Rockaway, later switching to the Elev8 Baseball Academy in Florida to hone his sports skills. According to the MLB, Steinmetz’s best pitch is said to be his 90 to 94 miles-per-hour fastball. Steinmetz isn’t the only athlete in his family. His father, Elliot, is the coach of Yeshiva University’s basketball team, which has had record-winning seasons for the last two years. (Photo: Twitter)

ARTS AND CULTURE

19 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Jake Cohen

Chef and author

Top celebrity chef Jake Cohen describes himself as a “nice Jewish boy who loves food.” Cohen studied at the Culinary Institute of America, during and after which he spent time working the line at NYC institutions, DANIEL and ABC Kitchen. Eventually, he transitioned out of restaurants and into food media, first at Saveur Magazine, where he began recipe testing in the publication's test kitchen. Cohen has also been Food Editor of TastingTable.com, the Food Critic for Time Out New York, and the Editorial and Test Kitchen Director of The Feedfeed. Cohen recently published his first cookbook, JEWISH. (Photo: personal homepage, Wake and Jake)

ARTS AND CULTURE

20 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Jonathan Lipnicki

Actor and activist

Actor Jonathan Lipnicki first became known as a child star, appearing in movies like "Jerry Maguire" (1996) and "Like Mike" (2002). Now 30-years-old, Los Angeles resident Lipnicki is centrally involved with a local volunteer group that helps Jews safely go to and from their synagogues following a slew of antisemitic attacks. “There have been a lot of antisemitic hate crimes and violence towards Jews,” Lipnicki – a jujitsu black belt – said in an interview. He said that his group’s purpose was “to make sure people got home and to the synagogue safely… families, women, children, because everybody should have the right to worship without being discriminated against.” Lipnicki’s efforts were warmly praised by Yaakov Hagoel, the chairman of the World Zionist Organization, who told him, “the work of you and your colleagues to assist Jews in openly and safely practicing their faith, while raising public awareness of the threat to Jewish communities, is extremely important.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

21 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Linoy Ashram

Athlete

Linoy Ashram is an Israeli individual rhythmic gymnast. She is the 2020 Olympic All-around Champion, the 2018 World All-around silver medalist, two-time World All-around bronze medalist, the 2020 European All-around champion, and the 2019 European Games All-around silver medalist. In an interview following her gold medal triumph in Tokyo earlier this year, she confessed to being overwhelmed by the adulation of the Israeli public. “It is so stunning to me how many people recognize me in the streets of Israel these days, anywhere and everywhere and people of all ages, even when I am wearing a mask<” Ashram said. Born into a Sephardic Jewish family, Ashram once said, “Due to the fact I’m not of Eastern European origin and knowing that everyone usually thinks that the successful gymnasts are Eastern European, I wanted to prove that it doesn’t have to be that way.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

22 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Meghan McCain

Commentator

Conservative pundit Meghan McCain – the daughter of the late Republican Senator John McCain – spoke out forcefully against rising antisemitism on several occasions during 2021. Appearing on ‘The View’ in May, during the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, McCain clashed with her fellow panelists for not tackling antisemitism on the left. She spotlighted hate crimes against Jews worldwide, and called for putting “the same energy” to denouncing hate crimes toward Jewish people as those against other minority groups. In an earlier media appearance, McCain made a similar observation, asserting that in the US, antisemitism appeared more likely to be forgiven than “racism of any other form.” She continued: “I think that antisemitism is still sort of the last form of passable bigotry in America… It’s why we, as Americans, seem to find more forgiveness in our heart for antisemitism than we do of racism of any other kind.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

23 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Noa Tishby

Actor, producer, activist

Fans already know Tel Aviv-born Noa Tishby as an actress, producer, activist and entrepreneur -- in 2021 she became an author as well. Tishy’s debut book, “Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth,” is a breakdown of the Jewish state in chronological order, from the biblical times to Israel’s founding, with key moments in the country’s history. “To anybody who is a supporter of Israel or knows his or her history, it’s self-evident that Israel is misunderstood; that Israel gets a disproportionate amount of attention and scrutiny to its size and standing in the world,” Tishby told The Algemeiner in an interview. “And it’s self-evident that it’s been skewed and filled with disinformation and misinformation that is targeting the single consistent democracy in the Middle East, which also happens to be a Jewish state.” (Photo: courtesy)

ARTS AND CULTURE

24 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Osvaldo Golijov

Composer

After a decade out of the limelight, Argentine classical composer Osvaldo Golijov reappeared in 2021 with a musical interpretation of the Israeli author David Grossman’s searing novel about a father’s grief, ‘Falling Out Of Time.’ In an interview, Golijov recalled Grossman telling him at their first meeting “that he and his wife were at home one night when two messengers came to tell them the news of the death of their son [while serving in the IDF]. And as soon as they heard that, they went upstairs to wake up their younger daughter, who was 12 at the time. And the first thing she said to them was, 'But we shall live.'" Born into a Jewish family that emigrated to Argentina from Romania, Golijov now lives in the United States. (Photo: homepage)

ARTS AND CULTURE

25 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Saeid Mollaei

Athlete

Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei -- who refused to return home after being ordered by the Tehran regime to withdraw from the 2019 World Judo Championships to avoid facing an Israeli opponent -- showed his gratitude to the Jewish state at the Tokyo Olympics in dramatic fashion. Mollaei dedicated his silver medal to Israel after competing in the final of the men’s judo 81-kilogram division on Tuesday at the Tokyo Olympics. "I hope the Israelis are happy with this win," Mollaei said, adding in Hebrew: "Todah (thank you)." Mollaei, who now represents Mongolia, trained with the Israeli judo team, including his friend and fellow judoka Shagi Muki. “I have trained with the Israeli team and they have been very kind,” Mollaei said. “That is something I will never forget.” (Photo: Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

ARTS AND CULTURE

26 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Selma Blair

Actor

Star US film actress Selma Blair was among more than 130 members of the entertainment industry who signed an open letter during May’s conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza calling on celebrities and influencers to stop spreading false information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The star of movies including “Dark Horse,” “Ordinary World” and “After,” Blair’s signature appeared beneath a letter calling on the entertainment industry “to stop posting misinformation and one-sided narratives that only work to inflame the conflict instead of bringing about peace… Our thoughts are with all Israelis and Palestinians who are experiencing unfathomable levels of fear and violence, and hope for the day when both peoples can live side by side in peace.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

27 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

Tom Stoppard

Playwright

One of Britain’s most celebrated playwrights, Sir Tom Stoppard’s work returned to the London stage in 2021 with the opening of “Leopoldstadt” -- the 84-year-old’s “reckoning with his Jewish roots,” according to The New York Times. The play tells the story of a Jewish family experiencing prosperity in Vienna during the first half of the twentieth century after fleeing from pogroms in Eastern Europe. According to Stoppard the play "took a year to write, but the gestation was much longer. Quite a lot of it is personal to me, but I made it about a Viennese family so that it wouldn’t seem to be about me." Born in the Czech republic, Stoppard’s four Jewish grandparents all perished during the Nazi Holocaust. Stoppard achieved fame on the stage with modern classics that include “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” “Travesties,” and “Arcadia.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

28 .

ARTS AND CULTURE

American Jewish actress Debra Messing – star of the hit NBC show “Will and Grace” -- struck a blow against antisemitism in 2021 when she rose to the defense of April Powers, a Black Jewish woman who lost her job after speaking out against antisemitism. “This cannot go unchallenged,” Messing wrote. “Condemning hate against Jews is NOT Islamophobic NOR Anti-Palestinian. If you think it is, you have a prejudice against Jews.” During the conflict between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization in May, Powers -- chief equity and inclusion officer at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) – had issued a statement condemning antisemitic violence towards Jews. A few days later, under pressure from the Palestinian lobby, the SCBWI issued an apology for the statement and Powers resigned from her job. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

ARTS AND CULTURE

29 .

BUSINESS

Avi Kaner

Activist and businessman

Avi Kaner is the co-owner of US chain Morton Williams Supermarkets as well as a social media activist on behalf of Israel. When ice cream manufacturers Ben and Jerry’s announced in July that its products would no longer be sold to Jewish communities in the West Bank, Kaner went on the counteroffensive, securing agreement from the Morton Williams Board to reduce the Ben & Jerry’s products it sells in its 16 stores in New York and New Jersey by 70 percent. “You’ll be able to find the product, but you’ll have to look for it,” Kaner told the New York Post. Photo: Twitter.

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BUSINESS

Eynat Guez is the founder and CEO of Papaya Global, an Israeli company that provides payroll management solutions. In March 2021, Papaya raised $100 million at a valuation of more than a billion dollars – and this just three weeks after Guez gave birth to her third child. “I try not to make it looks like everything is amazing,” the 41-year-old Guez said in a recent interview. “Building a company requires a lot of sacrifices and hard choices.” A strong advocate for diversity within companies, Guez is a supporter of Breaking the Impasse, an advocacy group of Israeli and Palestinian business leaders. (Photo: LinkedIn)

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BUSINESS

Mathias Doepfner

Publisher and business leader

Publishing mogul Mathias Doepfner, the chairman of Germany’s sprawling Axel Springer company, has never made a secret of his support for Israel. In May 2021, the Israeli flag flew over the company’s Berlin headquarters for a period of 11 days, as the Jewish state entered into a new round of hostilities with the Hamas terror organization. “I think, and I’m being very frank with you, a person who has an issue with an Israeli flag being raised for one week here, after antisemitic demonstrations, should look for a new job,” Doepfner told employees on a conference call. Among the five “values and principles” the company abides by, one reads: We support the Jewish people and the right of existence of the State of Israel.” (Photo: Tech Open Air / YouTube Screenshot)

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COMMUNITY

Ariel Zwang

Nonprofit leader

Ariel Zwang is CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the global Jewish humanitarian organization operating in 70 countries worldwide. In January 2021, Zwang took the helm of JDC and its team of hundreds of professionals. “My ancestors came from Eastern Europe in the 1920s, and they were hoping that I would have the life that I have had,” Zwang reflected on her appointment. “I grew up with a tremendous sense of gratitude.” Zwang previously led Safe Horizon, one of America’s leading social service agencies, where as CEO for twelve years. As a noted expert in social support for vulnerable populations and volunteerism advocate, Zwang has regularly appeared in media discussing these trends. (Photo: JDC.Org)

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COMMUNITY

Diane Lob

Nonprofit leader

Dianne Lob serves as Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. She was elected in April 2020 and served as the Conference’s first Chair-elect from April 2020 to March 2021. Lob became a Board Member of HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit protecting refugees, in 2010. She served as its first female Board Chair from 2016-2019. In this role, she led the Board through a growth period for the organization amid the largest global refugee crisis since World War II. During her time as Chair she also led HIAS through the aftermath of the murderous antisemitic attack on the Pittsburgh Synagogue that housed the Tree of Life, New Light and Dor Hadash congregations. Lob is also active with UJA-Federation of New York, serving on UJA’s Community Resources committee which works on broader community issues. (Photo: Courtesy of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations via JTA)

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COMMUNITY

Evan Bernstein

Activist

The CEO and National Director of the Community Security Service (CSS), which works to protect Jewish institutions, Evan Bernstein has been at the forefront of building greater security awareness and better security practices in the American Jewish community. “We are still in a time when antisemitism is very ugly,” Bernstein told The Algemeiner in September 2021. “Even though we saw a bit of a dip during the pandemic, we also saw over the summer, with the war in Gaza, a significant rise in antisemitism and many documented incidents across the country.” Bernstein also urged American Jews to recognize that “there are two silos of hate — the right and the left. It’s both, it’s not one or the other.” A former director of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) office serving the New York and New Jersey regions, Bernstein took the helm of CSS in June 2020. (Photo: courtesy)

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COMMUNITY

Malcolm Hoenlein

Nonprofit leader

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 (OSCE). (Photo: courtesy)

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COMMUNITY

Mitch Silber

Activist

Mitch Silber is the executive director of the Community Security Initiative at the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, a post he took up in February 2020. A former director of intelligence analysis at the New York City Police Department, Silber has said that his priority is to “really to reduce the climate of fear that unfortunately exists now.” Silber noted that he took the job because he’s “not really a person who sits on the sidelines watching the action happen…After 9/11, I left a career in corporate finance to get into the world of counterterrorism to protect in the city. I had a societal obligation to step up, so this was a very similar decision.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

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COMMUNITY

Shari Dollinger and Diana Hagee are the Co-Executive Directors of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States. Before they took over in 2018, Hagee previously served as Chief-of-Staff to her husband, CUFI founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee, while Dollinger had served as CUFI’s Associate Director since 2007. The organization provides a critical link between the Jewish state and the 90 million-strong Evangelical community in the US. “If people are not tied spiritually to Israel, when Israel does something they don’t agree with, they can walk away,” Dollinger said in a recent interview. “If the link to Israel is through Scripture, tied to who they are – once you are rooted, you cannot walk away.” (Photos: courtesy)

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COMMUNITY

William Daroff

Nonprofit leader

Now entering his third year as CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, William Daroff spoke on behalf of the US Jewish community on key events both domestic and international in 2021. A vocal defender of Israel’s interests, Daroff urged bipartisan support for the Jewish state as he called on the US Congress to support $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. “In funding Iron Dome, Congress will be affirming to the terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah that America continues to stand by Israel’s right to defend herself,” Daroff declared. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

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COMMUNITY

French justice delivered a cruel blow to the country’s Jewish community in April 2021, when the nation’s highest court ruled that the accused murderer of Sarah Halimi – a Jewish woman brutally beaten to death in her own apartment by an antisemitic intruder in April 2017 – would be excused from a criminal trial on the grounds that his intake of cannabis on the night of the killing had rendered him temporarily insane. In response, Halimi family attorneys Gilles-William Goldnadel and Francis Szpiner announced that they were taking the case against the accused, Kobili Traoré, to the Israeli courts in behalf of Halimi’s sister, Israeli citizen Esther Lekover. Under Israeli law, there is the possibility of trying antisemitic crimes committed abroad if the complaint is filed by a citizen of Israel. However, France does not have an extradition treaty with Israel. “Following the appalling judgment ruling out any criminal sanction against the murderer of Sarah Halimi, I enter a complaint to the Israeli justice system against Traoré on behalf of Esther, Sarah's sister,” Goldnadel declared. “No to the denial of justice.” (Photos: Twitter and Wikimedia)

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COMMUNITY

Max Yakover is the CEO of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center (BYHMC), established in Ukraine by a private foundation in 2016 to build a Holocaust museum in Kiev containing the historical facts, testimonies and narratives that were silenced for decades and to find names of victims. A new synagogue honoring the tens of thousands of victims of the Babi Yar massacre – where in September 1941 more than 33,000 Jewish men, women and children were gunned down during just two days by Nazi death squads -- was unveiled by BYHMC in April as the world marked Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Memorial Day, in the Jewish world. Designed by internationally-known architect Manuel Herz, the synagogue is decorated with restored paintings, patterns and texts of prayers, with references to two destroyed 17th and 18th century Ukrainian synagogues. (Photo: LinkedIn)

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GOVERNMENT

Abdulla Bin Touq

UAE Minister of Economy

United Arab Emirates Economy Minister Abdulla Bin Touq has made the development of economic relations with Israel a priority in the wake of his country’s historic peace agreement with the Jewish state. In an interview last September, Bin Touq stated his ambition to grow the ties by $1 trillion over the next decade, building on relationships that have already produced billions of dollars worth of business in the space of a year. “We have $600 to $700 million dollars of bilateral trade happening, we have funds of billions of dollars that have been announced jointly between the two countries, we are moving into so many areas of economic opportunities,” Bin Touq said. “We are looking to create over $1 trillion dollars of economic activity over the next decade.” (Photo: Atlantic Council)

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GOVERNMENT

Ahmad Massoud

Afghanistan resistance leader

The last bastion of resistance to the Taliban following their reconquest of Afghanistan this year, the National Resistance Front led by Ahmad Massoud is fighting what many observers regard as an impossible battle from its base in the Panjshir Valley. “We Afghans find ourselves in the situation of Europe in 1940,” Massoud told the French writer Bernard Bernard-Henri Lévy in August. “Except in Panjshir, the debacle is near total, and the spirit of collaboration with the Taliban is spreading among the vanquished, who lost this war by their own failings. Only we remain standing. And we will never yield.” In a defiant statement at the end of September, amid widespread reports of a renewed Taliban offensive against Massoud’s forces, he reiterated his determination to confront the Taliban’s reign of terror. "If we give up on resistance, Afghanistan will turn into a safe haven for international terrorists,” he warned the outside world. (Photo: Reuters)

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GOVERNMENT

Amikam Norkin

General

An Israeli general and outgoing commander of the Israeli Air Force, Amikam Norkin was born in Israel to parents who made Aliyah from Romania. Appointed as head of the Air Force in 2017, Norkin’s distinguished military career included becoming the youngest F-15 pilot in the world, following his graduation from the IAF Flight Academy in 1985. He served in Israel’s war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, taking command of “Operation Density,” in which the majority of the Iranian-backed terror organization’s Fajr missiles were destroyed in the space of 34 minutes. After four years as head of the Air Force, Norkin will now be replaced by Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar, who currently leads the IDF’s Force Design Directorate. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

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GOVERNMENT

Armin Laschet

German politician

The chosen successor of long-serving German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Armin Laschet -- the prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous federal state in the German Republic – led the center-right CDU/CSU in 2021’s bitterly-fought German election. A stalwart supporter of Israel and fighter against antisemitism throughout his career (Laschet was condemning the antisemitism in Palestinian textbooks as a Member of the European Parliament back in 2001), he called for a ban on the display of the Hamas flag at demonstrations in Germany in May, during the renewed conflict in Gaza. “Antisemitism, marginalization and discrimination have no place in Germany,” Laschet declared. “Our commitment is: Never again. Never again violence and hatred against Jews.” As prime minister of his home state, meanwhile, Laschet initiated a programme of joint visits to Auschwitz for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim young people aged 16 to 24 and ruled out cooperation between his party and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

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GOVERNMENT

Aviv Kochavi

IDF Chief of Staff

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)

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GOVERNMENT

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli political leader

A fixture of The Algemeiner’s J-100 list, Benjamin Netanyahu appears in 2021 for the first time in his new guise as the leader of Israel’s opposition. Despite his defeat in this year’s election, Netanyahu is nonetheless Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister, having held the post for a total of fifteen years. The first Israeli premier to be born in Israel after statehood was established, Netanyahu 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 various Arab countries further cemented this process. (Photo: Abir Sultan / Pool via Reuters)

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GOVERNMENT

Benny Gantz

Israeli Minister of Defense

Currently serving as Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense in the wake of the 2021 election, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz had originally been scheduled to become Prime Minister this November, under the terms of the deal he agreed with the former incumbent, Benjamin Netanyahu, the previous year. In September, Gantz led the Israeli government’s response to the insistence of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN that Israel withdraw to the 1948 boundaries within a year. “[Abbas] issued an ultimatum and climbed a tall tree that will be difficult to climb down from,” Gantz observed, adding: “It is important to remember one thing — no one is going anywhere. It is important to recognize this and that the only way to deal with this reality is to develop security, develop the economy and strengthen the governance of the Palestinian Authority.” Gantz has also approved the construction of 2,000 new housing units for Jewish communities in the West Bank. Before entering politics, Gantz enjoyed a distinguished military career, the highlights of which included his command of the 1991 mass airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. (Photo: Abir Sultan / Pool via Reuters / File)

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GOVERNMENT

David Barnea

Israeli intelligence chief

David Barnea, the new director of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, is in no doubt: Iran remains the dominant threat to the security of the Jewish state. At his swearing-in ceremony in June, Barnea declared: “We need to say it loudly and clearly: Iran is working at this very moment to realize its nuclear dream under the cover of international protection.” He promised that the “arm of the Mossad” would continue to operate with full force against the Iranian nuclear program. “We’re well familiar with the nuclear program and its different parts. We personally know the workers involved in it and those directing them,” he said. Prior to replacing Yossi Cohen in the top Mossad post, Barnea served in the Israel Defense Forces’ elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit before being appointed as Mossad’s deputy director in 2019. (Photo: official government image)

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GOVERNMENT

Esther Hayut

President of Israel’s Supreme Court

Appointed as President of Israel’s Supreme Court in 2017, chief justice Esther Hayut is increasingly regarded as one of the most influential incumbents in the post. The challenges that Hayut has dealt with include the legal issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic, in her case ruling at the height of the pandemic that Israel’s domestic security service had a temporary right to keep infected persons under surveillance. This year has also seen Hayut and her colleagues on the court endorse the Jewish Nation State Law (to the dismay of some on the left), as well as bolstering the rights of women during divorce (to the dismay of some on the right.) Born in Israel in 1953, Hayut’s career at the Supreme Court began with her appointment as a justice in 2004. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

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GOVERNMENT

Gilad Erdan

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN

Appointed as Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in 2020, Gilad Erdan has been a strong and vocal representative of the Jewish state at an institution that has systematically discriminated against it. An active proponent of the historic peace agreements reached between Israel and several Arab nations in 2020, Erdan marked the first anniversary of the Abraham Accords by hailing the progress made in the region. “I strongly believe that as others in the region see the fruits of our partnerships and feel this transformation, they will join our circle of peace,” Erdan stated at a ceremony in New York City. Erdan has also clashed with New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over her attempt to legislatively block certain US weapons sales to Israel. “Your amendment further legitimizes Hamas’s heinous attacks against innocent civilians, as well as antisemitic lies,” Erdan told her in September. Prior to his arrival at the UN, Erdan was Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, where he coordinated the government’s strategy against the Palestinian-led efforts to delegitimize and boycott the State of Israel. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

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GOVERNMENT

Isaac Herzog

President of Israel

Elected as the 11th President of the State of Israel in July 2021, Isaac Herzog keeps making history: He is the first son of a former Israeli President, Chaim Herzog, to take over the same post and the first head of state to receive the credentials of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s inaugural Ambassador to Israel. At the ceremony to welcome Ambassador Khaled Yousif Al-Jalahma, Herzog extended his “warm feelings of friendship and respect and affection between our nations as we had made history in the last year together. The growing partnership between our two countries is a model for the entire Middle East and I hope that other countries in the region will be inspired by your example.” Prior to becoming Israel’s President, Herzog served as the head of the Jewish Agency. (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

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GOVERNMENT

Letitia James

New York Attorney General

“Tish gets it.” That was the appreciative judgement of Rabbi David Zwiebel — executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America – following New York Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James’s decisive action to end the discriminatory housing practices that have prevented members of the Jewish community from moving to Chester, a small town in upstate New York that lies to the west of the mainly Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel. “The discriminatory and illegal actions perpetrated by Orange County and the Town of Chester are blatantly antisemitic, and go against the diversity, inclusivity, and tolerance that New York prides itself on,” James declared as she announced her decision. “Every New Yorker deserves equal opportunities in housing, regardless of gender, race, nationality, or their faith.” The 67th Attorney General for the State of New York, James is the first woman of color to hold statewide office in New York and the first woman to be elected to the AG’s role. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

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GOVERNMENT

Marcus Solomon

Australian Supreme Court Justice

Marcus Solomon made history in August when he became the first Orthodox Jewish Rabbi to be appointed to a supreme court in Australia. The newest justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, Rabbi Solomon told an Australian news outlet that his appointment was “a tremendous honor and responsibility, and rather overwhelming when one pauses to contemplate the heaviness of that duty.” An experienced commercial litigator and arbitrator, Rabbi Solomon was admitted to practice in 1991. He reflected that his appointment demonstrated that Australian Jews "are blessed with a country that is not only tolerant but that embraces and seeks to continue to embrace and improve its embracing of people from different backgrounds and different cultures.” (Photo: Carmel School)

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GOVERNMENT

Mitch McConnell

US Senator

Veteran Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell has been the minority leader in the US Senate since the beginning of 2021, following six years in the post of majority leader. A seasoned player in the rough and tumble of American politics, the conservative McConnell has been a thorn in the side of the Biden Administration’s efforts on issues ranging from the debt ceiling to Supreme Court appointments. On the foreign policy front, McConnell has always been a stalwart supporter of the State of Israel and an opponent of the Iranian regime and radical Islamist groups. During the conflict between Israel and Hamas in May 2021, McConnell dismissed as “nonsense” the view “that this conflict is a tragic dispute between two legitimate combatants where both sides share blame that is roughly equal.” Such moral equivalence was “obscene,” McConnell said on the floor of the Senate. (Photo: US Government)

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GOVERNMENT

Mogoeng Mogoeng

South African Chief Justice

The Chief Justice of South Africa since 2011, Mogoeng Mogoeng has come under sustained attack from his country’s powerful pro-Palestinian lobby for his declaration of support for the State of Israel. After Mogoeng told an online conference that his “love” for Israel was based upon his Christian faith, pro-Palestinian organizations lodged a complaint with South Africa’s Judicial Service Commission, which subsequently found him guilty of “misconduct.” Mogoeng refused to issue the required apology, however, responding that “even if 50 million people were to march every day for 10 years for me to do so, I would not apologize. If I perish, I perish.” At a later prayer meeting, Mogoeng told the audience that “if I get to the point where there is a judgment that says, ‘You must say you hate Israel and the Jews’, I would rather cease to be Chief Justice.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

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GOVERNMENT

Naftali Bennett

Prime Minister of Israel

Forty-nine-year-old Naftali Bennett became Israel’s Prime Minister in June 2021, following an election victory over his rival Benjamin Netanyahu, the incumbent since 2009. The leader of the nationalist Yamina Party, Bennett is scheduled to remain in office until September 2023 when he will rotate with current Foreign Minister Yair Lapid under the terms of their coalition government. The son of American Jews who made Aliyah to Israel, the Haifa-born Bennett rose to the rank of Major in the IDF and went on to become a millionaire in Israel’s burgeoning technology sector. Bennett paid his first visit to the US as Prime Minister in September, where he issued a resounding warning on Iran in a speech to the UN General Assembly. “Iran’s great goal is crystal clear to anybody who cares to open their eyes: Iran seeks to dominate the region — and seeks to do so under a nuclear umbrella,” Bennett said. “Israel is, quite literally, surrounded by Hezbollah, Shia militias, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas. These terror groups seek to dominate the Middle East and spread radical Islam across the world. They all want to destroy my country, and they are all backed by Iran.” (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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GOVERNMENT

Nicola Beer

European Parliament Vice-President

In September 2021, European Parliament Vice-President Nicola Beer spoke with refreshing candor on the subject of EU funding for Palestinian educational resources that include school textbooks rife with antisemitic imagery and language, as well as the glorification of terrorists like Dalal al-Mughrabi, who participated in the murder of 38 Israelis, including 11 children, in a 1978 attack on a bus traveling along Israel’s coastal highway. “Depicting Jews as dangerous, demonizing them, perpetuating anti-Jewish prejudices is just upsetting,” Beer — a representative of Germany’s FDP Party — told a meeting of the EU Working Group Against Antisemitism. “But reading about schoolbooks — and here I speak as a mother — glorifying terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, presenting cold-blooded violence against civilians, including a lot of children, as resistance, leaves me speechless.” Beer and her allies have pledged to review aid to the Palestinian Authority should the textbooks remain unchanged. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

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GOVERNMENT

Hungarian judge Péter Kovács was the lone dissenting voice on a three-person panel of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which ruled in February that the ICC’s territorial jurisdiction in the “Situation in Palestine, a State party to the ICC Rome Statute,” covered the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, alleging that the areas had been “occupied” by Israel since 1967 — a notion that Jerusalem disputes. “I cannot accept and even less understand why a Chamber should accept as given, and quasi mandatory, a statement on the existence of ‘the territory of the State’ when…all the indications show that it is premature to speak of a full-fledged ‘State’ and of ‘the territory of the State’,” he wrote in his opinion. As a professor of public international law at the University of Budapest, Kovács is a recognized expert on various aspects of international humanitarian law, including the development and limits of international jurisprudence. (Photo: Courtesy ICC-CPI/Max Koot)

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GOVERNMENT

Steny Hoyer

US Congressman

Veteran Democratic legislator Steny Hoyer has served as the US House of Representatives Majority Leader since 2019. Throughout his career, the Maryland congressman has been a staunch friend of both the US Jewish community and the State of Israel. In May 2021, as Israel was drawn back into conflict with Hamas in Gaza, Hoyer denounced the Islamist group as a “terrorist organization whose aim is nothing short of mass murder and the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state.” Hoyer also articulated why Democrats have traditionally supported Israel, remarking that “the Jewish state’s rebirth was an inspiring act of progressive justice.” More recently, in September Hoyer introduced legislation to provide $1 billion to Israel to replenish its “Iron Dome” missile-defense system, a day after the funding was removed from a broader spending bill. “Iron Dome has saved countless lives since 2010, including during the conflict in May, protecting schools, hospitals, synagogues, and family homes,” Hoyer said on the House Floor. (Photo: United States Congress)

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GOVERNMENT

Yahya Afridi

Pakistani Supreme Court Justice

In March, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that the evidence against the murderers of American Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl was “flawed,” setting the four terrorists responsible free, among them the British-born Islamist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. But one judge on the three-person panel did dissent. Judge Yahya Afridi wrote a 42-page dissenting opinion, noting the ample evidence that Sheikh was the last person seen with Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was gruesomely decapitated by an Al Qaeda cell that kidnapped him the Pakistani city of Karachi. "The prosecution's evidence against Ahmed Omar Sheikh in the Daniel Pearl murder case was sufficient," Afridi declared. (Photo: Supreme Court of Pakistan)

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GOVERNMENT

Yair Lapid

Foreign Minister of Israel

The leader of Israel’s centrist Yesh Atid Party and the current Foreign Minister in the new government formed in 2021, Yair Lapid has taken to the top diplomat’s post with gusto, embracing Israel’s new friends in the Middle East but equally unafraid to speak his mind. In September, Lapid made history twice in one day, opening the first Israeli Embassy in the Arab Gulf kingdom of Bahrain in the first such visit by an Israeli minister. Speaking at an earlier meeting in Washington, DC, Lapid made sure to emphasize “the fact that this Abraham Accords club is open for new members as well, and one of our goals, our common goals, is to make sure that other countries will follow suit and join us in this Accords and in this new era of cooperation and friendship.” At the same time, Lapid has not shied away from conflicts, including an unprecedented bilateral crisis between Israel and Poland over the latter country’s recent legislation to deny restitution payments to survivors of the Holocaust. “Gone are the days when Poles harmed Jews without consequence,” Lapid stated in August. “Today, Jews have a proud and strong country of their own. We do not fear antisemitic threats and have no intention of turning a blind eye to the shameful conduct of the anti-democratic Polish government.” (Photo: REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal)

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GOVERNMENT

Rivka Ravitz

Chief of staff

The chief of staff of former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Rivka Ravitz literally brought US President Joe Biden to his knees during a White House visit in July 2021. On discovering that Ravitz is the mother of 12 children in addition to her demanding public role, the US leader sank to one knee in respect, before telling her: “I have a picture of my mother here, you have to see who she was!” A leading voice in Israel’s haredi community, Ravitz was the subject of an extensive Foreign Policy magazine feature in July which explored whether she might “break the glass ceiling of ultra-Orthodox politics in Israel.” “The Haredi politicians say it’s religious law that women cannot be Knesset members. But I think they’re just afraid,” she told the magazine. “They’re afraid that we’ll take their places.” (Photo: Haim Zach / GPO)

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GOVERNMENT

Alma Hernandez

Arizona State Legislator

The first Mexican-American Jewish person ever elected to public office in the United States, and daughter of an immigrant, Democratic state legislator Rep. Alma Hernandez represents Arizona’s 3rd House District in Tucson. Hernandez is known as an outspoken advocate for the U.S.-Israel relationship and a passionate supporter of Holocaust education in schools. In March 2020, Hernandez was the lead sponsor for a bill requiring Arizona law enforcement to track antisemitic crimes and adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which includes “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” Prior to winning office, Hernandez worked at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, leading the Jewish Community Relations Council. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

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GOVERNMENT

Elaine Luria

US Congresswoman

Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria of Virginia has been a tireless advocate for the US-Israel bilateral relationship since being elected to the House of Representatives in 2019. A veteran of the US Navy, Luria succeeded in deepening connections between the US and Israel despite the challenges of a global pandemic – in this case, for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among servicemen and women. In a time for our country that seems very challenging, we can come together and help our service members and strengthen the US-Israel relationship,” Luria stated in September. “I worked to ensure that the US-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act was included in this year’s defense budget.” Luria explained: "We want to help veterans and provide resources to veterans, and many times we find these tragic veteran suicides that they have not been connected to Veterans’ Affairs or the resources that were available." (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

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GOVERNMENT

Sahar Karim al-Ta’i

Iraqi leader

Despite the perils of speaking out in Iraq in favor of peace with Israel, Sahar Karim al-Ta’I, a senior figure in the country’s Ministry of Culture, did just that in September 2021. Ta’l was among more than 300 leaders of Iraqi civil society who gathered in the Kurdish region for a conference that publicly backed peace with Israel. During her speech, she discussed the expulsion of Iraq’s Jews, the vast majority of whom fled to Israel amid rising persecution following the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948.

“They looked to Iraq, and are still looking to her, waiting for the eyes of their proverbial mother to show affection for her lost children,” she said. “They are still waiting for the moment when Israel is recognized by Iraq as their country and that of their brethren who share the country with them.” Following the conference, the Iraqi authorities issued arrest warrants for Ta’l and other participants, accusing them of having broken Iraqi law by advocating for peace with Israel. (Photo: screenshot)

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GOVERNMENT

Annamie Paul

Lawyer and politician

A female lawyer who is Black and Jewish, Annamie Paul made Canadian history in October 2020 when she was elected to lead the country’s Green Party in the face of a strong challenge from a veteran anti-Israel activist. The daughter of immigrants from the Caribbean who converted to Judaism in 2000, Paul said that in the run-up to the election, she had been targeted with antisemitic abuse on social media. “There are very explicit comments questioning my loyalty to Canada because I am Jewish,” Paul said. “There are those who have suggested that I am seeking to infiltrate the party on behalf of Zionist elements.” Paul’s tenure at the helm of the Green Party ended unhappily in September 2021, when she resigned following the party’s poor showing in the Canadian general election. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)

GOVERNMENT

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INNOVATION

Eliezer Rabinovici

Professor

In 2021, Professor Eliezer Rabinovici became the first Israeli physicist to be elected President of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) Council, the world’s largest particle physics lab. The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities announced that this was “the first time an Israeli researcher has been elected to such a senior position in the world’s most important scientific organization for the study of high-energy physics.” Said Prof. Rabinovici: “CERN is a special place where science and collaboration meet to answer some of the most fundamental questions about the world we live in. I am honored that the Council chose me as their next President.” (Photo: CERN)

INNOVATION

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INNOVATION

Saar Safra

Entrepreneur

Israeli businessman Saar Safra is a serial entrepreneur. In 2018, he founded a new company dedicated to b ringing the precision of technology to the art of beekeeping. Three years on, Beewise employs over 70 employees having raised over $40 million from local and international investors. The company’s main offering is the first automated and autonomous beehive, dubbed the Beehome. According to Safra, the technology is a much-needed solution to protect bee populations and help them thrive. “Humans can’t treat bees in real-time,” he explained in a media interview. “If there’s a problem, you don’t know about it until you get to the hives.” The company has deployed about 100 Beehomes to date and expects to deliver hundreds more over the next few months, with the goal of selling tens of thousands in the coming years. (Photo: LinkedIn)

INNOVATION

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PHILANTHROPY

Andrés Spokoiny

Philanthropist

Andrés Spokoiny is the president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, an international community of private foundations and philanthropists with over 2,500 members from 11 countries around the world. He is a longtime Jewish communal leader with a history of leading successful organizational transformations. He served as the CEO of Federation CJA in Montreal and, prior to that, worked for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Community (JDC) in Paris. As Regional Director for Northeast Europe, he was responsible for a number of pan-European projects. Originally from Argentina, he has a multidisciplinary academic background that includes business, education, and rabbinical studies. (Photo: Twitter)

PHILANTHROPY

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PHILANTHROPY

Felicia Herman

Philanthropist

In 2021, Felicia Herman became Chief Operating Officer of the Maimonides Fund after 17 years leading Natan, a Jewish giving circle whose members pool their charitable contributions to support Jewish and Israeli social innovation. Since April 2020, she has been Director of the Aligned Grant Program of the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund, a collaboration between several of the largest American Jewish foundations to help Jewish organizations weather the COVID-19 pandemic; she is also Managing Editor of Sapir, a new journal of Jewish ideas. She serves on the boards of the American Jewish Historical Society and the DreamStreet Theater Company, a performing arts company for adults with developmental disabilities. She is a recipient of the Jewish Funders Network's JJ Greenberg Memorial Award. (Photo: Natan)

PHILANTHROPY

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PHILANTHROPY

Miriam Adelson

Philanthropist

Israeli-born medical doctor Miriam Adelson specializes in the treatment of addiction/ She was the co-founder of the Sheldon G. Adelson Research Clinic in Las Vegas, which treats people for opioid use disorder, with her husband, the late philanthropist Sheldon Adelson. A staunch supporter of Israel and the Republican Party, Miriam Adelson now owns over half of the $48 billion gambling empire launched by Sheldon Adelson, with casinos in Las Vegas, Singapore and Macau. Miriam Adelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018. The Adelson Foundation gives $200 million annually to Jewish and Israeli causes, the largest sum of any existing private foundation with that aim. (Photo: courtesy)

PHILANTHROPY

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PHILANTHROPY

Stacy Schusterman

Philanthropist

Stacy Schusterman is Chair of Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, a giving organization with an established track record of support for Jewish causes in the US and Israel. A businesswoman and philanthropist, she began her career at her father Charles' oil and gas company, Samson Resources. “Our Jewish values have always been — and will always be — at the core of our family’s philanthropy: a commitment to the pursuit of justice (tzedek), repairing the world (tikkun olam) and treating all people with dignity and civility (derekh eretz),” Schusterman wrote in a Jan 2021 blogpost affirming her foundation’s mission. “We are committed to building a joyful and inclusive Jewish community that lives by Jewish values, strengthens support for Israel and contributes to a more just world.” (Photo: Schusterman.org)

PHILANTHROPY

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PHILANTHROPY

Terry Kassel

Philanthropist

Terry Kassel is a philanthropist committed to the future of the Jewish people and Israel. She co-founded Start-Up Nation Central (SNC), which connects the world to Israeli innovation, and the Jewish Food Society (JFS), which preserves and elevates Jewish culinary heritage. In July 2021, SNC and JFS launched Asif: Culinary Institute of Israel, which nurtures Israel’s diverse and creative culinary scene. As a trustee of the Paul E. Singer Foundation, Kassel played a leading role in the Jewish community’s response to COVID-19 by driving additional support to Jewish day schools, camps, and other at-risk institutions. And she increased the capacity of New York’s Jewish community security infrastructure to respond to increasing threats to Jewish life. She was a founding board member of OneTable, which seeks to connect young Jews to their peers and Jewish community through Shabbat dinner experiences. Professionally, Kassel has served in senior executive positions at Merrill Lynch and Elliott Management. (Photo: The Tikvah Fund)

PHILANTHROPY

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RELIGION

Septimus and Wolkenfeld are, respectively, the chief executive officer and the chief learning officer of Sefaria -- a non-profit organization offering free access to texts, translations, and commentaries “so that everyone can participate in the ongoing process of studying, interpreting, and creating Torah.” With the full range of Jewish texts from the Torah to the writings of sages from the Second Century CE, Sefaria is poised to transform the study of Judaism through its online community, whether one’s goal is to study the weekly Torah portion, check the latest offerings of Jewish scholars or read up on a particular festival. (Photo: Personal LinkedIn, Shalom Hartman Institute)

RELIGION

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RELIGION

Elie Abadie

Senior Rabbi

Elie Abadie is the Senior Rabbi of the United Arab Emirates. He was the founding rabbi of Shaare Mizrah-Manhattan East Synagogue, the Head of School of the Sephardic Academy of Manhattan, and the Spiritual Leader of the Moise Safra Community Center in Manhattan. From 2003 to 2017 he was the founding Rabbi and Spiritual Leader of the Edmond J. Safra in New York City Abadie is also the former Director of the Jacob E. Safra Institute of Sephardic Studies at Yeshiva University, where he researched and lectured on the topics of Sephardic Judaism, history, philosophy, and comparative traditional law. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Rabbi Abadie serves as president of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC). (Photo: Association of Gulf Jewish Community)

RELIGION

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RELIGION

Levi Duchman

Rabbi

American-born Chabad Rabbi Levi Duchman currently serves as the head of the Jewish Community Center of the United Arab Emirates. Fluent in five languages, including Arabic and French, Duchman’s work in the UAE included the mounting of the first exhibition about the Nazi Holocaust ever held in the emirate. A vocal advocate of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Duchman experienced a proud moment when he affixed the mezuzah onto the doorpost of the newly-opened Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi. (Photo: courtesy)

RELIGION

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RELIGION

Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik is director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. Prior to this, Soloveichik served as associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan. Rabbi Soloveichik has lectured throughout the United States, in Europe, and in Israel to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences on topics relating to Jewish theology, bioethics, wartime ethics, and Jewish-Christian relations. His essays on these subjects have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, First Things, Azure, Tradition, and the Torah U-Madda Journal. Soloveichik is also the host of Bible 365, a daily podcast. (Photo: courtesy)

RELIGION

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RELIGION

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: Youtube)

RELIGION

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RELIGION

The rabbi of the Shul of Bal Harbour in Miami Beach, Sholom Lipskar was faced with a massive relief operation following the collapse in June of the Champlain Towers South residential building, in which 98 people were killed. Jewish families who lost everything in the rubble turned to the synagogue for help, while rescue crews attending to the scene were provided with meals from the synagogue kitchen. In such a situation, “leadership is a kind of burden because you’re empathizing with so much pain that you find it hard to maintain composure, which is so necessary to sustain the kind of feelings you want people to have,” Lipskar reflected in a media interview. He added: “When the physical is challenged to such a degree, there’s still that spirituality we can hold onto.” Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the 74-year-old Lipskar was ordained in the Lubavitch Yeshiva of Brooklyn in 1968. (Photo: Chabad.org)

RELIGION

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RELIGION

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: Lubavitch.com)

RELIGION

81 .

TOMORROW

Hananya Naftali

Activist

Social media influencer Hananya Naftali describes himself as “that Israeli who talks to the camera about peace in the Middle East.” He became an advocate for Israel while serving in his country’s military, fighting with a tank unit during the 2014 war against the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza. “After the war, as I went online I saw so many lies spread on the media - falsely talking about Israel,” Naftali recalled. “So I decided to be crazy enough and try to spread the truth against all the lies.” He says that his goal is to “show the world the real side of Israel: The beauty of the country, the truth, the history and the future of Israel.” (Photo: Facebook)

TOMORROW

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TOMORROW

Jordyn Tilchen

Entertainment editor and journalist

“Some things are worth losing friends over. Antisemitism is one of them. Let. Them. Go,” posted social media influencer Jordyn Tilchen on Twitter, in one of many missives challenging anti-Jewish prejudice. Tilchen is also an entertainment editor with a specific interest in breaking celebrity news, internet culture, and pop music. Previously, she worked at MTV News, J-14, and Clevver, where she primarily covered trending news, social media stars, YA shows and movies, pop music, and all other areas of entertainment. (Photo: courtesy)

TOMORROW

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TOMORROW

Julia Jassey

Activist and feminist

Jewish feminist Julia Jassey is the executive director of “Jewish on Campus,” an activist organization combating antisemitism in universities. Jassey is also a scholar with the American Sephardi Federation and the co-host of the Nice Jewish Girls podcast. An undergraduate at the University of Chicago, Jassey was the subject of a July 2021 CNN profile in which she discussed her experience of antisemitism on her own campus, and her consequent decision to found a group for Jewish students who had undergone similar trauma. "It's intense," Jassey said of experiences dealing with hate online. "I've gotten death threats, I've gotten sexual assault threats, I've gotten called lots of slurs, my family's gotten death threats." (Photo: courtesy)

TOMORROW

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TOMORROW

Lorena Khateeb

Activist

A member of Israel’s Druze minority, Lorena Khateeb runs social media operations in Arabic for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the wake of the historic peace agreement in 2020 between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Khateeb has become the link between Israelis and Emiratis across several social media networks. Describing the peace agreement as her “dream,” Khateeb told an Arab news agency in an extensive interview that “the first thing I thought was about that the people who contact us will no longer be afraid to make their voices heard, and that they will finally be able to get to know the true face of Israel." She added: “I hope that the brave move of the UAE and its leaders will be an opening for more agreements. Peace is our solution and goal for a better future and world.” (Photo: Facebook)

TOMORROW

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TOMORROW

Norah Alawadhi

UAE social media influencer

Last October, Norah Alawadhi was one half of a photograph that went viral. The image showed Emirati social media influencer Alawadhi holding hands with Israeli Ronny Gonen, both women draped in their country’s flags. The location of the photo was the 80th floor of a skyscraper in Dubai with fragile railings that left both women “scared because we were standing on something that was moving,” Alawadhi recalled a few months later. The photograph was taken after she had spent a day showing Gonen around Dubai: she said she had never had an encounter with Israelis or a Jewish person before. A program manager in risk management in the banking sector, Alawadhi is passionate about peace with Israel, declaring, “We want to make this peace between the people.” (Photo: Viral Image, courtesy)

TOMORROW

86 .

TOMORROW

Rafaella Gunz

Journalist

Rafaella Gunz — a journalist focusing on LGBT and feminist issues — was studying at the CUNY School of Law in 2020 when she became a target of pro-Palestinian groups, particularly Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), as a result of her criticism of their attitudes toward Jews and Israel. Gunz subsequently dropped out of CUNY, writing that her experience “compelled me to purchase a small, rose-gold Star of David necklace... I am no longer ashamed to let the world know I am a Jew.” Gunz has continued to combat antisemitism, writing about her recent experience of hosting an LGBTQ+ Jews room on newly minted social media platform Clubhouse in advance of Pride 2021. Gunz went on to discover that antisemitism was rife on Clubhouse; she pledged that anti-Jewish bigotry would not silence the platform’s Jewish users. (Photo: courtesy)

TOMORROW

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TOMORROW

Yousef Haddad

Activist

A Christian Arab citizen of Israel who was born in Haifa, Yousef Haddad made history when he volunteered for the Israeli Army at the age of 18. He was accepted into the elite Golani brigade. where he served and completed a commander’s course, receiving an award for excellence. During the 2006 war between the IDF and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Haddad was badly wounded by shards from an exploding missile, losing his leg and sustaining multiple wounds all over his body and face. Now 33, Haddad has undergone a major recovery in Israeli hospitals, and is even able to play soccer again. As a result, Haddad founded “Vouch for Each Other,” an NGO dedicated to showcasing what he calls “the beautiful sides of the State of Israel and the true situation of Israeli-Arabs.” His aim is be the “catalyst of change, bridging between the Arab sector of Israeli society with Israeli society as whole.” (Photo: courtesy)

TOMORROW

88 .

VOICES

Cynthia Ozick

Writer

The celebrated American Jewish novelist, writer and essayist Cynthia Ozick delighted readers once again in 2021 with the publication of her latest novel, Antiquities, a parable in the style of Kafka that delves into antisemitism in American life. “Some readers might forget that Ozick, who just turned 93, has a darting, impudent wit,” wrote the New York Times in a glowing review. “Antiquities is a reminder.” The Bronx-born Ozick is a recipient of a Lannan Literary Award for fiction and a National Book Critics Circle winner for essays. She is the author of Trust, The Messiah of Stockholm, The Shawl, and The Puttermesser Papers, and many other titles. (Photo: The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives)

VOICES

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VOICES

Dara Horn

Novelist and educator

Dara Horn is the author of five novels and one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. Horn’s latest book is a work of non-fiction, however. In People Love Dead Jews – a finalist for the 2021 Kirkus Prize – Horn reflects on subjects as far-flung as the international veneration of Anne Frank and the mythology that Jewish family names were changed at Ellis Island. Throughout, she challenges us to confront the reasons why there might be so much fascination with Jewish deaths, and so little respect for Jewish lives unfolding in the present. Horn has taught Jewish literature at Harvard, Sarah Lawrence College, and Yeshiva University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children. (Photo: Homepage, photo by Michael Priest)

VOICES

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VOICES

Emily Jenkins

Writer

Emily Jenkins is an American writer of children's and adult fiction who writes under the pen-name E. Lockhart. She is known best for the Ruby Oliver quartet, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and We Were Liars. Most recently, Jenkins created the first Jewish character unveiled by DC Comics in 44 years – Whistle, also known as Willow Zimmerman, a New York City activist turned masked superhero who draws inspiration from Jewish teachings. “I had done research on the Jewish history of the Lower East Side for another book, so when DC invited me to create a new Gotham City hero, it felt natural to use some of that research and my own love of the neighborhood to create a new part of Gotham that’s a lot like the LES of the 1980s,” Jenkins explained in a recent interview. (Photo: Author homepage, photo by Heather Weston)

VOICES

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VOICES

Eve Barlow

Writer

Eve Barlow is an LA-based, Scottish freelance music journalist, and former Deputy Editor of the New Musical Express. She currently contributes to New York Magazine, The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Pitchfork, and GQ, among other publications. She was also a Contributing Editor at Q Magazine from 2015 until the magazine’s closure in 2020. In recent years, Eve has become a more active voice on Jewish identity and fighting antisemitism via Twitter and Instagram. As a proud progressive, she tackles the issue from the left—and in doing so, offers a rare critique of the kind of antisemitic vitriol emerging from both sides of the political aisle. (Photo: courtesy)

VOICES

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VOICES

Hen Mazzig

Writer and activist

Describing himself as a Mizrahi Jew, the “son of Amazigh and Iraqi Refugees” who is engaged in “loving myself 10x more than they hate us,” Israeli writer Hen Mazzig is a senior fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute. In August 2020, Mazzig started a viral movement, #JewishPrivilege, with Jews telling personal stories of discrimination and abuse. As a young Israeli, he served in the IDF for almost five years as an openly gay commander. During his service as a lieutenant in the COGAT unit, he worked as an intermediary between the Israeli Defense Forces (the IDF), the Palestinian Authority, the UN, and the many non-governmental organizations that work in the West Bank. (Photo: Twitter)

VOICES

93 .

VOICES

Judy Batalion

Writer

Jewish author Judy Batalion was born and raised in Montreal, where she grew up speaking English, French, Yiddish and Hebrew. She has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vogue, the Forward, Salon and other publications. Batalion’s latest work, The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos, is based on a neglected book she discovered at London’s British Library – a Yiddish-language thriller entitled Freuen in di Ghettos (Women in the Ghettos), about “ghetto girls” who hid revolvers in teddy bears, bribed Nazis with whiskey and pastry, and blew up German supply trains. Her previous book was White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess in Between, published in 2016. She lives in New York with her family. (Photo: courtesy)

VOICES

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VOICES

Liora Rez

Activist

Social media influencer Liora Rez is the executive director of stopantisemitism.org, which exposes bigotry towards Jews across society. In a recent report, Rez’s group awarded failing grades to leading corporations, including Google and Unilever, for their weak response to antisemitism. “Antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem; it’s an American problem. It is up to us to do something about it,” she says. Rez credits her group’s skyrocketing success to adopting a bipartisan approach to fighting antisemitism. Born in Kaunas, Lithuania to Jewish parents, Rez and her family immigrated to America when she was four, settling in Cleveland. In 2013, her social media career took off under the guise “Jewish Chick.” (Photo: Forward)

VOICES

95 .

VOICES

Liza Wiemer

Novelist and educator

Liza Wiemer is the author of the best-selling novel The Assignment, about two non-Jewish teenagers who object to a school assignment that requires them to play the role of Nazis deciding on the extermination of the Jews. Based on a similar controversy that erupted at a school in Oswego, New York, in 2017, The Assignment was described by one reviewer as a “frighteningly realistic portrayal of modern antisemitism in a small-town community that blurs the lines between past and present, fiction and reality.” An award-winning educator with over twenty years of teaching experience and the author of several other books, Weimer lives in Milwaukee, Wisc., with her family. (Photo: courtesy)

VOICES

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VOICES

Loay Alshareef

Saudi Arabian activist

A leading Arab social media influencer and advocate for coexistence with Israel, Loay Alshareef has enjoyed a busy year in the wake of the historic Abraham Accords that brought peace between the Jewish state and the Gulf kingdoms of the UAE and Bahrain. Alshareef’s posts on Instagram and other platforms have shown him at key sites around the Middle East, including on a pilgrimage to Mecca, as well as speaking to leading regional politicians, among them Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. A Saudi national who is said to be close to the Saudi royal family, Alshareef first emerged in 2018 with a Hebrew language message to Israelis claiming they had nothing to fear from a Saudi nuclear weapon. Alshareef also runs the Loya Academy, which offers a number of language courses, including Hebrew. (Photo: Personal Instagram)

VOICES

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VOICES

Mark Gerson

Entrepreneur and philanthropist

An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Mark Gerson is the co-founder of Gerson Lehrman Group, African Mission Healthcare, and United Hatzalah of Israel. A graduate of Williams College and Yale Law School, he is the author of books on intellectual history and education and writes a weekly Torah column for the Christian Broadcasting Network. He also hosts the popular podcast The Rabbi’s Husband, and recently launched Torah Academy, an online resource for channeling the Torah’s practical insight and wisdom to live a happier, more successful life. His latest book on the Passover Haggadah, The Telling, was praised by one critic as “the perfect introduction for those desiring to explore this aspect of Jewish life.” (Photo: Personal Twitter)

VOICES

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VOICES

New York Times journalist Nellie Bowles was raised Greek Orthodox and Episcopalian, but is in the process of converting to Judaism. She writes a weekly blog, “Chosen by Choice,” to enable her readers to deepen their understanding of Judaism. “Maybe you were raised Christian like me but now are now starting toward living a Jewish life,” says Bowles, who is planning to marry her partner, a Jewish woman. “Maybe you’re Jewish and hoping to convert your husband or wife and looking for tips. Maybe you think religion or changing your religion or non-Orthodox Judaism or lesbianism is all crazy and want to know just how exactly a crazy person thinks. I’m here for all these readers and more.” (Photo: Personal homepage)

VOICES

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VOICES

Dr. Sheila Nazarian is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with a private practice in Beverly Hills. She founded the Nazarian Institute where she helps medical professionals develop their business skills by Thinking BIG – Branding, Innovation, Growth. Nazarian stars in the Emmy-nominated Netflix original series Skin Decision: Before and After. Nazarian is an important influencer on social media, talking about Jewish identity and combating antisemitism. Nazarian recently took issue with her local community college, San Diego Community College, for passing a hardline anti-Israel resolution. “This normalization of hatred has no place on American college campuses,” she stated. “SDCC can and must take a stand with Jewish students by condemning this unfounded anti-Israel resolution.” (Photo: business homepage)

VOICES

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VOICES

Wisam Al-Hardan

Muslim leader

Wisam al-Hardan is the leader of the Sunni movement known as the “Sons of Iraq,” which aligned with the US military in Western Iraq against al Qaeda in 2008. Al-Hardan was among more than 300 leaders of Iraqi civil society who gathered in the Kurdish city of Erbil, in northern Iraq, in September to advocate for peace with Israel. “In striving to rebuild Iraq, we must reconnect with the whole of our diaspora, including the Iraqi Jews,” al-Hardan wrote in the Wall Street Journal following the conference. “We reject the hypocrisy in some quarters of Iraq that speaks kindly of Iraqi Jews while denigrating their Israeli citizenship and the Jewish state, which granted them asylum.” Along with several other participants, Al-Hardan was the subject of an Iraqi government arrest warrant following the conference. (Photo: Center for Peace Communications)

VOICES

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