Wednesday, June 7th | 18 Sivan 5783


The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2022

In honor of The Algemeiner’s 50th anniversary gala, we are delighted to unveil our ninth ‘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 many Jewish communities have seen significant and rising challenges over the past year, specifically the Jewish community in war-torn Ukraine. Our unique role as a newspaper, to highlight the most vulnerable in our community and advocate on their behalf, has never been clearer. This year has affirmed for us our shared long-held belief that journalism 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 assisting Ukraine’s Jewish community. 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 .


Avi Zinger


Avi Zinger, the Israeli manufacturer and distributor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, won a major legal victory against the so-called “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement targeting Israel in 2022. As a result of an agreement reached in June between Zinger and Unilever, the ice cream brand’s parent company, Ben & Jerry’s will continue to be sold in Israel and the West Bank following a year of legal battling over a settlement boycott. A philanthropist who has funded initiatives to bring Jews and Arabs closer together, Zinger rejected the Ben & Jerry’s boycott because “I refuse to discriminate, and I strongly believe that boycotts are not the path to peace in the Middle East.” Once the deal was in place, Zinger spoke of a “wonderful feeling.” He said he had gathered his workers together to tell them the news and the delight on their faces “made it all worthwhile.” (Photo: Facebook video screenshot)


2 .


Boaz Levy

President and CEO of Israel Aircraft Industries

Boaz Levy is the president and CEO of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), a position he has held since November 2020. Levy has over thirty years of proven experience in the field of air defense missile systems and missiles, fifteen of which were spent managing major system projects. In 2022, Levy engaged in historic outreach when he showcased IAI’s achievements at the Bahrain International Airshow. “There are several opportunities to work together, share our knowledge, and develop new defense and civilian solutions with our partners in the Gulf region, and together, to create a brighter and safer future for our region,” Levy remarked. He noted that IAI had developed the first system capable of neutralizing an incoming ballistic missile, one of several systems designed to counter a new range of security threats. (Photo: Israel Aircraft Industries)


3 .


Ilan Greenfield

CEO of Gefen Publishing House

Ilan Greenfield was born in Israel, studied in Tel Aviv, and joined the IDF for three years as a medic in the paratroopers. Following his military service, he studied in Fullerton College and became a Zionist activist on campus in California. He joined TELEM as treasurer 1980-1982. Returning to Israel in 1982, Ilan joined his family publishing company, Gefen Publishing House, consequently rising to the position of CEO. In April 2022, Greenfield visited Washington, DC, where he presented the Ambassador of Croatia, Pjer Šimunović, with a copy of “And Every Single One Was Someone” – a 1,250-page volume that contains the word “Jew” six million times in memory of the victims of the Nazi Holocaust. (Photo: Gefen Publishing / Facebook)


4 .


Lachlan Murdoch

Executive Chairman and CEO of Fox Corporation

In the dynastic battle that is the Murdoch media empire, Lachlan Murdoch – eldest son of the News Corp company’s founder, Rupert – is predicted by informed pundits to be his father’s likely heir, as a result of the elder Murdoch’s desire to reunite News Corp with the Fox Corporation, parent company of Fox News. Such a merger would likely see a significant expansion of Lachlan’s responsibilities. Politically, he is likely to maintain a continuity with his father’s conservative views, recently defending Fox News against claims that its programming is too divisive. "I think the world is more divided and on edge than it has been, you know, for a very long time," Murdoch said in recent interview. "I think on the noise around it, so much of it is politicized, and so you've got to be tough about it." (Photo: courtesy)


5 .


Peter Limbourg

Broadcasting Director of Deutsche Welle

When a scandal involving antisemitic social media posts by several of its Arabic-language journalists struck German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) in late 2021, its director, Peter Limbourg, moved to act decisively. Two months later, the journalists were terminated following an internal investigation. “The mere suspicion that there is antisemitism in a German taxpayer-financed institution must be unbearable for Jews in this country and worldwide,” Limbourg said afterwards. “We have to make our position much clearer in the future. Freedom of expression is never a justification for antisemitism, hatred of Israel and denial of the Holocaust.” In a separate blow to antisemitic agitation in the Arabic media, Limbourg also severed ties between DW and Roya TV, a broadcaster in Jordan, over the latter’s inclusion of virulently antisemitic images and slogans in its social media feeds. In Sept. 2022, Limbourg oversaw the introduction of a new code of conduct for DW journalists which requires them to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)


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