Sunday, March 26th | 4 Nisan 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 .


Alyza Lewin

President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center

Alyza Lewin is the President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (“LDB”), a non-profit organization established to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. The Brandeis Center conducts research, education and legal advocacy to combat the resurgence of antisemitism on college and university campuses. In 2022, she led the litigation team that represented Avi Zinger, the Israeli licensee of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, in the lawsuit that Mr. Zinger filed against Unilever to prevent Ben & Jerry’s boycott of Israel. Lewin negotiated a successful resolution to that matter, enabling Zinger to retain the right in perpetuity to sell Ben & Jerry’s ice cream everywhere in Israel and the territories using Hebrew and Arabic logos. She began her law career in Israel where she clerked on the Supreme Court for Deputy President Justice Menachem Elon. In 2020, Lewin was awarded with the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (AAJLJ) distinguished Pursuit of Justice Award. (Photo: Israel Hayom)


2 .


Arsen Ostrovsky

CEO of The International Legal Forum

Arsen Ostrovsky is a leading human rights attorney and CEO of The International Legal Forum (ILF), an Israel-based NGO with a global network of over 4,000 lawyers and activists, standing up for Israel and leading the fight against Antisemitism, BDS and terror in the international legal arena.

ILF has been at the forefront of some of the most significant legal battles for Israel this past year, including successfully taking on Ben & Jerry's, Amnesty and the hypocrisy and lies of the United Nations. In a landmark case, ILF has just filed the first civil rights legal claim against UC Berkeley, following their unprecedented attempt to exclude Jewish and Zionist students from campus activities.

As one of the most prominent voices in the pro-Israel community and experts on international law, Arsen regularly addresses the UN Human Rights Council, and speaks before parliaments across Europe and audiences in North America. He also has a digital media reach in the millions of users on Twitter alone. In 2018, Arsen was awarded the Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion prize for his ‘Israel Advocacy’. (Photo: courtesy)


3 .


Dani Dayan

Chairman of Yad Vashem

A former Israeli Consul-General in New York, Dani Dayan is the chairperson of Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the Holocaust. In an interview with The Algemeiner shortly after taking up the post, Dayan identified “two different problems, trivialization and distortion of the Holocaust” that were impacting the Jewish community today. “The nature of today’s distortion is to recognize that the Holocaust occurred, but to say as well, ‘my fellow countrymen were okay,’” Dayan observed. “We hear this from the Poles, from the Ukrainians, the French, the Dutch — but they were not okay. This is the kind of distortion that we are determined to combat.” Born in Argentina, Dayan hails from a Ukrainian Jewish family that emigrated during the 1920s. (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky / Yad Vashem)


4 .


Claudio Luiz Lottenberg

President of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation

Claudio Lottenberg, an ophthalmologist by training, is the president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the main organization representing the Jewish community in Brazil. Lottenberg has also served as a vice president of the World Jewish Congress and as a special advisor to that organization’s president. During a politically turbulent 2022 in Brazil, which saw former far left President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeat the present far right incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, Lottenberg counseled caution. “President Lula, we wish you great success in your four-year term,” he said after the result was announced. “At the same time, we reiterate our permanent availability for constructive and democratic dialogue." (Photo: Brazil Journal)


5 .


Eric Cohen

Executive Director of the Tikvah Fund

Eric Cohen is the Executive Director of the Tikvah Fund, a non-profit ideas institution committed to supporting the intellectual, religious, and political leaders of the Jewish people and the Jewish State. He was the founder and remains editor-at-large of the New Atlantis, and he serves as the publisher of the Jewish Review of Books and Mosaic. He was previously managing editor of the Public Interest and served as a senior consultant to the President’s Council on Bioethics. Cohen currently serves on the board of directors of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Witherspoon Institute, National Affairs, and on the Editorial Advisory Board of First Things. (Photo: Tikvah Fund)


6 .


Gil Hoffman

Executive Director of Honest Reporting

The former chief political correspondent of The Jerusalem Post, Gil Hoffman was appointed as Executive Director of Honest Reporting – an Israel-based NGO combating media disinformation about Israel and Zionism – in May 2022. Hoffman was born and educated in the US, graduating magna cum laude from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. He brings to Honest Reporting nearly 25 years of experience as the leading English language political journalist in Israel. “Strong democracies rely upon a sound press, and I believe my experience will help Honest Reporting assist journalists, as well as help people to better understand how to critically read the news as it relates to Israel,” Hoffman said upon taking up the post. (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem)


7 .


Howard Kohr and Betsy Korn

CEO and President of AIPAC

The CEO and President, respectively, of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – the main lobbying group for Israel in Washington, DC – Howard Kohr and Betsy Korn have been busy shoring up support for Israel in an increasingly fragmented American political scene. “This is no moment for the pro-Israel movement to become selective about its friends,” they wrote in a letter to supporters in March 2022. “The one thing that guarantees Israel’s ability to defend itself is the enduring support of the United States. When we launched our political action committee last year, we decided that we would base decisions about political contributions on only one thing: whether a political candidate supports the US-Israel relationship.” (Photo: courtesy AIPAC and Reuters)


8 .


Ted Deutch

Lawyer and Former Congressman

Ted Deutch, a lifelong Jewish and pro-Israel activist, assumed the role of CEO of American Jewish Committee (AJC) on October 1, 2022. He joined AJC following more than 12 years as a Democrat in the US Congress representing Broward and Palm Beach Counties in Florida. In Congress, Deutch served as chair of the House Ethics Committee, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, and a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on which he served as chair of the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism Subcommittee. He collaborated closely with members on both sides of the aisle to advance the security interests of the United States, Israel, and their allies, authoring legislation advancing US-Israel cooperation in energy, agriculture, technology and trade, and fighting back against efforts to delegitimize Israel at the United Nations. One of his goals at AJC is to enable “high school kids all across the country to be able to participate in advocacy training which will make them stronger advocates... That’s now an ongoing focus of AJC.” (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons License)


9 .


Moshe Hauer

Rabbi and Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union

Rabbi Moshe Hauer joined the Orthodox Union (OU) as its Executive Vice President on May 1, 2020. In this role he serves as the organization’s rabbinic leader, heading its communal-oriented efforts and serving as its professional religious/policy leader and primary spokesman. Prior to joining the OU, Rabbi Hauer served as the senior Rabbi of the Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation in Baltimore, MD for 26 years, where he was active in local communal leadership. Rabbi Hauer is an active teacher of Torah who led a leadership training program for rabbis and communal leader and was a founding editor of the online journal Klal Perspectives. Rabbi Hauer received his rabbinic ordination and doctor of Talmudic law from Ner Israel. He received his Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University. (Photo: Baltimore Jewish Times)


10 .


"My heart was just really, really just struggling to watch this situation unfold: Another Jewish institution and specifically a synagogue that's being attacked," said Rabbi Daniel Septimus, the CEO of Shalom Austin, after an Islamist assailant took a rabbi and three worshipers hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas on January 15, 2022. Police killed the armed hostage-taker at the scene with no other casualties, but the incident left a traumatic legacy for the community. "It just resurfaces that antisemitism is only on the rise in the United States and around the globe," Septimus told NBC. "I think for us, it's how we constantly respond to it proactively and reactively and how we as a community come together with other communities outside the Jewish community to stand in solidarity, to fight against it." (Photo: Shalom Austin)


11 .


Israel Tapoohi

President and CEO of Birthright Israel Foundation

Israel “Izzy” Tapoohi is the president and CEO of Birthright Israel Foundation, the non-profit housing the organization that sends young Jews on free trips to Israel. An Australian who emigrated to Israel with his family in 1979, Tapoohi has spent the last six years working for Birthright. He has held a number of key advisory positions, including two stints working for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a recent podcast, Tapoohi reflected that his duty at Birthright is to “help and assist the Jewish community outside of Israel to better understand, better love Israel.” (Photo: Youtube screenshot / Mosaico na TV)


12 .


Jillian Segal

President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry

Jillian Segal is the president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ). A professional company director with a legal and regulatory background and private and public sector experience, she has held numerous public positions in Australia, including as chair of the General Sir John Monash Foundation, Australia’s national postgraduate educational scholarship organization, and chair of the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce. In 2022, Segal mobilized against the Australian government’s decision to backtrack on its commitment to moving its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Arguing that the decision had been driven by media pressure, Segal emphasized that “the status of Jerusalem is an important foreign policy issue, and it is demeaning for Australia to have its international position changed in such a shoddy manner.”
(Photo: World Jewish Congress)


13 .


Julie Platt

Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America

In June 2022, Julie Platt was unanimously confirmed as the incoming Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America, becoming only the second woman to hold the position. Among the many areas she will focus on are Jewish communal security, investing in the lay and professional talent pipelines across the Federation system, including the role of women in leadership, and continuing to strengthen Jewish Federations as an innovative platform focused on building flourishing Jewish life in North America and around the world. “As community leaders, parents of five children and now grandparents of six, there is nothing more important to my husband and me than the responsibility to build a Jewish home that is vibrant, safe, warm and welcoming and that serves as a model for the next generation,” said Platt, a veteran supporter of several Jewish communal organizations, upon her appointment. (Photo: Jewish Federation of Greater Portland)


14 .


Sammy Ghozlan

President of National Vigilance Bureau for Countering Antisemitism

At the age of 77, former Paris police officer Sammy Ghozlan remains at the helm of the National Vigilance Bureau for Countering Antisemitism (BNVCA), a non-profit organization assisting French Jewish victims of antisemitism. Ghozlan has been a trenchant critic of what he regards as the reluctance of the French authorities to take action against antisemitic crime, despite a yearly increase in France. Always attentive to the disproportionate involvement of French Muslims in antisemitic outrages, in January 2022 Ghozlan called on the French government to abandon plans to grant political asylum to two Moroccan social media activists who trafficked in antisemitism. “It is inconceivable and unacceptable that influencers who advocate hatred and join the antisemitic movement benefit from the right of asylum in France,” he declared. (Photo: Youtube screenshot)


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