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 .


Adam Bellow

Executive Editor

Adam Bellow is the executive editor of Bombardier Books. The son of celebrated novelist Saul Bellow, Adam is a 1980 graduate of Princeton University. Frequently profiled and interviewed on trends in conservative publishing, his essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, New York Magazine, National Review, Talk, LA Times, World Affairs and many other publications. His books include “In Praise of Nepotism: A History of Family Enterprise from King David to George W. Bush (Doubleday 2003) and “New Threats to Freedom” (ed.)(Templeton 2010). Most recently, he is the founder of “Wicked Son,” a publishing imprint focused on books that grapple with big questions, advance unconventional views, and promote greater Jewish engagement with history, culture and ideas. (Photo: Center for Integral Wisdom)


2 .


Bari Weiss

Writer and Podcaster

The editor of “Common Sense” and the host of the “Honestly” podcast, Bari Weiss is practically a household name, admired in the US and around the world for her interventions on rising antisemitism and the growing polarization of our political culture more broadly. From 2017 until 2020, she was a staff writer and editor for the Opinion section of The New York Times, which she joined after a stint at the Wall Street Journal as an opinion editor. She has also served as a senior editor at Tablet, an online magazine of Jewish news, politics, and culture, where she edited political and news coverage. She regularly appears on shows like The View, Morning Joe and Real Time with Bill Maher. Her first book, "How to Fight Antisemitism," was a Natan Notable Book and the winner of a 2019 National Jewish Book Award. Weiss is also a founding trustee of the University of Austin, a new private liberal arts institution “committed to freedom of inquiry.” (Photo:


3 .


Eden Rachel Cohen

Senior Advisor, Office of the Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and the Delegitimization of Israel

Pittsburgh native Eden Rachel Cohen has risen to the forefront of the international battle against antisemitism during the course of 2022. The former entertainment lawyer has been working alongside the Israeli government’s special envoy for countering antisemitism, Noa Tishby, after the pair met through Cohen’s digital newsletter, “A Wider Frame,” which provides news and insight on Jewish communities and Israel. “We’re advancing Israel’s foreign policy as it relates to antisemitism,” she said in an interview earlier this year. She went on to point out that antisemitism manifests principally on social media and can take various forms, from far-right to progressive left. Cohen’s future plans include the launch of a media project in 2023 aimed at educating young teens to understand today’s manifestations of antisemitism in the worlds of culture and entertainment. (Photo: courtesy)


4 .


Emily Schrader

Journalist, Broadcaster, and Influencer

A social media expert and founder of Social Lite Creative, a political marketing consulting firm, Emily Schrader has also established herself as one of the leading voices defending Israel and Zionism online. She writes regularly for Israeli and American outlets and is the host of “Headlines with the Haddads,” a TV show she anchors jointly with Yoseph Haddad. A graduate of Tel Aviv University who still lives in the city, Schrader frequently lectures around the world on topics ranging from Middle Eastern politics to the rise in antisemitism. Her Instagram feed reaches thousands of followers and features campaigning initiatives, such as a recent appeal to Twitter to permanently close down the feed of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s “Supreme Leader.” (Photo:


5 .


Jake Wallis Simons

Journalist, Editor, and Novelist

An award-winning British journalist and novelist, Jake Wallis Simons was appointed as editor of the London-based Jewish Chronicle newspaper in December 2021. He is also a writer for the Spectator magazine, a commentator for Sky News and a broadcaster for BBC Radio 4 and the World Service. Prior to joining the Jewish Chronicle, he worked at the Daily Mail and the Sunday Telegraph. He has worked for the Times, the Guardian, CNN, the BBC and other outlets, reporting from all over Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. He has broken several exclusives, among them the revelation of former UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s links with conspiracy theorists and extremists. (Photo: Twitter)


6 .


Lily Ebert

Holocaust Survivor and Influencer

A 98-year-old grandmother and survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, Lily Ebert became a TikTok star during 2020 when she began making videos to educate the public about the Holocaust. Her account, which her 18-year-old great-grandson Dov Forman helps to run, currently has 1.9 million followers. Ebert’s memoir of her incarceration in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, “Lily’s Promise: Holding on to Hope Through Auschwitz and Beyond―A Story for All Generations”, recounts in riveting detail her childhood in Hungary, the death of her mother and two youngest siblings on their arrival at Auschwitz, and her determination to keep her two other sisters safe. She describes at length the inhumanity of the camp and the small acts of defiance that gave her strength. A resident of London, Ebert was praised by British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis for having “dedicated her life to sharing her astonishing story so that the world would never again descend into such depths.” (Photo: Holocaust Memorial Day Trust)


7 .


Liora Rez

Executive Director of StopAntisemitism.Org

A child refugee from the Soviet Union, Liora Rez launched the activist organization “StopAntisemitism” in October 2018, just three weeks before a white supremacist gunman carried out a horrifying massacre at Pittsburgh’s “Tree of Life” synagogue. Rez remains at the helm of the group, which works to hold antisemites accountable and creates consequences for their bigoted actions by exposing the threat that they present to all Americans. “StopAntisemitism” has become a go-to organization for reporting antisemitic acts because of the real-world results that it garners by activating the millions who follow their social media accounts and receive their weekly mailer which includes the popular "Antisemite of the Week" designation. (Photo: CNN)


8 .


Maria Maaloof

Journalist and Broadcaster

Lebanese Christian journalist Maria Maaloof has lived in political exile in the US since 2021, after she faced charges of treason in her home country for the act of giving an interview to an Israeli broadcaster. A stalwart opponent of the Iranian regime and its Lebanese Shi’a surrogate Hezbollah, Maaloof responded to the treason charges by countering that the damage visited on Lebanon by Israel did not compare to Iran’s record in that regard. Maaloof’s work in journalism has frequently aimed to humanize Israel and Judaism in the eyes of Arab audiences. Among her pieces in 2022 was a feature about Joseph Samuels – an Iraqi Jew born in Baghdad in 1930 – that exposed her viewers to the harrowing story of the expulsion of the Iraqi Jewish community. (Photo: Youtube User Photo)


9 .


Montana Tucker

Musician and Influencer

Montana Tucker is an American singer, songwriter, actress and dancer. Despite being told for many years that she didn’t “look Jewish” or have a Jewish-sounding name, Tucker is dedicated to her Jewish heritage, which she showcases through her influential TikTok channel. In 2022, she took a film crew to Poland to capture the story of her mother’s parents during the Holocaust. Edited into a 10-part docuseries, “How To: Never Forget” has chalked up millions of views on the social media platform. “This has been my responsibility to do this, for me and my grandparents and everyone else,” Tucker said of the series. “People are used to seeing my very light-hearted, fun dance videos and me collaborating with a lot of different people,” the 29-year-old added in an interview with Israeli media. “It’s rare for me and my content, and rare for the platform in general, to have a docuseries on the Holocaust.” (Photo: Youtube User Photo)


10 .


Sharon McMahon


Sharon McMahon is a former high school government and law teacher who earned a reputation as “America’s Government Teacher” amidst the historic 2020 election proceedings for her viral efforts on Instagram to educate the general public on political misinformation. For her followers, McMahon represents “sanity, reason, truthiness, facts, in just a sea of yelling and screaming and anger,” as one of them told The Atlantic magazine in 2022. Among the urgent issues McMahon has tackled on her popular podcast is antisemitism. In November, she hosted seminal documentary filmmaker Ken Burns to discuss his latest project on the US and the Nazi Holocaust, noting that “as Americans, we are often at our best when we commit to considering and acting on behalf of our fellow human neighbors.” (Photo: Facebook)


11 .


Ari Mittleman works at the nexus of politics, policymaking and the press in Washington, DC. Proficient in both modern and biblical Hebrew, he has formally studied the language and traditional Jewish texts since kindergarten and travels regularly to Israel. He is the creator of “Profiled Paths,” an online series that spotlights non-Jewish activists and influencers who have taken up the cause of defending Israel. 2022 saw the publication of Mittleman’s book “Paths of the Righteous,” on the same theme, taking as its point of departure King Solomon’s maxim in Proverbs that the “path of the righteous is like the light of dawn; it shines ever brighter until the day is perfect.”


12 .


Eitan Bernath

Chef, Author, and Influencer

Eitan Bernath is a 20-year-old chef, entertainer, author, TV personality, entrepreneur, and activist, best known on social media for his cooking expertise and captivating personality. With three billion annual views from 350 million consumers in 150 countries, he has amassed over seven million followers with hundreds of millions more consumers enveloped in Eitan’s world spanning his slate of television, literary, audio, philanthropy, and partnership endeavors. A native of Teaneck, New Jersey, he was educated at Yavneh Academy and Yeshivat Frisch. He has visited Israel many times, actively promoting its unique cuisine. “I have definitely taken so many of the values that have helped me get here and stay level-headed,” he reflected in an interview. “I definitely can see how young people who get some level of fame can go crazy and become super arrogant.” (Photo:


13 .


Rebecca Soffer

Writer and Co-Founder of Modern Loss

Rebecca Soffer is a co-founder of Modern Loss, a website and global movement offering creative, meaningful and encouraging content and community addressing the long arc of grief. She is also author of “The Modern Loss Handbook: An Interactive Guide to Moving Through Grief and Building Your Resilience,” and co-author of the book “Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief.” When she was 30, her mother Shelby was killed in a car accident, one hour after dropping Rebecca off from a family camping trip to the Adirondacks. Four years later, her father died of a heart attack while on a cruise to the Bahamas. Such tragic losses focused her on helping herself and others to heal from the death of a loved one. Soffer’s other projects include Reboot, an arts and culture non-profit that reimagines and reinforces Jewish thought and traditions through events, exhibitions, recordings, books, films, DIY activity toolkits and apps. (Photo:


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