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The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2017

In honor of The Algemeiner’s 4th annual gala, we are delighted to unveil our latest Algemeiner ‘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 this endeavor. 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 some 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 involved with the creating of the list and who worked hard to put together our J100 Gala.

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! Lists have begun spreading in the Jewish media as well. 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 then 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 had 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 who 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, other for their work at the organizations or nations they head. Some on the J100 are long established stars, others newcomers, whom are up and coming, people to watch.

Like in any dynamic entity and living organism, 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. Firstly, what defines “positive”? What some consider positive, others consider destructive. Jews notoriously disagree on what positive impact means. Fully cognizant of the inherent 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 as 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 having major impact on his 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 hundreds of Jewish communities with rabbis, lay leaders, educators and administrators that are beloved and are transforming their communities. As important as these individuals may be – and they certainly deserve their own list – the J100 does not list these heroes. Instead it focuses on individuals that have global and international impact, and that come from diverse groups – writers, teachers, government officials, organizations. 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 our standards in seeking out the best within and amongst us. We hope you enjoy reviewing and studying this list, and we welcome all your feedback, critique and suggestions to be included next year, in what has become a tradition at our annual gala event. 

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 and some are members of the GJCF Tribute Committee. 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 .

Micah Goodman

Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

One of Israel’s leading contemporary thinkers, Micah Goodman, a professor of medieval philosophy, has turned the country’s intellectual world on its head in the unlikely role of political analyst.

Goodman’s new bestselling book “Catch 67,” a reference to the Six-Day War in 1967, argues that the left has convinced Israelis that they must withdraw from the West Bank to preserve their nation’s Jewish majority; while, conversely, the right has convinced them that this cannot be done without critically endangering Israel’s security.

In effect, the two sides cancel each other out, leaving Israel in a perpetual stalemate.

Most controversially, Goodman says this may not be a bad thing, as it will force Israelis to confront their complex reality.

“There is no solution,” he asserts. “If you’re willing to accept the fact that there is no solution, then you can start dealing with the problem. … I think there is no solution, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot we can do – precisely because there’s no solution.” (Photo credit: Shalom Hartman Institute. Hartman.org.il.)

ACADEMIA

2 .

David Hirsh

Professor, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Among anti-BDS activists, Britain’s David Hirsh particularly stands out for giving a name to one of the most insidious forms of modern antisemitism: the “Livingstone Formulation,” named for frequent practitioner Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London.

The phrase describes a rhetorical sleight of hand in which anti-Israel activists claim they are being attacked in bad faith as a result of their criticism of Israel, then make the antisemitic charge that the attack is “part of a common secret plan to silence such ‘criticism.’”

Founder of the anti-BDS group Engage, Hirsh most recently wrote and narrated the documentary "Whitewash," on antisemitism in the Labour party.

Hirsh’s latest book, "Contemporary Left Antisemitism,” was published in August 2017. (Photo credit: Twitter.)

ACADEMIA

3 .

David N. Myers

President and CEO, Center for Jewish History

Formerly the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA and most recently the author of “Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction,” David N. Myers took the helm earlier this year of New York’s Center for Jewish History.

The Center combines the resources of five separate organizations to represent what Myers calls a “sweeping view of Jewish history” that encompasses all fields and periods of the Jewish people’s ancient narrative.

“I say nothing Jewish-historical should be foreign to the Center,” says Myers. In particular, the Center is in the process of digitizing its resources so they will be easily available to scholars and the general public alike.

While Myers’ views on Israel have recently aroused the ire of some critics, his contributions to the study of Jewish history have been widely lauded. (Photo credit: CJH.org.)

ACADEMIA

4 .

Cary Nelson

Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Cary Nelson, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an affiliated faculty member of the University of Haifa, is one of American academia’s most outspoken opponents of BDS and other racist anti-Israel activity on campus.

Nelson began his anti-boycott campaign with “The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel” in 2015, and followed it up with his latest book "Dreams Deferred: A Concise Guide to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Movement to Boycott Israel.” It constitutes a ferocious indictment of the BDS movement from a liberal-left perspective, providing important background on BDS and refuting its central claims against Israel.

Nelson also blasted a proposed resolution at the Modern Language Association’s 2017 convention that would have supported such a boycott. The resolution, he said, “is not only anti-Israel but, in its unqualified hostility to Israel’s six million Jews, is fundamentally antisemitic.” The resolution was defeated by a wide margin. (Photo credit: Cary-Nelson.org.)

ACADEMIA

5 .

Ilan Troen

Professor, Brandeis University

The Stoll Family chair in Israel Studies at Brandeis University, president of the Association for Israel Studies, and an emeritus professor at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, Ilan Troen is one of the founding fathers of the field of Israel Studies.

Israel Studies seeks to present an objective scholarly approach to Israel and its history, in contrast to the often hostile attitude of conventional Middle East studies.

Through the efforts of Troen and others, a generation of scholars will be trained in a more open-minded and unbiased view of the Jewish state.

Troen states, “We pursue the free and informed inquiry of all aspects of Israeli society, and disseminate our findings in hundreds of institutions across the world. While we hold diverse views on Israeli history, politics and culture, we all uphold a free and unfettered exchange of ideas.” (Photo: Flickr.)

ACADEMIA

6 .

Yaacov Agam

Artist

For decades, Yaacov Agam has been the lone Israeli at the top of the art world. World renowned for his innovative and influential sculpture, he is considered one of the primary founders of “optic” or “kinetic” art, in which optical illusions, variant colors, and malleable structures are employed so that the images and objects change as the viewer moves “through” the piece, seeing it from different angles.

Agam describes his work by saying, “My intention was to create a work of art which would transcend the visible, which cannot be perceived except in stages, with the understanding that it is a partial revelation and not the perpetuation of the existing. My aim is to show what can be seen within the limits of possibility which exists in the midst of coming into being.”

Born in Rishon LeZion, Agam was the son of a pious rabbi who gave him a background in Jewish knowledge, with special attraction to the Kabbalah, which Agam claims has influenced his work. Among his other interests, Agam designs Jewish ritual objects like mezuzahs.

One of his most famous works is the “Fire and Water” fountain in Israel’s Dizengoff Square. Recently removed as the square is renovated, it will be restored to its original place upon completion of the project. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

7 .

Joyce Azria

Fashion designer

Joyce Azria is a true rarity: An Orthodox Jewish fashion maven. Part of a fashion dynasty founded by her father Max, Azria left her father’s company BCBG in 2017 to found “Avec Les Filles: A Story Told by Joyce Azria.”

Azria’s father, a traditional Sephardi Jew, made sure the family had “a lot of spirituality and excitement towards Hashem,” and this only deepened when Azria discovered Chabad in young adulthood.

“Having a strong moral center helps you be a better businesswoman, a better partner, a better wife, a better person,” she says. And as she sometimes tells overeager colleagues, “The world just stops for me on Shabbos.”

Her new fashion line is in keeping with her old BCBG tradition of low-to-medium priced clothing that remains stylish and, like her, it bridges two worlds: “I love creating for an Orthodox person and the world. … There is always something modest in the collection. At all times, there is always something you can pair or make modest.” (Photo credit: LinkedIn.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

8 .

Craig Balsam, David Renzer, Steve Schnur

Music industry executives

Three of the record industry’s top executives, Craig Balsam, David Renzer, and Steve Schnur, have found themselves thrust to the forefront of the fight against BDS, and especially the movement’s unofficial public spokesman, former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters.

Renzer, chairman of Spirit Music Group, and Schnur, music president of Electronic Arts, are co-founders of Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), a group dedicated to fighting anti-Israel actions from within the music and entertainment industries.

“We decided there needed to be a response to the BDS movement, because very few music executives are advocating for Israel,” said Balsam, co-founder of Razor & Tie Entertainment and advisory board member of CCFP. To fight BDS, he continued, CCFP works to support artists being “barraged” by BDS’s often bullying tactics and helps connect them with Israeli artists.

CCFP, he added, also believes in using music to “build bridges,” for instance by supporting programs in Israel that bring Arab and Jewish musicians together. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

9 .

Mayim Bialik

Actress

Star of the massively successful sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Mayim Bialik may be the most famous Orthodox Jew in America.

A four-time Emmy nominee, neuroscientist, and distant relative of Israel’s national poet Haim Nahman Bialik, Mayim Bialik was raised a Reform Jew but drifted toward Orthodoxy as she grew older, ultimately embracing a traditional lifestyle in which she views the Torah as a “handbook for life.” Most famously, this required a specially made dress for the Emmys that conformed to her standards of modesty.

Bialik has also proved an articulate defender of Israel and Judaism, helping to send bulletproof vests to IDF soldiers, participating in ads for BDS target Sodastream, and blasting anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour for her racist statement that feminists cannot be Zionists.

“As a feminist Zionist, I can’t believe I am being asked to choose or even defend my religious, historical and cultural identity,” Bialik wrote. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

10 .

Michel Boujenah

Actor and comedian

“I feel Jewish, French, Tunisian, Zionist and very close to Israel, as well as a supporter of a Palestinian state. In short, one big balagan (mess),” says French-Jewish-Tunisian-Zionist comedian Michel Boujenah, and sadly, that “big balagan” has gotten him in trouble.

In June, the Carthage Festival of Music in Tunisia rescinded its invitation to Boujenah after protests by a BDS group. The decision was promptly denounced by the Tunisian Association for Support of Minorities, which called it an “anti-Jewish action.”

Boujenah is outspoken about his Zionism and strong support for Israel in a country that is often hostile to both. “We Diaspora Jews have no qualms about declaring our admiration for Israel,” he says.

He has also been among those who have brought attention to the antisemitic motive behind the April killing of French Jewish pensioner Sarah Halimi in Paris. Referring to her Islamist murderer, Kobili Trarore, Boujenah said on French TV, “He was crazy. But he was a crazy antisemite. There is no doubt about this question.” (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

11 .

Alon Day

Professional car racer

Israel’s Athlete of the Year for 2016 was a highly unusual choice: A NASCAR driver named Alon Day. A native of Ashdod, Day gave up his dream of being a fighter pilot to race cars and has steadily risen to the top of the sport even though, ironically, it was banned in his native country until 2011.

All of 25 years old, Day scored major wins in NASCAR’s Euro Series and is now the North American branch’s first Jewish professional driver. “Being the first Israeli who is going to race in NASCAR’s highest series is a dream come true,” he said. In his debut race, he placed 13th, which was described as “a surprising result for a rookie in his first race.”

Many now see him as a sign that NASCAR can diversify and create an appeal broader than its core audience of white males. Indeed, one supporter calls him “the standard bearer for American Jews and Israel” in this “quintessentially American sport.” (Photo credit: Facebook.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

12 .

David Draiman

Musician

From cantor to heavy metal star, David Draiman’s journey to becoming frontman of the popular band Disturbed is unusual to say the least.

Draiman attended yeshiva, studied to be a chazzan, has a brother who lives in Israel - where he travels for vacations - and fronted a band that has sold 11 million records. Indeed, he may be the only heavy metal star in the world whose family once hoped he would become a rabbi and says he could probably still lead a High Holiday service if called upon.

Next up for Draiman is an acoustic EP and a new album from “Disturbed.” Though he now lives a secular lifestyle, Draiman is unafraid of asserting his Jewish identity through his music, for instance, by writing a song against Holocaust denial and slamming former Iranian president and noted antisemite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“I never pull any punches,” he says, “and I will never apologize for who I am or where I come from.” (Photo credit: Twitter/ David Draiman.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

13 .

Bob Dylan

Musician

“Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, ‘Are my songs literature?’” Bob Dylan wrote to the Nobel Prize Committee, but by that time the committee had already decided that for him. At the end of 2016, it awarded the 76-year-old legendary singer-songwriter the Nobel Prize for Literature for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

With this award, the former Robert Allen Zimmerman cemented his legacy as one of the greatest Jewish artists of the century, his work encompassing everything from folk to rock 'n' roll to country music to gospel to blues to, most recently, the great American songbook.

Despite being mostly private about his faith and briefly converting to born-again Christianity, Dylan has led a surprisingly Jewish life. He grew up in a tight knit Jewish community in Minnesota, and as one article points out, wore a kippa and tallit at his son’s bar mitzvah at the Western Wall, sang “Hava Nagilah” at a Chabad telethon, and wrote the ferociously pro-Israel “Neighborhood Bully.” He has also peppered his work with biblical references, studied the Talmud, adapted Jewish prayers to songs like “Forever Young,” and even briefly flirted with the JDL.

Reflecting on his long strange trip in his Nobel acceptance speech, Dylan said, “I return once again to Homer, who says, ‘Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story.’” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

14 .

Gal Gadot

Actress

With the massive success of “Wonder Woman,” Gal Gadot may have the distinction of being the single most famous Israeli on the planet. The former IDF combat instructor, who first made her name as Miss Israel before crossing into modeling – once featuring in a “Maxim” photo spread of the girls of the IDF – and then acting, is now a bona fide superstar and feminist icon.

She has also faced the typical discrimination met by Israelis in the public eye, and done so with both defiance and grace. Despite having her films banned in Arab countries and being attacked for her patriotic beliefs, Gadot has not backed down, once famously posting an image on Facebook of her and her daughter praying for IDF soldiers during the 2014 Gaza War.

“I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens,” she wrote. “Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children...We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom!”
(Photo credit: Facebook.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

15 .

Tomer Hemed

Athlete

You know you’ve arrived as a soccer player when someone decides you’re worth four million pounds. That’s precisely what British soccer team Reading was reportedly willing to pay for Israeli striker Tomer Hemed, currently of Brighton.

Hemed’s high price has been hard earned. He started as a teenager in the youth leagues in the early 2000s, got called up to Maccabi Haifa and was tossed between various teams in the Israeli Premier League. In 2011 he went international, playing for Mallorca and then Almeria before ending up at Brighton & Hove Albion. This past year, Hemed played a key role in the club’s ascension to the English Premier League for the first time in history.

At the same time, Hemed is reportedly “a leading figure” in Brighton’s Jewish community, attending synagogue every Friday and lighting candles at a Chanukah ceremony, which he called “an emotional moment for me. … For me to be away from Israel and get a lot of love is very important.”

In March, Hemed displayed his national and religious pride with a Star of David haircut that he showed off on social media. ( Photo credit: Twitter.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

16 .

Ben Platt

Actor

The current proverbial toast of Broadway is unquestionably Ben Platt, who took home the 2017 Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for his nakedly emotional performance in “Dear Evan Hansen.”

The tale of a high schooler with social anxiety disorder who must contend with the suicide of a fellow student, the show picked up its own Tony for Best Musical (winning six in total) and became beloved of audiences for its wrenching but cathartic intensity.

Born to a Jewish family steeped in musical theater, Platt was universally praised for sustaining the show’s emotional rollercoaster while still hitting every note perfectly. TV and Broadway star Neil Patrick Harris simply marveled, “He sings through tears!”

Platt took the opportunity of his Tony acceptance speech to encourage kids to embrace being different. “To all young people watching at home,” he said, “don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody else because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”

Displaying pride in his Jewish heritage during a “Late Night With Seth Meyers” appearance last year, Platt belted out a Hebrew version of the song “Luck Be a Lady,” which he said he learned at Jewish summer camp. (Photo credit: Twitter.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

17 .

Or Sasson

Athlete

Israeli Or Sasson won the bronze medal in judo at the Rio Olympics, but has become famous for his grace under pressure in the face of the worst sportsmanship.

When Sasson soundly defeated Egyptian judoka Islam El Shahaby in a first round bout at the Rio games, El Shahaby broke with tradition and protocol by refusing to shake the Israeli’s hand.

Sasson stood his ground and did not leave the ring, leaving his opponent to slink away to a round of boos from the audience. El Shahaby promptly announced he was quitting judo for good.

Sasson received widespread praise for his dignified response to the snub and went on to win the bronze medal. “My dream came true in front of my eyes,” he said afterward. “I have worked so hard for this. I’ve had so many wins and so many losses and today was my day. I defeated all my fears.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

18 .

Rachel Weisz

Actress

Acclaimed actress Rachel Weisz once described herself as a “Jew in disguise,” openly Jewish but never playing Jewish roles. This changed with her starring role in “Denial,” about the notorious case in which British Holocaust denier David Irving sued Jewish scholar Deborah Lipstadt for libel, effectively putting the Holocaust on trial.

Saying she was raised “culturally” Jewish, Weisz had a strong personal connection to the material, as her parents were refugees from Hitler, with her mother just barely escaping the Nazi leader’s takeover of Austria in 1939.

The film, she says, is not about the Holocaust, however, but about much larger themes: “How we’re now living in this kind of relativist, what they’re now calling post-truth, world, and everything is up for grabs.” Ultimately, she says, “It’s about the insanity of trying to put fact on trial.” (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

19 .

Thom Yorke

Musician

Top British band Radiohead and its frontman Thom Yorke might seem unlikely activists for Israel, but that was effectively what they became in 2017, when the BDS movement made an unsuccessful attempt to bully them into canceling a concert in Tel Aviv.

The boycotters threw everything they had at Radiohead, but the band remained defiant, with Yorke flipping off pro-Palestinian demonstrators at one concert.

As Yorke put it in a “Rolling Stone” interview, “It’s deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw s**t at us in public. It’s deeply disrespectful to assume that we’re either being misinformed or that we’re so retarded we can’t make these decisions ourselves. I thought it was patronizing in the extreme. It’s offensive.”

In the end, the band, which found an enthusiastic fan base in Israel during its early days, treated enraptured Tel Avivians to its longest concert in years to great acclaim. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

ARTS AND CULTURE

20 .

Kfir Damari

Founder, SpaceIL

Israel’s many accomplishments do not include a trip to the Moon - yet. Kfir Damari and his partners hope to change that through their project SpaceIL, Israel’s bid to win the Google Lunar Xprize. The prize of $20 million goes to whichever team can send a robotic probe to the Moon, land it, move it 500 meters, and broadcast information back to Earth.

SpaceIL has already distinguished itself among the contestants, as it was the last to enter but the first to receive funding for their proposal. But Damari sees the competition as more than simply a bid to land on another world.

“We want to land the craft, but the vision is much bigger,” he said. “It is important to us that this is the first Israeli spacecraft and not the last.”

Indeed, the goal of SpaceIL is to foster the future of Israel’s technology industry. Damari says the group’s goal is to get kids “excited about the science and technology behind our spacecraft and the scientific mission it will carry. … I tell kids that it’s their job to build a spacecraft that brings ours back to Israel.” (Photo: Twitter.)

INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

21 .

Joshua Foer

Co-founder, Sefaria

With its endless references, commentaries, and texts buried within texts, traditional Jewish literature is often compared to the Internet. Today, the massive corpus of Jewish texts is merging with the Internet itself through the website Sefaria, the brainchild of bestselling author Joshua Foer.

Author of “Moonwalking With Einstein” and “Atlas Obscura,” Foer co-founded Sefaria with Brett Lockspeiser, with the intention of making everything from the Talmud to the Guide to the Perplexed to Chasidic commentaries available in both the original and translation on a single website.

“We came to this process out of deep frustration that it hasn’t happened yet,” says Foer. “This should have happened 10 years ago.” (Photo credit: Joshua Foer)

INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

22 .

Moshe Friedman

Founder, KamaTech

The Charedi world, with its principles of cloistered study and pious poverty, seems an unlikely source of successful high-tech start-ups. But Moshe Friedman has upended these stereotypes through his organization KamaTech, which works to integrate the Charedi community, especially its nascent entrepreneurs, into Israel’s legendary start-up scene.

Freidman grew up in a Charedi family in Jerusalem. Of course, he studied in yeshiva, but then, “I realized I wanted to explore a little bit, to know new fields and meet new people and go on new adventures. I found out that Israel is the start-up nation, and I said, ‘Why shouldn’t I do that too?’”

The organization he eventually founded, KamaTech, provides funding, advice, connections, and other resources to specifically Charedi start-ups. In 2017, it formed the venture capital fund 12 Angels to sponsor Charedi companies and projects. “Thousands of people wanted to build companies but didn’t have the opportunity because they were outside of the ecosystem,” Friedman says.

And this will not only change the Charedi community, he believes, but Israel and the high-tech world as well. The Charedim, he said, “bring a fresh mind, a fresh perspective, different thinking. Innovation comes from diversity.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

23 .

Willem Griffioen

Co-founder and chairman, Israel Allies Foundation

William Griffioen is the co-founder and chairman of the Israel Allies Foundation, a somewhat unique organization in that it advocates for Israel by directly organizing pro-Israel caucuses in the legislatures of various countries.

The organization was founded by the late Israeli politician and rabbi Benny Elon, who helped establish a “Christian Allies Caucus” in the Knesset, leading to the idea of creating reciprocal organizations in parliaments around the world.

Griffioen, who is Christian, says that organizations like his “support Israel because they want to be part of something that God is doing. People are passionate about issues that are deep in their faith. Support for Israel is something that is deeply connected to our faith. This is an issue that Christians can really identify with.”

The group concentrates on advocating for Israel on such issues as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, combatting boycott attempts, supporting the West Bank settlements, Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, and others. (Photo credit: Israelallies.org.)

INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

24 .

Michael McCann

Founder, Israel-Britain Alliance

A former vice-chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, Michael McCann founded the Israel-Britain Alliance in 2016, a grassroots lobbying effort to advocate for Israel in the UK parliament, an often hostile forum for the Jewish state.

“We will offer clarity on the Israel/Palestinian conflict,” he said. “Complex issues cannot be solved unless all parties are heard in a spirit of mutual respect. My experience tells me that on issues concerning the State of Israel that is not always the case in Britain. The IBA will seek to redress that imbalance.”

Most recently, IBA circulated a petition during the last UK general election that gained the support of 216 candidates. It pledged to fight for Israel’s right to exist, foster economic ties with the Jewish state, and celebrate Israel’s democracy.

“IBA and its partner organizations managed to mobilize thousands of voters, Jewish and non-Jewish to contact their candidates about our Pledge for Israel,” said McCann. (Photo credit: Israelbritain.org.uk.)

INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

25 .

Hillel Neuer

Executive director, UN Watch

The man who “makes the UN tremble,” Hillel Neuer is at the forefront of the battle for democracy and human rights at an institution that often makes a mockery of both.

Neuer is the head of UN Watch, an NGO that through research, reports, and Neuer’s own scathing speeches seeks to counter the hegemony of the dictatorships and human rights abusers that tend to dominate the international body.

In particular, UN Watch is noted for its defense of Israel, which tends to be the object of viciously biased treatment by UN institutions. “When I address the antisemitism and the demonization of Israel, I bring the full passion of that injustice to my speech,” says Neuer.

Most recently, Neuer’s speech at the notoriously anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council went viral, as he confronted the member countries asking, “How many Jews live in your countries? How many Jews lived in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco?” To each nation he asked a simple question: “Where are your Jews?” (Photo credit: UN Watch.)

INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

26 .

Yosef Yarden

Cancer researcher

“Professor Yosef Yarden is among the most important cancer researchers in the world,” the Israel Prize Committee stated when it gave him the 2017 honor in Life Science Research.

Yarden, of the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, works at the highest level of his field, concentrating on immunotherapy approaches to fighting cancer. Specifically, he is studying how to create antibodies that will prevent cancerous growths from being able to reproduce within a patient’s body.

“We started a way to block the growth factors [that enable] collaboration between the tumor and the host,” Yarden stated.

When he received the EMET prize, it was noted that Yarden’s methods “paved the way for a new approach in the development of drugs that have been put into use and saved the lives of many cancer patients.”

Yarden, a symbol of Israel’s prowess in the medical world, is unabashed about the importance of his research. “The future is very much in immunotherapy,” he says. (Photo credit: Israel Cancer Association.)

INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

27 .

Yossi Cohen

Mossad director

No intelligence agency in the world is as revered or as feared as Israel’s Mossad, and its current chief Yossi Cohen is proving to be both in keeping with this reputation and quite different from his predecessors.

Cohen has served in the Mossad for decades, slowly rising through the ranks. After serving as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, he was appointed director of Mossad in 2015. Cohen is the first Mossad chief to be openly religious, a historic shift from the staunch secularism of his predecessors.

Also notable are Cohen’s hawkish views on the threat from Iran, which places him in direct contrast to previous Mossad chiefs, several of whom publicly denounced the prime minister’s aggressive stance on Iran’s nuclear program and sought to thwart a possible military strike.

Cohen has also set up a fund to encourage start-ups in the field of espionage technology and sought to recruit more women into the intelligence service. (Photo credit: Alchetron.)

GOVERNMENT

28 .

Danny Danon

Israeli ambassador to the United Nations

Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon has proven over the last year that Israel can fight and win at the often hostile international body through his election as vice-president of the UN General Assembly.

Appointed UN envoy in 2015, Danon has served in numerous government positions, most prominently during six years as a member of Knesset with stints as deputy minister of defense and minister of science, technology, and space, as well as major roles at the Jewish Agency and the Likud party, where he lost a bid for leadership to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Celebrating victory in his campaign to become vice-president of the UNGA, he tweeted, “We've proven once again that Israel is able to serve in significant positions at the @UN & the attempts to block this progress won't succeed.” (Photo credit: World Likud.)

GOVERNMENT

29 .

Dani Dayan

Consul general of Israel in New York

Israel’s consul general in New York, Dani Dayan, is the settlement movement’s foremost advocate.

Willfully controversial, he was rejected by Brazil when he was appointed ambassador to the country two years ago, but has adapted smoothly to the diplomatic role he plays in the Big Apple, speaking out eloquently on behalf Israel to the American public and winning the hearts and minds of those who don’t necessarily agree with his politics.

An immigrant from Argentina, Dayan began his career as an early high-tech entrepreneur, but cashed out in favor of political activism. For six years, Dayan served the settlers as chairman of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization that represents the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, and as the council’s chief foreign envoy, earning Dayan the nickname of “the settlers’ foreign minister.”

Asked whether former President Obama or the settlers won the political struggle over settlements, Dayan said, “There’s no doubt the Yesha Council won. … I am convinced that at some point in my tenure as chairman, the settlement in Judea and Samaria became irreversible.” (Photo credit: Amir Levy/Flash90.)

GOVERNMENT

30 .

Ron Dermer

Israeli ambassador to the United States

Nicknamed “Bibi’s Brain” by the press, Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer may be Prime Minister Netanyahu’s closest and most trusted adviser.

As Israeli journalist Ari Shavit put it, “Netanyahu is probably the loneliest head of state one can imagine. There are very few people he truly trusts and appreciates, and Ron Dermer is one of them.”

Son of a former mayor of Miami Beach, Dermer made aliyah in the 1990s and entered politics as an aide to Natan Sharansky. After Netanyahu fell from power for the first time in 1999, Dermer met the former and future prime minister and “we hit it off right away.”

Dermer served as one of the architects of Netanyahu’s return to the prime minister’s office in 2009 and eventually became Israel’s ambassador to the US in 2013. As ambassador, Dermer helped manage a major crisis when Netanyahu spoke to Congress in a bid to stop the nuclear deal with Iran.

Now close to the inner circles of the Trump administration, Dermer is poised to be a major power broker in both Israel and America. (Photo credit: Twitter.)

GOVERNMENT

31 .

Gadi Eizenkot

IDF chief of staff

Descriptions of IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot always seem to involve words like modest, straightforward, honest, restrained, and principled.

Born in Tiberias, the 57-year-old Eizenkot rose through the ranks from a commander in the elite Golani paratroops brigade to head of the Northern Command. There, he oversaw the rebuilding of the northern front after the inconclusive 2006 war with Hezbollah. With the Hezbollah danger always in mind, Eizenkot was chosen chief of staff in 2014.

“No one is more worthy of this role than he is at this time," said fellow general Giora Inbar. “Gadi is an honest man, who is not afraid to speak his mind in public, and will always say what he thinks and act according to what he sees as right.”

Eizenkot proved as much in 2017, when he faced down public controversy by commenting on an IDF soldier charged with murdering a neutralized Palestinian terrorist. “An 18-year-old man serving in the army is not ‘everyone’s child,’” he said. “He is a fighter, a soldier, who must dedicate his life to carry out the tasks we give him. We cannot be confused about this.” (Photo credit: IDF.)

GOVERNMENT

32 .

David Friedman

United States ambassador to Israel

Newly-confirmed US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman arrived in Israel in May, 2017 and went straight to the Western Wall. It was appropriate for the contentious and controversial newcomer to diplomacy, whose sincere dedication to Israel is unquestionable.

A former bankruptcy lawyer, Friedman was a Trump confidant for years before being tapped as ambassador role, which is of vital importance in the US-Israel relationship. His appointment stirred up passions in the Jewish community, as many saw him as too right-wing for their tastes and objected to some of his previous statements about left-wing Jews. At his confirmation hearing, Friedman apologized for previous comments and was approved in a relatively close vote.

On his appointment, Friedman also expressed tacit support for moving the US in Israel, which is now located in Tel Aviv, saying he and his team were seeking to “strengthen the bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

GOVERNMENT

33 .

Michael Gove

UK secretary of state for environment, food, and rural affairs

Former British secretary of justice and currently secretary of state for environment, food, and rural affairs, Conservative MP Michael Gove is one of the most passionately pro-Israel politicians in the UK.

In particular, Gove has been a leader in the fight against BDS, saying in 2017, “No other democracy is on the receiving end of a campaign calling for its people to be shunned and their labour to be blacklisted.”

BDS, he asserted, “is antisemitism, impure and simple. It is the latest recrudescence of the age-old demand that the Jew can only live on terms set by others. Once Jews had to live in the ghetto, now they cannot live in their historic home.”

He has also denounced the rise of antisemitism in Britain and pledged to fight it.

Shortly after the election of President Donald Trump, Gove endorsed the idea of moving the British embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem should Trump do the same with the American embassy. (Photo credit: Paul Clarke.)

GOVERNMENT

34 .

Nikki Haley

United States ambassador to the United Nations

Former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley has remade herself over the past year into an unabashed warrior for the Jewish state in the diplomatic realm. As US ambassador to the UN, she has embarked on what is little less than a crusade against the institution’s anti-Israel bias.

“I’m here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore,” she said at a press conference after a Security Council meeting. “I’m here to emphasize the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias.”

Of the notoriously hostile UN Human Rights Council, Haley said, “The United States is looking carefully at this council and our participation in it. … It is essential that this council address its chronic anti-Israel bias if it is to have any credibility.”

For herself, Haley is circumspect about her efforts. “All I did at the United Nations,” she said during a visit to Israel, “was tell the truth.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

GOVERNMENT

35 .

Isaac Herzog

Knesset leader of the opposition

Isaac Herzog may have just lost his position as head of the Labor party, but he remains head of the Knesset opposition and a determined activist for peace. “We have to present a vision of hope to both peoples, to their young generations, to our children and we can do it. We need simply to take bold steps,” he has said.

Indeed, Herzog revealed in June 2017 that negotiations undertaken a year before under Egyptian auspices “yielded a document that would have changed the face of the Middle East,” though political considerations eventually torpedoed the effort.

Herzog is also serving as something of an unofficial ambassador against BDS, which he believes can be defeated through collective action.

“This is the role of the Jewish people. To unite, and work together, to combat outside threats,” he recently told the World Jewish Congress. This can be done “by telling the truth, by confronting the rivals or the enemies for that matter, with the weapon of truth, and presenting the real case for Israel, and explaining the root cause of the conflict and the solutions of the conflict.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

GOVERNMENT

36 .

Sajid Javid

UK secretary of state for communities and local government

Among the more courageous people in the world is the Muslim Zionist. Sure to be reviled by their own community, there are few of them and probably even fewer willing to speak out.

Sajid Javid, a British member of Parliament and communities and local government secretary, is one of the notable exceptions. His support for Israel is full-throated and outspoken.

In one speech celebrating Israel’s Independence Day in May 2017, Javid praised Israel’s start-up economy, its success in making the desert bloom, its resilience in the face of relentless violence, denounced the BDS movement as antisemitic, said Britain should be proud of the Balfour Declaration, and pledged to fight rising antisemitism in England.

So passionate is Javid on the subject that, when an audience member at a 2012 speech remarked that he might run for prime minister, someone asked, “Of Britain or Israel?” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

GOVERNMENT

37 .

Jared Kushner

Senior White House adviser

In a meteoric rise that saw him go from real estate developer to special adviser to the president of the United States, Jared Kushner has made himself one of the most powerful and influential Jews in American history.

Son of a dynasty of wealthy real estate developers, Kushner began in the family business with great success, then turned to newspaper publishing with his purchase of the “New York Observer,” putting the paper in the black after years of red.

Along the way, Ivanka Trump converted to Orthodox Judaism to marry him, making him son-in-law of the soon-to-be most powerful man in the world. During the 2016 campaign, Kushner became one of Donald Trump’s top advisers, a role he continued in the new administration.

With lifelong ties to Israel, Kushner was appointed Trump’s point man on the Middle East peace process. Most recently, he traveled to Israel and multiple Arab countries in preparation for a major diplomatic effort to finally broker what President Trump has called “the ultimate deal” – peace between the Jewish state and its Arabs neighbors. (Photo credit: Twitter.)

GOVERNMENT

38 .

Avigdor Lieberman

Defense minister of Israel

When former foreign minister and head of Israel’s Yisrael Beiteinu party Avigdor Lieberman replaced the highly respected Moshe Yaalon as defense minister in 2016, there was a public uproar, with many believing the famously pugnacious right-winger would be a disaster.

That hasn’t proven to be the case. The usually outspoken Lieberman has mostly kept his mouth shut, and has done little to break from his predecessor's generally moderate if still hawkish policies.

All of this underlines the ambiguity of Lieberman as a public figure. Born in the Soviet Union, the former Likud activist formed the mostly-Russian Yisrael Beiteinu in opposition to the land-for-peace policy, but has since come out in favor of territorial compromise.

Though deeply right-wing, he supports ending the Orthodox monopoly on religious affairs in Israel. He is pro-gay rights and has promoted them in the IDF while defense minister.

Lieberman, in other words, despite decades of ferocious rhetoric, remains a political enigma. (Photo credit: Israeli government.)

GOVERNMENT

39 .

Mauricio Macri

President of Argentina

Since becoming president in December 2015, Mauricio Macri has ushered in a new era in his country’s relationship with its Jewish community – the largest in Latin America – and Israel.

One of his first acts in office was annulling the memorandum of understanding his predecessor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, signed with Iran – an agreement that was widely viewed as an attempt to cover up the role the Tehran regime played in the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing in Buenos Aires.

Macri is a proponent of further investigations into the attack and the unsolved 2015 death of Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor in the AMIA case who many believed was killed due to his effort to bring the truth to light.

In September, Macri welcomed Prime Minister Netanyahu to Argentina on the first-ever visit there by a sitting Israeli prime minister. (Photo credit: Wikipedia.)

GOVERNMENT

40 .

Fulvio Martusciello

Member of the European Parliament

“For me as a non-Jew, Israel is about freedom, is about development and is about an example to our member states on how to make a living and facing existential threats every single day,” says Italian Member of the European Parliament Fulvio Martusciello, who has led the EU Parliament’s delegation for relations with Israel since 2014.

The goal of the delegation is to foster ties with Israel on the parliamentary level, but Martusciello has gone beyond this. In 2017, he added an anti-BDS clause to the EU report on commercial competition, underlining “the need to fight against unfair collective boycotts, defined as a situation in which a group of competitors agree to exclude an actual or potential competitor, as restrictions of competition by object.”

Though the EU is often perceived as hostile to Israel, Martusciello argues it does not have to be this way. “I believe that if we tell people in Europe about the real Israel,” he says, “its image will change and relations with the various countries will improve.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

GOVERNMENT

41 .

Narendra Modi

Prime minister of India

“My visit marks a path-breaking journey of engagement,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his hosts on his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport on July 4, 2017, opening a new era in relations between one of the world’s smallest democracies and its largest one.

For decades, India and Israel had no diplomatic relations, but over the last 25 years, strong economic and military ties have developed between the two nations. Yet it was only with Modi’s visit that these relations finally stepped out into the full light of day.

“Israel is a real friend,” Modi said. “I have really felt that feeling of kinship. I feel absolutely at home here.”

As India’s “Economic Times” put it in a wide-ranging analysis, Modi’s visit “simultaneously redefined India’s external self, and vindicated Israel’s identity. … Banished are the overcautious, hypocritical and domestically poisoned lenses for approaching Israel, and ushered in are bold, dispassionate and objective ways of handling this key West Asian power.”

One manifestation of the closer relationship has been at the UN, where India’s voting pattern has shifted away from being automatically in the anti-Israel camp. Also, more and more business is being done between Israeli and Indian companies and tourism numbers are skyrocketing. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

GOVERNMENT

42 .

Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime minister of Israel

As prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu stands at the forefront of all Israel’s accomplishments and achievements. Netanyahu is now poised to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister in 2018.

Netanyahu’s achievements this year were many. Following an eight-year frosty relationship with former President Obama, Netanyahu met with newly-inaugurated President Trump at the White House in February, then welcomed the president to Israel on his first trip abroad a few months later. Netanyahu cultivated increasingly close ties with Arab states and welcomed India’s prime minister Narendra Modi on a historic visit to Israel. Relations with China and many African nations are also flourishing. At home, the economy remains stable and growing, while Netanyahu’s governing coalition shows little sign of collapse.

During his time as prime minister, Netanyahu’s top priority has been maintaining Israel’s security, particularly against Palestinian terrorism and Iran’s nuclear ambitions and regional aggression. (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

GOVERNMENT

43 .

Michael ‘Mike’ Pence

Vice president of the United States

“On that day, a prophecy literally came to pass,” US Vice President Mike Pence said at a recent ceremony marking Israel’s Independence Day. Pence has shown the sincerity of this sentiment, serving as one of the most publicly pro-Israel members of the new administration.

In particular, the vice president has worked to reassure sometimes skeptical audiences of Trump’s personal dedication to Israel’s cause.

“Under President Donald Trump, let me assure you of this – if the world knows nothing else, the world will know this: America stands with Israel,” he has stated. “Every day in every week, the Jewish people’s dignity rebukes all who would condemn them, not for what they do wrong, but for what they do right.”

In particular, Pence has singled out the Iranian nuclear threat, saying, “The United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. This is our solemn promise to you, to Israel, and to the world.”

Pence has also been a strong advocate of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reassuring pro-Israel audiences that the president continues to consider it a priority despite delaying the move. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

GOVERNMENT

44 .

Charles ‘Chuck’ Schumer

Senate minority leader

“I believe Hashem, actually, gave me my name,” Senator Charles ‘Chuck’ Schumer once told an interviewer, “as one of my roles that is very important in the United States Senate is to be a shomer ['guardian'], a shomer for Israel, and I will continue to be that with every bone in my body.”

Schumer has certainly remained true to his name. While the more extreme elements in the Democratic party have grown hostile to Israel, Schumer has become the de facto leader of his party’s pro-Israel camp. Most notably, he displayed rare political courage when he chose to oppose former President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

The senator has shown no signs of slowing down this year. In June 2017 he publicly called on President Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, saying, “We ought to get it done once and for all,” and co-sponsored an anti-BDS bill in Congress. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

GOVERNMENT

45 .

Donald Trump

President of the United States

In one of the most improbable feats in modern American political history, real estate tycoon and TV personality Donald Trump became president of the United States in 2016.

Despite a few bumps along the road, President Trump has mostly alleviated Jewish concerns over his populist, “America First” rhetoric. In particular, he has proven a stark contrast with his predecessor on Israel, who many saw as indifferent if not hostile to the Jewish state.

Trump is seriously considering moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, promised “Iran will never have nuclear weapons,” and became the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall when he came to Israel in May.

During his trip, Trump stated that Israel had “built one of the great civilizations: a strong, resilient, determined nation …forged in the commitment that we can never allow the horrors and atrocities of the last century to be repeated.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

GOVERNMENT

46 .

Ivanka Trump

Senior White House adviser

Perhaps the most famous and certainly the most powerful Jewish convert in the world, Ivanka Trump is both the “first daughter” and one of her father’s closest and most trusted advisers.

A formidable businesswoman in her own right, Trump ran a successful jewelry company, then took a position in her father’s company and started her own fashion line before her father’s run for president catapulted her to the heights of American politics.

Trump converted to Orthodox Judaism before she married Jared Kushner, now also a senior adviser to the president. She tends to remain private about her faith, but has said, “We’re pretty observant, more than some, less than others. I just feel like it's such an intimate thing for us. It’s been such a great life decision for me.”

During her father’s official visit to Israel in May, Trump was photographed praying at the Western Wall, where she reportedly wept. “I am grateful to have experienced a deeply meaningful visit to the holiest site of my faith and to leave a private note of prayer,” she tweeted afterwards.

Before last November’s election, Trump vowed to be an advocate for women and Israel. She also promised her father would be “an unbelievable champion for Israel and for the Jewish people. You will not be disappointed.”

Asked what she cherished most about Judaism, Trump said, “Especially now being a parent, I deeply appreciate how it feels like everything about Judaism is architected to create connectivity and to create a grounding in what really matters.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

GOVERNMENT

47 .

Malcolm Turnbull

Prime minister of Australia

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has not been shy about publicly backing Israel during his time in office.

Following the passage last December of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which deemed Israeli settlements to be illegal, Turnbull stated, “My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel of the kind recently adopted by the Security Council and we ­deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

Standing alongside Prime Minister Netanyahu in Sydney in February, Turnbull said of Australia-Israel ties, “We have so much in common – shared values, democracy, freedom, the rule of law. Two great democracies, one very small in area, one vast, but each of us big-hearted, generous, committed to freedom.”

GOVERNMENT

48 .

Miloš Zeman

President of the Czech Republic

When recent UNESCO resolutions denied Israel and the Jewish people’s connection to Jerusalem and its holy sites, few bothered to condemn it – one of the exceptions was the Czech Republic, whose parliament unequivocally denounced the resolutions and officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Presiding over this extraordinary display of political courage was Miloš Zeman, president of the Czech Republic, who promptly sent a warm message to the Israeli embassy to mark Jerusalem Day, which celebrates the reunification of the city in 1967.

Referencing Czechoslovakia’s supply of arms to Israel in 1948, Zeman said, “It was the Czechoslovak Republic that gave the helping hand to Israel in the difficult times. And in exchange, Israel with its vitality and pride encourages us in Europe where we face the evil of terrorism.”

Zeman also expressed his belief that Israel must be supported “in the situation when the poisonous shoots of antisemitism once again started to take root on the European continent.” (Photo credit: Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces of the Czech Republic)

GOVERNMENT

49 .

Ziv Aviram and Amnon Shashua

Founders, Mobileye

In the biggest such deal in Israel’s history, the vehicle technology company Mobileye was bought by Intel for $15.3 billion in March 2017. The primary beneficiaries were CEO Ziv Aviram and founder and chairman Amnon Shashua, two prime exemplars of Israel’s global reputation as a “start-up nation.”

Mobileye uses almost impossibly sophisticated imaging and sensor technology to create what are essentially driverless vehicles, able to stay on course, avoid collisions, and warn passengers of potential problems. Intel considers the technology essential to its future growth as vehicles “progress from assisted driving to fully autonomous.”

According to Shashua, however, his and Aviram’s motives are loftier. “What we want to is to change the world,” he said. “And the tie-up with Intel ensures this.” (Photo credit: Twitter).

BUSINESS

50 .

Warren Buffett

Investor

The second richest man in the world, Warren Buffett is not one of the tribe, but he might have the best chance of becoming an honorary member.

“Proportionally, if you look at the number of Jews in this country and in the world, I’m associated with a hugely disproportionate number,” he said, noting that he has been “blessed by friendship with many Jews.”

Indeed, years ago Buffett joined a Jewish country club to protest against antisemitic discrimination.

The billionaire has also shown a strong interest in the Israeli business sector, saying, “If you are looking for brains, energy and dynamism in the Middle East, Israel is the only place you need to go.”

In 2017, Buffett launched a personal recruiting effort to encourage buying Israel Bonds, calling it “a sound investment and a deserved endorsement of a remarkable country.” (Photo credit: Stacie Kinney.)

BUSINESS

51 .

Sheryl Sandberg

Chief operating officer, Facebook

Sheryl Sandberg, the Jewish COO of Facebook and author of “Lean In,” a manifesto that calls on working women not to abandon their dreams and ambitions, has become something of a feminist icon, proof that women can indeed “have it all.”

In 2015, however, her life was touched by tragedy when her husband suddenly died on a family trip. After the traditional Jewish mourning period was over, she published a lengthy post on Facebook describing and wrestling with her grief. The response was massive, with over 74,000 comments, many from people describing their own experiences with loss. “After that, I didn’t feel alone anymore,” Sandberg says.

Sandberg, who often talks about her Judaism, channeled all of this into her new book “Option B,” describing her experience and examining how others deal with such wrenching experiences. She credits the social network she runs with helping her through it all. “My friends told me when people passed away that Facebook became more important to them, but experiencing it myself was a totally different thing. What we do here really matters to me and I think matters even more,” she said. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.) 

BUSINESS

52 .

David Hatchwell Altaras

President of Madrid's Jewish community

For well-known and infamous historical reasons, Spain’s Jewish community is a decidedly small one, yet it has produced one of the most dynamic Jewish leaders in Europe. David Hatchwell Altaras is president of the Jewish community in Madrid and has served in numerous Jewish organizations over the years, including Birthright, the Genesis Prize, and the Maccabi World Union, and has shown a strong interest in relations between Israel and China.

Altaras has also been involved in combating antisemitism and the BDS movement, most notably ensuring that Jewish rapper Matisyahu could perform at a Spanish music festival despite racist attempts at canceling his show over his support for Israel. Of his outsized influence,
Altaras says, “It doesn’t matter how big or small you are; it’s all about your attitude.”

Asked about his understanding of Judaism,
Altaras simply replied, “Judaism is Faith, Commitment and Free Will at once.” (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

COMMUNITY

53 .

Sandra Arroyo Salgado

Judge, ex-wife of Alberto Nisman

Sandra Arroyo Salgado has become the keeper of the flame for her ex-husband, the late Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman. Chief investigator of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, which killed 85 people, Nisman fingered Iran as the culprit and accused then-President Christina Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman of colluding with the Islamic republic.

The night before he was due to testify before congress on the matter, Nisman was found shot to death in his apartment. The incident was almost instantly ruled a suicide, which nearly no one believed, and it is now widely assumed that he was murdered. By who remains an open question.

Arroyo Salgado, herself a federal judge, has led something of a one-woman campaign to find the answer. She continues to insist in both domestic and foreign media that her ex-husband was murdered and the Argentinean government is covering up the crime. In 2017, she went so far as to meet with the pope, who expressed support for her efforts. (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

COMMUNITY

54 .

David Brog

Executive director, Maccabee Task Force

As founding director of Christians United for Israel and executive director of the Maccabee Task Force, David Brog has been fighting for Israel and mobilizing its supporters, Jewish and non-Jewish, for decades. This year he took on a new challenge: fighting anti-Israel bias and racism on college campuses.

Among his contributions to the cause is his new book “Reclaiming Israel’s History: Roots, Rights, and the Struggle for Peace,” which seeks to refute the anti-Israel propaganda, lies, and defamation rife on campuses today.

“Through my work with CUFI and the Maccabee Task Force, I’ve been educating college-age students and young people about the conflict for years,” Brog says. “What I learned years ago was that most kids, Jewish and Christian, have very little knowledge of the real history.”

His book sets out this history and gives students the “knowledge to be able to win the hearts and minds of students who are being inundated by lies taught in classrooms.” (Photo credit: Maxine Dovere.)

COMMUNITY

55 .

Stuart & Robbi Force

Activists

Out of their grief, Stuart and Robbi Force have forged a crusade against one of the nastiest practices of the Palestinian Authority: the payment of blood money to terrorists and their families.

“Like the American public, we were not educated until something happened,” says Robbi Force. That something was the brutal 2016 murder of their son Taylor by a Palestinian terrorist while on a trip to Israel.

Taylor, a West Point graduate and veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq who was 28 at the time of his death, is the namesake of the Taylor Force Act, a bill now making its way through the Senate that would cut funding to the Palestinian Authority until it ceases paying salaries to terrorists and their families.

Stuart Force says he and his wife’s campaign for the bill “does help us focus, rather than just walking around the house looking at the pictures – ‘I remember when we did this. I remember when we did that.’”

In August 2017, the bill passed a critical committee vote and is now set to go before the full Senate. (Photo credit: Facebook).

COMMUNITY

56 .

Gilles-William Goldnadel

Founder and chairman, Lawyers Without Borders

A prominent French-Jewish lawyer and writer who is now representing the family of murdered pensioner Sarah Halimi, Gilles-William Goldnadel is one of the most outspoken supporters of Israel and opponents of antisemitism in France.

Founder and chairman of the group Lawyers Without Borders, which fights discrimination and advocates for human rights, and head of the Association France-Israel, Goldnadel has angered both left and right, and even the French Jewish establishment itself, through his oft-controversial opinions and activism.

In particular, Goldnadel agitates against what he has called "Islamo-Nazism" and "Islamo-Leftism,” which he regards as the foremost antisemitic danger to the Jews of France. As a result, he has often criticized mainstream Jewish organizations, especially the umbrella group CRIF, of which he was once a member, of indulging Muslim and leftist antisemites.

For all of this, Goldnadel has branded himself a “combat Jew,” a reputation he continues to live up to. (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

COMMUNITY

57 .

Pinchas Goldschmidt

President, Conference of European Rabbis

The president of the Conference of European Rabbis and chief rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt has the unenviable task of dealing with the Jewish community on a continent in crisis.

First, there is the danger posed by secular forces who want to ban religious rituals like traditional kosher slaughter.

Then there is the rise of populist and nationalist forces. As Goldschmidt says, “Jews always felt more comfortable in places where other cultures and religions were respected. At the moment when an ultra-nationalist wind begins to blow, it makes Jews, as a minority, uncomfortable.”

Finally, there is the ever-growing threat of radical Islam, which the rabbi hopes can be combated by religious understanding. “We are the last ones to say it is not a problem,” he states. “But what we are saying is that you don’t counter and fight Islamic terrorism by fighting Islam. It’s extremely important to mark a red line between normative Islam and radicalism and terrorism using the name of Islam.” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)

COMMUNITY

58 .

Malcolm Hoenlein

CEO, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

For three decades, Malcolm Hoenlein has served as the public face of Jewish organizational life in the United States as CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The supremely influential Hoenlein serves as what has been called “Mr. American Jewry.”

Today, Hoenlein is particularly concerned with the rise of Islamic extremism and antisemitism both at home and abroad.

Regarding Islamic radicalism, Hoenlein notes, “When I started speaking in the late 1980s about the danger of Islamic fundamentalism, people thought I belonged in the loony bin. After 9/11, I literally got hundreds and hundreds of letters from people saying, We apologize. We just didn’t see it. We didn’t get it.”

Regarding antisemitism, Hoenlein asserts, “It must be treated like all other forms of racism and bigotry. I want people in America to act before it becomes like Europe.”

Hoenlein believes the best way to do so is by bringing world leaders together in a “global summit” to combat the phenomenon. (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

COMMUNITY

59 .

Susan Julien-Levitt

Co-founder and executive director, Alums for Campus Fairness

Susan Julien-Levitt is co-founder and executive director of one of the more effective anti-BDS organizations on college campuses. Alums for Campus Fairness organizes alumni to fight the BDS movement and a general atmosphere of anti-Israel hostility.

The group began at Vassar when alumni witnessed a violently anti-Israel event, and has now spawned 16 other groups at schools like Oberlin and UCLA. The organization “works to promote an intellectually vibrant college experience while identifying and countering the antisemitism that has infected many campuses, often in the form of anti-Zionism.”

Julien-Levitt herself has lamented the attacks on Israel “as a human rights abuser worthy of pariah status while ignoring the substantial ongoing human rights abuses occurring in Israel’s neighboring countries.”

Citing one BDS-supporting academic, she said the “apparent belief that academics and academic institutions should be shunned based on the policies of their governments shows a disregard for the fundamental principles of academic freedom.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

COMMUNITY

60 .

Francis Kalifat

President, Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions

“What an awful feeling to have to be forever vigilant, attempting to fade into the background. What an agonizing feeling to follow a solitary path, deprived of the solidarity of our compatriots,” said Francis Kalifat, president of CRIF, in a 2017 speech.

As head of France’s umbrella Jewish organization, Kalifat is facing a daunting task. As he himself put it, “The fight against antisemitism is our main cause because French Jews are in the most difficult situation they have experienced since World War II.”

This antisemitism, he says, is coming from two main sources: The far-left and the Muslim community, in both of which “we see this new antisemitism advancing under the guise of anti-Zionism.”

Most recently, Kalifat has taken up the cause of Sarah Halimi, who was murdered by a Muslim neighbor in what many French Jews believe was an antisemitic murder, though the authorities refuse to consider it as such. “Why this silence?” Kalifat asked. “Why this denial of antisemitism?” (Photo credit: Twitter)

COMMUNITY

61 .

Moshe Kotlarsky

Vice chairman, Chabad’s Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch

As vice chairman of Chabad’s Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, which supervises the work of shluchim (emissaries) all over the globe, Moshe Kotlarsky oversees one of the most successful Jewish outreach programs in the world.

As it is often said, wherever you find Coca Cola you also find Chabad. The shluchim constitute a global network of emissaries that help Jews in often remote places to practice their faith, and seek to encourage a return to religiosity among the secular.

“I think that a Chabad shaliach has a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging,” Kotlarsky says as a way of explaining the project’s success. “Every one of our shluchim has a DD degree — not a Doctor of Divinity but a Doctor of Dedication and Devotion. When you go out with that degree and you’re bound to an ideology and you’re inoculated by the teachings of the Rebbe; that is the sole root of the success that is going on.” (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

COMMUNITY

62 .

Yehuda Krinsky

Chairman, Chabad’s Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch

“The magnitude of what the Rebbe created and inspired to this very day is obvious to any observer, and it will continue in perpetuity,” says Yehuda Krinsky, the chairman of Chabad’s Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch.

Chabad today is the most public and, in many ways, most successful Chasidic sect in the world. Krinsky and the board of Merkos oversee the wide Chabad network and its expansion throughout the world.

As a result, “Newsweek” named him America’s most influential rabbi in 2010, and the "Daily Beast" named him number three in 2013. (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

COMMUNITY

63 .

Mark B. Levin

Executive vice chairman, National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry

Washington adviser to the World Jewish Congress and executive vice chairman and CEO of the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, Mark B. Levin is one of the foremost Western activists on behalf of the Jews of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

An expert on Soviet Jewry and antisemitism, Levin has been involved in these issues for decades. He has labored on behalf of often forgotten communities, receiving awards for his service from the Russian Jewish Community Foundation and the Ukrainian president.

Most recently, Levin made an impassioned plea for President Trump to retain a State Department special envoy on antisemitism, writing, “It’s a position that allows our country to lead by example. And it has inspired other nations to follow suit in making the eradication of antisemitism a priority.” (Photo credit: NCSEJ.)

COMMUNITY

64 .

Lillian Pinkus

President, AIPAC

The first female president of AIPAC in a decade, Lillian Pinkus is faced with some formidable challenges; in particular, the rise of divisive and polarizing politics in the US.

Pinkus came into office in 2016 pledging to expand and diversify the powerful lobby, saying, “We need to grow the number of people who are involved in AIPAC and we need to grow the number of people that are involved in pro-Israel politics.”

But at the 2016 annual policy conference, then-candidate Donald Trump’s criticism of President Obama caused upheaval, prompting an emotional disavowal from Pinkus.

At the 2017 conference, Pinkus repeated her admonitions and a warning as well. “Support for Israel is not immune” from the intense partisanship of American politics, she said. “Elements on each side of the aisle are trying to fracture our movement.” She urged Israel supporters to “work harder than ever before to hold the ideological center.” (Photo credit: AIPAC.)

COMMUNITY

65 .

David Schizer

Executive vice president and CEO, Joint Distribution Committee

The new head of the venerable Jewish charity the Joint Distribution Committee, David Schizer has never been anything less than accomplished.

Born in Brooklyn, he served as dean of Columbia Law School, the youngest man ever to do so, and took a leadership role in Jewish institutions like the Ramaz school and the 92nd Street Y. In 2017 he was interviewed for the office of Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy by the incoming Trump administration.

“Every Jewish family has a history of poverty, religious persecution, or violence –
the only difference is how long ago it was. For me personally, it is profoundly meaningful to be appointed CEO of an extraordinary organization that has been a lifeline to Jews in their hour of need, and that renews Jewish life throughout the world,” Schizer said of his new office at the JDC.

One particular area of concentration for Schizer is aiding the small but growing Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. (Photo credit: JDC.)

COMMUNITY

66 .

Michael Joseph Schudrich

Chief rabbi of Poland

As Chief rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich finds himself presiding over what he calls “a tiny community struggling with reasserting its Jewish identity and with the historic responsibility of preserving a glorious past.”

Indeed, Schudrich has found that one of his major tasks is reconnecting what is essentially a community of modern marranos with their own heritage. Due to the Holocaust and then decades of communist rule, many Polish Jews who survived hid their identity from others, including their own children.

“We don’t know how many behaved so, but estimates are that there were tens of thousands,” says Schudrich, so many, in fact, that a hotline was set up for people who think they might be Jewish. Since the fall of communism, he adds, “thousands of Poles have discovered their Jewish roots.”

In July 2017, Schudrich accompanied Ivanka Trump to lay a wreath at a memorial to the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia.)

COMMUNITY

67 .

Natan Sharansky

Chairman, Jewish Agency for Israel

For eight years, Natan Sharansky has overseen Israel-diaspora relations as head of the Jewish Agency. Tasked with maintaining connections with Jewish communities around the world, as well as fostering Aliyah and public diplomacy, the former Soviet Prisoner of Zion, refusenik leader, and leading politician has by most accounts done an excellent job, with the Agency asking him in 2017 to serve an extra year as chairman.

This year, Sharansky has been tasked with managing two potential crises: the sudden freeze of a plan to create an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall and a controversy regarding the recognition of conversions by the Israeli rabbinate. “Although I was skeptical of the value of remaining for an additional year, what has taken place in recent months has convinced me that it is important that I remain,” he said.

Sharansky warned of the cost of the growing rift between Israel and the diaspora, saying, “I do believe that we can overcome these (current) crises. I’m not sure we will be able to restore this type of relationship and trust. And that’s a big loss.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

COMMUNITY

68 .

Sheldon Adelson

Philanthropist

Owner of the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Sheldon Adelson is famous for his philanthropy and political involvement.

Growing up in poverty in Massachusetts, Adelson’s business acumen made him a billionaire, and he has become one of the biggest donors to Jewish causes in the world. Among the programs he has sponsored is one of the most successful, Birthright Israel, which takes young Jews from across the globe on free trips to Israel. Adelson’s donations to the program have amounted to $160 million over the years. His latest initiative, the Maccabee Task Force, seeks to combat anti-Israel and antisemitic activity on college campuses.

Adelson’s involvement in Jewish and pro-Israel causes is also political, with donations to pro-Israel candidates that have made him a major power broker in the Republican party. (Photo credit: Courtesy.)

PHILANTHROPY

69 .

Sander Gerber

Hedge fund manager

Sander Gerber, chief executive and investment officer at Hudson Bay Capital Management, has turned himself into a highly effective activist on one issue: Ending the Palestinian Authority’s payments to terrorists and their families.

Gerber became aware of the practice after American veteran Taylor Force was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel.

Gerber put his financial skills to good use by going “line-by-line” through the PA’s official budget. What he discovered shocked him. It “enabled me to understand that the PA had created an infrastructure to indoctrinate, reward and incentivize their people to become terrorists. When I learned that the PA had laws to kill the Jews, I couldn’t sleep at night.”

He turned his sleeplessness into action, helping push the Taylor Force Act, which would cut funds to the PA unless it ends the practice, into the public consciousness. The act is now set for a full Senate vote. “Without Sander Gerber,” said one Washington insider, “this wouldn’t have happened.” (Photo credit: Screenshot/AIPAC video.)

PHILANTHROPY

70 .

Bob Kraft

Philanthropist

In Israel, “football” means soccer; that is, until now. The popularity of “American football” is growing in the Jewish state, largely through the efforts of Bob Kraft, owner of the five-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

To encourage the growth of the sport, Kraft recently donated $6 million toward building Israel’s first regulation-sized football stadium in Jerusalem.

Kraft’s dedication to Israel is deep and profound. As he said on one visit, “This isn’t a business trip. It’s something about spirituality.”

He and his family have sponsored numerous philanthropical projects in Israel, many related to sports, as well as trips that bring prominent football players to visit the Jewish state.

“I love America, and I’m so lucky to have been born there and be a US citizen, but when I came here I also learned that this place was so special,” Kraft said during a September 2017 visit. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

PHILANTHROPY

71 .

Ronald Lauder

President, World Jewish Congress

President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder is one of the most influential Jewish figures in the world.

Heir to the Estee Lauder fortune, Lauder helped revive Jewish communities in Europe and the Soviet Union, aided Benjamin Netanyahu at the beginning of his political career, and served as chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations before becoming WJC head in 2007.

As one commentator noted, as WJC chief, Lauder has “access to major global leaders and statesmen, as well as the heads of moderate Arab states. He liaises closely with Israeli leaders and has assumed a crucial role in the struggle against the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement and global antisemitism.”

Most recently, Lauder has become an unofficial liaison between the Trump administration, the Netanyahu government, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

PHILANTHROPY

72 .

Gerald Ronson

Founding chairman, Community Security Trust

Gerald Ronson, CBE is perhaps Britain’s most prominent Jewish philanthropist. Head of the massive Heron International property development company, he is the founding chairman of the Community Security Trust, one of the country’s most essential Jewish organizations.

As Ronson himself describes it, CST’s work covers physical security, political research, and helping victims of antisemitism. … Jewish organizations, schools, synagogues, old-age homes, welfare centers, community centers, and communal events have CST secure their activities.”

Ronson warns of the rise of anti-Jewish racism in the Muslim community and the far-left, saying that if the Labor party’s anti-Israel leader Jeremy Corbyn is elected, “You’ll see an increase in antisemitism,” making it uncomfortable “for Jews who want to live their lives in the UK as fully identified Jews, and not be uncomfortable if they were wearing a kippah or tzitzit as they walk down the high street without being attacked in some form or another.” (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

PHILANTHROPY

73 .

Haim Saban

Entertainment mogul

Billionaire entertainment mogul Haim Saban is one of America’s staunchest supporters of Israel and godfather of its support in the Democratic party.

Saban was born in Egypt, grew up in Israel, and became a media giant through Saban Entertainment with shows like the children’s adventure program “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.” He also owns media outlets like the Spanish-language network Univision.

“As an Israeli-American I am always concerned about the well-being of Israel,” Saban says. He sponsors, for example, AIPAC’s Saban National Political Leadership Training Seminar, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, and numerous fundraising activities inside and outside of Hollywood.

He is also a chief supporter of the Democratic party and was a major donor to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Following Clinton’s loss, he helped prevent the election of Keith Ellison to head of the DNC, saying, “If you go back to his positions, his papers, his speeches, the way he has voted, he is clearly an antisemite and anti-Israel individual.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

PHILANTHROPY

74 .

Warren Goldstein

Chief rabbi of South Africa

The chief rabbi of South Africa since 2005, Warren Goldstein walks a delicate line in a country still struggling with the legacy of apartheid. On the one hand, Jews are accepted as part of South African culture; on the other, the ruling ANC party still remains often hostile to Israel and Zionism.

In 2017, Goldstein distinguished himself by calling for South Africa’s Jewish community to join in protests against President Jacob Zuma, who was accused of corruption.

“Say no to corruption and state capture,” said Goldstein. “Let us make our voices heard through the length and breadth of this country to say that we do not want a country of injustice and corruption. Let us be free from the tyranny of corruption, let us be free to create the country of our dreams.”

Goldstein is known for his communal initiatives, including the Shabbat Project, which has become an annual event in which Jews of all backgrounds from across the world observe one Sabbath together. (Photo credit: Office of Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein.)

RELIGION

75 .

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

Chief rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth

Since 2013, Ephraim Mirvis has served as the chief rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth. He has been an outspoken advocate of Jewish unity and the State of Israel.

He grew up in South Africa, and has been a vociferous critic of the “apartheid slander” against Israel, saying, “The difference between the two countries could scarcely be more stark” and calling the claim “a comparison that is entirely false; a grave insult to those who suffered under apartheid; and a tragic obstacle to peace.”

He has also concentrated on expanding roles for women in the Jewish community and building up communities in the UK provinces. (Photo credit: Kinloss.)

RELIGION

76 .

Jonathan Sacks

Author and theologian

Perhaps the most widely-known rabbi in Europe, Lord Jonathan Sacks has been at the forefront of Jewish life in Britain for decades.

The former chief rabbi of Britain and a noted writer, speaker, and moralist, Sacks believes in a balance between the universal and particular values of Judaism, and sees the Torah as offering a moral vision applicable to the current world, while also drawing lessons from non-Jewish thinkers and interfaith dialogue.

This world is one he sees as undergoing drastic change. “We are going through one of the most profound revolutions in all of human history,” he says, “and I sum it up with a single phrase: cultural climate change,” in which the West is losing its monopoly over the hearts and minds of people around the globe.

Sacks advocates religious engagement with the wider society in order to solve this problem, bringing a new spirituality to modern life in which, “We might just find we can keep our feet in society and our head in religion.” (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

RELIGION

77 .

Meir Soloveichik

Senior rabbi, Congregation Shearith Israel

Scion of a rabbinic dynasty, Meir Soloveichik was thrust into the public eye when he gave the opening invocation at the Republican National Convention in 2012.

Called the “rabbi-in-chief of the Republican party,” Soloveichik is the great nephew of the revered Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, one of the most influential thinkers of the modern Orthodox movement.

Since 2013, Soloveichik has been the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City, a Sephardic institution that is the oldest synagogue in the US.

He pursues his conservative thinking through prolific writing for conservative journals like “First Things” and “Commentary,” while participating in activist events like the March for Life. (Photo credit: Congregation Shearith Israel.)

RELIGION

78 .

David Stav

Chairman, TZOHAR

In a nation dominated by a monolithic religious establishment, Rabbi David Stav leads a remarkable movement. Tzohar is dedicated to forming what is essentially a parallel rabbinate in Israel, one that offers Israelis a more moderate and less onerous option for religious services.

Tzohar sees its mission as “nurturing moderate, rabbinic leadership and shaping public policy” in opposition to a “bureaucratic, dysfunctional and highly political” religious monopoly.

Saying that he fears secular Israelis may leave the country because of their experiences with the ultra-Orthodox monopoly over the rabbinate, Stav says his organization is “the ultimate address, the alternative for those Jews who want to be engaged with Judaism but don’t want to be connected to the establishment. I want all Jewish people to feel that Israel is their place.” (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.)

RELIGION

79 .

Adi Altschuler

Social entrepreneur

By the time she was barely out of her teens, Adi Altschuler was already one of Israel’s leading social entrepreneurs.

At the age of 12, Altschuler began caring for a young boy with cerebral palsy. Realizing he had little opportunity for social interaction, she founded a new youth movement called Krembo Wings, which teams teenage counsellors with special needs children who can then interact together.

She didn’t stop there. Feeling that something was lacking in Israel’s observance of Holocaust Memorial Day, she founded Memories@Home, which brings Israelis together in their homes with survivors who then tell their stories.

In recognition of her work, Altschuler was listed by “Time” magazine as a future world leader in 2014.

Altschuler is now head of Google’s Economic Platform in Israel. “Most of my life, I had failures,” she says. “But as long as you persist in what you believe in and you have a sense that you serve a higher purpose, then I think every barrier and every challenge can motivate you to continue.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

TOMORROW

80 .

Ollie Anisfeld

Founder, J-TV

Oliver Anisfeld has become a Jewish new media mogul at the ripe old age of 22, having launched the British-based YouTube channel J-TV.

Anisfeld says the idea for the channel came because of a “gap in the market. … There was an apathy about Jewish identity. My idea was to create a new, high quality, online global Jewish media channel.”

Faced with disinterest, Anisfeld barreled his way into the office of Lord Kestenbaum, a Jewish peer, and quickly convinced him to support the idea. Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks also embraced the project.

The purpose of the channel, Anisfeld states, is “to engage both Jews and non-Jews who want to understand Jewish culture.” (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

TOMORROW

81 .

Craig Dershowitz

Executive director, Artists 4 Israel

Craig Dershowitz is executive director of one of the most unique pro-Israel organizations in the world. Artists 4 Israel uses avant-garde art projects to show the human side of the Jewish state and bring “beauty, healing, and protection to communities and people ravished by fighting.”

The group was founded during the 2009 Gaza war when a group of Israel supporters put on a charity exhibition to raise money for bomb shelters.

There, says Dershowitz, “Hundreds of people came and these were young, cool, diverse New York trendsetters who had never experienced an Israel-related event before. We realized quickly that we had a chance and an obligation to this community to be the voice of Israel.”

The group has undertaken such tasks as painting murals on bomb shelters in the often-bombarded city of Sderot.

“There tends to be a misconception that the arts community is liberal and as such doesn’t support Israel. The truth is that those who do are oftentimes silent,” Dershowitz says. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

TOMORROW

82 .

Noa Regev

CEO, Jerusalem Film Festival

When Noa Regev took over as CEO of the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2013, the annual event was in deep disarray following the departure of its founder Lia Van Leer.

“This festival had glorious days where everyone who was important in cinema attended, and it was a symbol of free culture and coexistence in a city that should stand for that,” Regev said at the time. “I look at what Lia did, and I want to do the same.”

She succeeded. The festival is now once again a must for the Israeli film industry and fans around the country.

In particular, Regev has concentrated on restoring the over 30,000 movies in Israel’s film archive, which she calls a “national treasure.” In 2017, a major restoration was done on “Seige,” a classic drama about a woman’s recovery from her husband’s death in the Six Day War.

“It’s proof,” Regev commented, “of how many unbelievable treasures will be found.” (Photo credit: Facebook.)

TOMORROW

83 .

David Collier

Blogger and activist

A pro-Israel online researcher and commentator, David Collier is notable for his strong stomach. He not only argues with anti-Zionists and antisemites, he examines their ideology, claims, and writings in excruciating detail, relentlessly going back to the sources to fact-check every one of their accusations.

Collier lived in Israel for two decades, and has maintained contacts across the political spectrum. On his website, he posts detailed research and rebuttals of Israel’s detractors, venturing into some of the darkest corners of the Internet where neo-Nazis and supporters of terrorism are lurking, even arguing with Holocaust deniers.

His work places special emphasis on revisionist histories of Israel and particularly the BDS movement, which he says is an existential threat because it “destroys any possibility of mutual empathy between Israelis and Palestinians, making peace impossible. Increasingly, it is also making any mutual empathy between gentiles and Jews impossible.” (Photo credit: Facebook.)

VOICES

84 .

Alan Dershowitz

Legal scholar

The famously combative legal scholar and pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz has had an eventful year.

It started with a bang when he renounced his support for President Obama after the administration abstained from a UN vote on Israeli settlements, saying Obama told him he would always have Israel’s back, but “I didn't realize what he meant is that he would have their back to stab them.”

As the battle between the alt-right and the far-left intensified in the US, Dershowitz declared a pox on both their houses, saying they share an antipathy toward the Jews.

“This implicit tolerance of antisemitism - as long as it comes from someone whose other views are acceptable - represents a dangerous new trend from both the Right and Left,” he asserted.

One of the most vocal pro-Israel Democrats, Dershowitz has sought to maintain support for the Jewish state within the party. Ahead of the DNC chairmanship election in February, Dershowitz threatened to leave the party if Congressman Keith Ellison – with his checkered record on Israel – won the post. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

VOICES

85 .

Larry Elder

Media personality

Popular conservative pundit Larry Elder is a passionate and dedicated defender of Israel and the Jews across many media platforms.

Elder first visited Israel in 1973, and he regularly hails the small country’s military victories over its enemies and the millennia of Jewish history in the Land of Israel.

Of Israel’s opponents, he often says they know “jack about the conflict” and marvels at “how you can passionately hold a position and be so profoundly ignorant.”

An African-American, Elder also emphasizes and celebrates the Jewish contribution to the civil rights struggle.

In 2017, Elder and fellow conservative pundit Dennis Prager are hosting a "Stand With Israel" tour marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

VOICES

86 .

Terry Glavin

Author and journalist

A regular columnist for Canada’s "National Post," Terry Glavin is an outspoken supporter of Israel in a country that sometimes displays indifference to the Jewish state.

Something of a Canadian neoconservative, Glavin advocates for a hawkish, though sensible, approach to foreign policy. He has written strongly against the Iranian regime, itemized Syrian war crimes, and defended Israel’s cause against its enemies.

In recent articles he has chronicled how Israel is treating wounded Syrians, spoken out against appeasement of Iran, written sympathetically of Israel’s relations with the incoming Trump administration, and slammed the BDS movement, whose “objective is to end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”

In May 2017, Glavin gave the keynote speech at the CIJA Israel Advocacy Symposium. (Photo credit: Twitter.)

VOICES

87 .

Kasim Hafeez

Outreach coordinator, Christians United for Israel

“I was born to hate Jews,” says Kasim Hafeez. The British-born Muslim of Pakistani descent had to fight for years to overcome the brutal antisemitism he grew up with.

He remembers his father praising Hitler, members of his community “calling for the destruction of all Jews,” and after long indoctrination considered becoming a terrorist himself.

Then he read Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case for Israel,” which set him on the path to becoming a “Muslim Zionist” and strong supporter of Israel. He went to visit the country and, at first, looked for “indications of racial segregation, a sign saying ‘Arabs only.’ I couldn’t find any.”

Today, Hafeez is an advocate for Israel, believing that Israel must become better at making its case and combatting general ignorance about the Jewish state and the Arab-Israeli conflict. (Photo credit: Maxine Dovere.)

VOICES

88 .

Gretchen Rachel Hammond

Tablet Magazine reporter

One does not expect to be the object of a racist smear campaign from an LGBT organization, but it happened to Gretchen Rachel Hammond. The former reporter for the “Windy City Times” was the subject of a brutal intimidation campaign and ultimately lost her job for daring to report on an antisemitic incident at the Chicago Dyke March, where a group of Jewish demonstrators were kicked out for waving Star of David flags.

As soon as the story broke, Hammond received threats in which she was called a “kike” and was ultimately tossed from the paper.

The organizers of the Dyke March celebrated with a racist tweet that aped David Duke’s expression “Zios” to describe Jews – “Zio tears replenish my electrolytes.”

With considerable grace, Hammond replied, “You attacked, humiliated and robbed me of a job. No tears. I forgive you. Just hope you learn how destructive and pointless hatred is.”

Fortunately, the Jewish community has not let Hammond’s persecution go unanswered. Hammond now writes for “Tablet Magazine" and was embraced by this publication. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

VOICES

89 .

Jenna Jameson

Former adult film star

Once the biggest adult film star in the world, Jenna Jameson transformed herself over the past year into one of the world’s top converts to Judaism. Born Catholic, the legendary Jameson embraced Judaism when she met her fiancé, Israeli-born businessman Lior Bitton.

She quickly became one of the most outspoken defenders of Judaism, Israel, and the Jewish people on social media, tweeting constant statements of support for Israel and Zionism, pictures of the Jewish food she cooks for her husband, and lashing out at antisemites across the spectrum; most notably, in a knock down, drag out fight with notorious former Klansman and ferocious antisemite David Duke.

“I’ve been a warrior all my life,” she said. “Now I am applying my strength to defending the Jewish people and Israel.”

It appears Jameson is putting her money where her mouth is, expressing the desire to move to Israel after her marriage. In the meantime, she has given birth to her and Bitton’s first child. (Photo credit: Instagram.)

VOICES

90 .

Allison Josephs

Blogger and activist

Showing people that “Orthodox Jews can be funny, approachable, educated, pro-women, and open-minded” is the mission of Jew In the City, a multi-media endeavor undertaken by Allison Josephs, who hopes “To break down stereotypes about religious Jews and offer a humorous, meaningful look into Orthodox Judaism.”

Inspired by the groundbreaking web series lonelygirl15, Josephs began her initiative in 2007, which employs YouTube videos, blogs, and social media to reveal Orthodox life in the 21st century to a larger audience of Jews and non-Jews.

Raised secular, she came to Orthodoxy after a mystical experience in Hawaii. “The Torah has to be the guiding line,” she says of her newfound faith. “I believe the Torah is truth and you can experience those truths in the larger world.”

Among the partners on her journey is fellow J100 lister and “Big Bang Theory” actress Mayim Bialik, with whom she studies Torah. (Photo credit: Jewinthecity.com.)

VOICES

91 .

Meir Kay

Social media activist

A playful, positive, and often thoughtful and uplifting Internet personality, Meir Kay has channeled the lessons of the Chabad movement into a series of wildly popular YouTube videos.

Ordained as a rabbi, and with over 1.2 million Facebook followers, Kay ping pongs around New York City staging humorous stunts like bringing out a full-size bed for stressed New Yorkers to jump on or holding a “silent rave” at the office of the Department of Motor Vehicles. He then uploads videos of the events to YouTube and Facebook. The combined views of his videos have now totaled in the hundreds of millions, making Kay one of the world’s most visible Jewish social media personalities.

Kay sees his mission as spreading joy and positive energy to others, saying, “Seeing stern, focused faces transform into a smile and laugh is priceless. I feed off that positive energy and it makes all the effort that goes into producing and creating the scenarios worth it.”

“People now, more than ever, are searching and yearning for inspiration and guidance for hope and happiness, and I hope my work can help with that,” he adds. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

VOICES

92 .

Eli Lake

Journalist

Eli Lake is one of the most prominent national security correspondents in the United States. He has reported for outlets like the “Daily Beast,” the “New Republic,” and currently “Bloomberg View.”

While he is scrupulously non-partisan, Lake’s reporting often contradicts the larger media narrative surrounding national security issues, taking an objective view of Israel and its security policies, exposing flaws in then-president Obama’s claims about the Benghazi attack, and uncovering uncomfortable facts about pro-Iran lobbyists in the US.

In a typical recent column, Lake went deeper into the ramifications of the Temple Mount protests, in contrast to many media outlets who simply reiterated Palestinian talking points. “The greater danger to one of Islam’s holiest places these days,” he wrote, “comes from the Palestinian fanatics who claim to be fighting for its reclamation. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

VOICES

93 .

Bernard Henri Lévy

Philosopher

“I was always proud to be Jewish,” says French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. “I always believed it was a source of glory, never anything to question or be ashamed of.”

The hugely influential, provocative, and oft-controversial thinker was one of the founders of the New Philosophers, who criticized the far left beginning in the 1970s, and has become famous for his humanitarian work in areas like Bosnia, Sudan, Libya, and Kurdistan. His is also one of the most prominent pro-Israel voices in an often-hostile Europe.

“My relationship to Judaism is the most important thread of my life as a committed intellectual,” he says, and in 2017, his magnum opus on the subject, “The Genius of Judaism” was published in English.

In it, he advocates an “affirmational Judaism” based in positive action and profound contemplation, saying, “When Gaon of Vilnius had to choose between a lazy student who believes and an ardent, vibrant student who doubts, he says that he prefers the second. So do I.” (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

VOICES

94 .

Rupert Murdoch

Chairman, News Corporation

“Over the years, some of my wildest critics seem to have assumed I am Jewish,” Rupert Murdoch said when he accepted an award from the American Jewish Committee. “At the same time, some of my closest friends wish I were. So tonight, let me set the record straight: I live in New York. I have a wife who craves Chinese food. And people I trust tell me I practically invented the word ‘chutzpah.’”

The media mogul has taken in awards from innumerable Jewish organizations for his philanthropy and support, and his networks like “Fox News” tend to be the least biased toward Israel of any major media outlets.

This year, Murdoch was offered the chance to buyIsraeli daily “Yediot Aharonot” (he passed) and his son pledged $1 million to the ADL following the alt-right march in Charlottesville. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

VOICES

95 .

Dennis Prager

Media personality

The Middle East conflict, says long-time radio star Dennis Prager, is the hardest conflict to solve, but the easiest to explain: “One side wants the other side dead.”

The problem, says the conservative pundit, is that Muslims and Arabs “do not recognize the right of Israel to exist.”

This simple reality is one that Prager reminds people of on a regular basis in his role as one of the most popular and successful opinion makers in the United States, in particular through his series of videos entitled PragerU, which garner millions of hits.

“Prager University is the most widely viewed pro-American, pro-Israeli, pro-Judeo-Christian values site in the world,” he says.

In particular, Prager hopes his virtual university will aid Jewish college students.

“Due to the influence of leftism in high schools and universities, vast numbers of young Jews are alienated from Israel and believe that Israel’s enemies are the moral party,” he asserts, something he believes his multi-media efforts can change. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

VOICES

96 .

Abigail Pogrebin

Author

Judaism has, to say the least, a lot of holidays, only some of which are observed by most Jews. Writer Abby Pogrebin took on the task of changing this with her 2017 book “My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew,” her chronicle of observing every Jewish holiday in the calendar.

“I was frustrated by my own ignorance, by the fact that I had never experienced what I saw more observant Jews experience in their average year, and it looked meaningful from my vantage point,” she says.

Calling herself “a little bit of a rabbi groupie,” she tried to engage in rituals from across traditions and denominations.

In the end, Pogrebin, who is the president of Central Synagogue in New York City, wants others to take the opportunity to experience the complete Jewish year. “What I hope,” she says, “that anyone finds in this book is some answer to why there seems to be a Jewish holiday every five seconds, and also what is this heritage that has endured, what is the power of it, and what is the relevance today?’

Pogrebin, a former television producer, is also the author ofStars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish” and “One and the Same: My Life As an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned About Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular” and the Amazon Kindle single “Showstopper.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

VOICES

97 .

Jake Tapper

CNN anchor

Top “CNN” anchor Jake Tapper usually doesn’t make much of his Jewish background, but Jews around the country were likely heartened when the sometimes pugnacious reporter went head to head with celebrity Israel-hater Linda Sarsour and won.

It started when the Women’s March tweeted in praise of cop-killing terrorist Assata Shakur. Tapper tweeted in response, “Shakur is a cop-killer fugitive in Cuba. This, ugly sentiments from @lsarsour & @dykemarchchi ...Any progressives out there condemning this?”

Sarsour slandered Tapper in response, saying he was part of the alt-right. Unintimidated, Tapper blasted Sarsour’s call for Ayaan Hirsi Ali to have her vagina “taken away.” As Tapper noted, “Pretty vile to say about a survivor of FGM.”

Raised in a Jewish day school and an alumni of Camp Ramah, Tapper has taken up the cudgel for the Jews before, once criticizing his own network for a chyron that appeared to grant legitimacy to the question of whether Jews are people. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

VOICES

98 .

Michael Twitty

Chef and author

Michael Twitty calls himself “four-times blessed” because he is “large of body, gay, African American and Jewish.”

Twitty is now one of the hottest American celebrity chefs, bursting on to the scene when he criticized fellow chef Paula Deen for ignoring the African-American influence on southern cooking.

Since then, Twitty has been tirelessly working his magic through the Cooking Gene Project and Afroculinaria, which trace the roots of African-American cuisine all the way back to Africa.

The virtuoso cook and anthropologist of African-American culinary traditions is also a convert to Judaism, calling his cooking “Afro-ashke-phardi.” He says that African-American and Jewish food have a deep kinship.

“There are other similar, old-food traditions,” he says, “but none that really go into the dialectic of humor and resistance and memory and pain as well as black and Jewish diasporic food cultures. Not many people have that, where that’s what they need their food to do and to be for them.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

VOICES

99 .

Bari Weiss

New York Times editor

The “New York Times” isn’t always noted for its sympathy toward Israel and the Jews, but the Gray Lady went some way toward balancing its biases in 2017 when Bari Weiss joined its op-ed section.

Weiss, a former editor at “Tablet Magazine” and the “Wall Street Journal,” is hardly a mindless ideologue, but she is an articulate defender of the Jewish and pro-Israel point of view, and she has already been causing a stir.

In a recent column, she blasted the leaders of the Women’s March for “chilling ideas and associations,” especially the anti-Zionist Linda Sarsour, who has advocated sharia law and claimed Zionists cannot be feminists.

In another piece on the ejection of Jewish activists from the Chicago Dyke March for waving Star of David flags, Weiss called the incident “a reminder that antisemitism remains as much a problem on the far-left as it is on the far-right.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

VOICES

100 .

Sarah Zoabi

Activist

“I define myself as an Arab, Muslim, Israeli, and proud Zionist,” says Sarah Zoabi, thus demolishing all stereotypes and assumptions about Israeli-Arabs.

Hailing from northern Israel and a relative of the outspoken anti-Zionist MK Hanin Zoabi, Sarah Zoabi is a vocal and passionate supporter of the State of Israel and its founding ideology, saying, “I believe in the right of the Jewish people to have their own country, which is the state of Israel, the holy land.”

She acknowledges that others may find her beliefs bizarre. “I’m sure that the people who hear me will say: ‘what, have you lost your mind? How can you say you are a Zionist?’”

She defends herself by saying, “I want to say to all the Arab [citizens] of Israel to wake up. We live in paradise. Compared to other countries, to Arab countries – we live in paradise.”

Sarah is the mother of Muhammad Zoabi, another Arab Zionist who was forced to go into hiding when he received death threats after posting a video supporting Israel and denouncing terrorism. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

VOICES

1 . of
  • Micah Goodman

    Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

    One of Israel’s leading contemporary thinkers, Micah Goodman, a professor of medieval philosophy, has turned the country’s intellectual world on its head in the unlikely role of political analyst.

    Goodman’s new bestselling book “Catch 67,” a reference to the Six-Day War in 1967, argues that the left has convinced Israelis that they must withdraw from the West Bank to preserve their nation’s Jewish majority; while, conversely, the right has convinced them that this cannot be done without critically endangering Israel’s security.

    In effect, the two sides cancel each other out, leaving Israel in a perpetual stalemate.

    Most controversially, Goodman says this may not be a bad thing, as it will force Israelis to confront their complex reality.

    “There is no solution,” he asserts. “If you’re willing to accept the fact that there is no solution, then you can start dealing with the problem. … I think there is no solution, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot we can do – precisely because there’s no solution.” (Photo credit: Shalom Hartman Institute. Hartman.org.il.)

    ACADEMIA

  • David Hirsh

    Professor, Goldsmiths College, University of London

    Among anti-BDS activists, Britain’s David Hirsh particularly stands out for giving a name to one of the most insidious forms of modern antisemitism: the “Livingstone Formulation,” named for frequent practitioner Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London.

    The phrase describes a rhetorical sleight of hand in which anti-Israel activists claim they are being attacked in bad faith as a result of their criticism of Israel, then make the antisemitic charge that the attack is “part of a common secret plan to silence such ‘criticism.’”

    Founder of the anti-BDS group Engage, Hirsh most recently wrote and narrated the documentary "Whitewash," on antisemitism in the Labour party.

    Hirsh’s latest book, "Contemporary Left Antisemitism,” was published in August 2017. (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    ACADEMIA

  • David N. Myers

    President and CEO, Center for Jewish History

    Formerly the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA and most recently the author of “Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction,” David N. Myers took the helm earlier this year of New York’s Center for Jewish History.

    The Center combines the resources of five separate organizations to represent what Myers calls a “sweeping view of Jewish history” that encompasses all fields and periods of the Jewish people’s ancient narrative.

    “I say nothing Jewish-historical should be foreign to the Center,” says Myers. In particular, the Center is in the process of digitizing its resources so they will be easily available to scholars and the general public alike.

    While Myers’ views on Israel have recently aroused the ire of some critics, his contributions to the study of Jewish history have been widely lauded. (Photo credit: CJH.org.)

    ACADEMIA

  • Cary Nelson

    Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Cary Nelson, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an affiliated faculty member of the University of Haifa, is one of American academia’s most outspoken opponents of BDS and other racist anti-Israel activity on campus.

    Nelson began his anti-boycott campaign with “The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel” in 2015, and followed it up with his latest book "Dreams Deferred: A Concise Guide to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Movement to Boycott Israel.” It constitutes a ferocious indictment of the BDS movement from a liberal-left perspective, providing important background on BDS and refuting its central claims against Israel.

    Nelson also blasted a proposed resolution at the Modern Language Association’s 2017 convention that would have supported such a boycott. The resolution, he said, “is not only anti-Israel but, in its unqualified hostility to Israel’s six million Jews, is fundamentally antisemitic.” The resolution was defeated by a wide margin. (Photo credit: Cary-Nelson.org.)

    ACADEMIA

  • Ilan Troen

    Professor, Brandeis University

    The Stoll Family chair in Israel Studies at Brandeis University, president of the Association for Israel Studies, and an emeritus professor at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, Ilan Troen is one of the founding fathers of the field of Israel Studies.

    Israel Studies seeks to present an objective scholarly approach to Israel and its history, in contrast to the often hostile attitude of conventional Middle East studies.

    Through the efforts of Troen and others, a generation of scholars will be trained in a more open-minded and unbiased view of the Jewish state.

    Troen states, “We pursue the free and informed inquiry of all aspects of Israeli society, and disseminate our findings in hundreds of institutions across the world. While we hold diverse views on Israeli history, politics and culture, we all uphold a free and unfettered exchange of ideas.” (Photo: Flickr.)

    ACADEMIA

  • Yaacov Agam

    Artist

    For decades, Yaacov Agam has been the lone Israeli at the top of the art world. World renowned for his innovative and influential sculpture, he is considered one of the primary founders of “optic” or “kinetic” art, in which optical illusions, variant colors, and malleable structures are employed so that the images and objects change as the viewer moves “through” the piece, seeing it from different angles.

    Agam describes his work by saying, “My intention was to create a work of art which would transcend the visible, which cannot be perceived except in stages, with the understanding that it is a partial revelation and not the perpetuation of the existing. My aim is to show what can be seen within the limits of possibility which exists in the midst of coming into being.”

    Born in Rishon LeZion, Agam was the son of a pious rabbi who gave him a background in Jewish knowledge, with special attraction to the Kabbalah, which Agam claims has influenced his work. Among his other interests, Agam designs Jewish ritual objects like mezuzahs.

    One of his most famous works is the “Fire and Water” fountain in Israel’s Dizengoff Square. Recently removed as the square is renovated, it will be restored to its original place upon completion of the project. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Joyce Azria

    Fashion designer

    Joyce Azria is a true rarity: An Orthodox Jewish fashion maven. Part of a fashion dynasty founded by her father Max, Azria left her father’s company BCBG in 2017 to found “Avec Les Filles: A Story Told by Joyce Azria.”

    Azria’s father, a traditional Sephardi Jew, made sure the family had “a lot of spirituality and excitement towards Hashem,” and this only deepened when Azria discovered Chabad in young adulthood.

    “Having a strong moral center helps you be a better businesswoman, a better partner, a better wife, a better person,” she says. And as she sometimes tells overeager colleagues, “The world just stops for me on Shabbos.”

    Her new fashion line is in keeping with her old BCBG tradition of low-to-medium priced clothing that remains stylish and, like her, it bridges two worlds: “I love creating for an Orthodox person and the world. … There is always something modest in the collection. At all times, there is always something you can pair or make modest.” (Photo credit: LinkedIn.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Craig Balsam, David Renzer, Steve Schnur

    Music industry executives

    Three of the record industry’s top executives, Craig Balsam, David Renzer, and Steve Schnur, have found themselves thrust to the forefront of the fight against BDS, and especially the movement’s unofficial public spokesman, former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters.

    Renzer, chairman of Spirit Music Group, and Schnur, music president of Electronic Arts, are co-founders of Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), a group dedicated to fighting anti-Israel actions from within the music and entertainment industries.

    “We decided there needed to be a response to the BDS movement, because very few music executives are advocating for Israel,” said Balsam, co-founder of Razor & Tie Entertainment and advisory board member of CCFP. To fight BDS, he continued, CCFP works to support artists being “barraged” by BDS’s often bullying tactics and helps connect them with Israeli artists.

    CCFP, he added, also believes in using music to “build bridges,” for instance by supporting programs in Israel that bring Arab and Jewish musicians together. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Mayim Bialik

    Actress

    Star of the massively successful sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Mayim Bialik may be the most famous Orthodox Jew in America.

    A four-time Emmy nominee, neuroscientist, and distant relative of Israel’s national poet Haim Nahman Bialik, Mayim Bialik was raised a Reform Jew but drifted toward Orthodoxy as she grew older, ultimately embracing a traditional lifestyle in which she views the Torah as a “handbook for life.” Most famously, this required a specially made dress for the Emmys that conformed to her standards of modesty.

    Bialik has also proved an articulate defender of Israel and Judaism, helping to send bulletproof vests to IDF soldiers, participating in ads for BDS target Sodastream, and blasting anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour for her racist statement that feminists cannot be Zionists.

    “As a feminist Zionist, I can’t believe I am being asked to choose or even defend my religious, historical and cultural identity,” Bialik wrote. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Michel Boujenah

    Actor and comedian

    “I feel Jewish, French, Tunisian, Zionist and very close to Israel, as well as a supporter of a Palestinian state. In short, one big balagan (mess),” says French-Jewish-Tunisian-Zionist comedian Michel Boujenah, and sadly, that “big balagan” has gotten him in trouble.

    In June, the Carthage Festival of Music in Tunisia rescinded its invitation to Boujenah after protests by a BDS group. The decision was promptly denounced by the Tunisian Association for Support of Minorities, which called it an “anti-Jewish action.”

    Boujenah is outspoken about his Zionism and strong support for Israel in a country that is often hostile to both. “We Diaspora Jews have no qualms about declaring our admiration for Israel,” he says.

    He has also been among those who have brought attention to the antisemitic motive behind the April killing of French Jewish pensioner Sarah Halimi in Paris. Referring to her Islamist murderer, Kobili Trarore, Boujenah said on French TV, “He was crazy. But he was a crazy antisemite. There is no doubt about this question.” (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Alon Day

    Professional car racer

    Israel’s Athlete of the Year for 2016 was a highly unusual choice: A NASCAR driver named Alon Day. A native of Ashdod, Day gave up his dream of being a fighter pilot to race cars and has steadily risen to the top of the sport even though, ironically, it was banned in his native country until 2011.

    All of 25 years old, Day scored major wins in NASCAR’s Euro Series and is now the North American branch’s first Jewish professional driver. “Being the first Israeli who is going to race in NASCAR’s highest series is a dream come true,” he said. In his debut race, he placed 13th, which was described as “a surprising result for a rookie in his first race.”

    Many now see him as a sign that NASCAR can diversify and create an appeal broader than its core audience of white males. Indeed, one supporter calls him “the standard bearer for American Jews and Israel” in this “quintessentially American sport.” (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • David Draiman

    Musician

    From cantor to heavy metal star, David Draiman’s journey to becoming frontman of the popular band Disturbed is unusual to say the least.

    Draiman attended yeshiva, studied to be a chazzan, has a brother who lives in Israel - where he travels for vacations - and fronted a band that has sold 11 million records. Indeed, he may be the only heavy metal star in the world whose family once hoped he would become a rabbi and says he could probably still lead a High Holiday service if called upon.

    Next up for Draiman is an acoustic EP and a new album from “Disturbed.” Though he now lives a secular lifestyle, Draiman is unafraid of asserting his Jewish identity through his music, for instance, by writing a song against Holocaust denial and slamming former Iranian president and noted antisemite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    “I never pull any punches,” he says, “and I will never apologize for who I am or where I come from.” (Photo credit: Twitter/ David Draiman.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Bob Dylan

    Musician

    “Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, ‘Are my songs literature?’” Bob Dylan wrote to the Nobel Prize Committee, but by that time the committee had already decided that for him. At the end of 2016, it awarded the 76-year-old legendary singer-songwriter the Nobel Prize for Literature for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

    With this award, the former Robert Allen Zimmerman cemented his legacy as one of the greatest Jewish artists of the century, his work encompassing everything from folk to rock 'n' roll to country music to gospel to blues to, most recently, the great American songbook.

    Despite being mostly private about his faith and briefly converting to born-again Christianity, Dylan has led a surprisingly Jewish life. He grew up in a tight knit Jewish community in Minnesota, and as one article points out, wore a kippa and tallit at his son’s bar mitzvah at the Western Wall, sang “Hava Nagilah” at a Chabad telethon, and wrote the ferociously pro-Israel “Neighborhood Bully.” He has also peppered his work with biblical references, studied the Talmud, adapted Jewish prayers to songs like “Forever Young,” and even briefly flirted with the JDL.

    Reflecting on his long strange trip in his Nobel acceptance speech, Dylan said, “I return once again to Homer, who says, ‘Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story.’” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Gal Gadot

    Actress

    With the massive success of “Wonder Woman,” Gal Gadot may have the distinction of being the single most famous Israeli on the planet. The former IDF combat instructor, who first made her name as Miss Israel before crossing into modeling – once featuring in a “Maxim” photo spread of the girls of the IDF – and then acting, is now a bona fide superstar and feminist icon.

    She has also faced the typical discrimination met by Israelis in the public eye, and done so with both defiance and grace. Despite having her films banned in Arab countries and being attacked for her patriotic beliefs, Gadot has not backed down, once famously posting an image on Facebook of her and her daughter praying for IDF soldiers during the 2014 Gaza War.

    “I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens,” she wrote. “Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children...We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom!”
    (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Tomer Hemed

    Athlete

    You know you’ve arrived as a soccer player when someone decides you’re worth four million pounds. That’s precisely what British soccer team Reading was reportedly willing to pay for Israeli striker Tomer Hemed, currently of Brighton.

    Hemed’s high price has been hard earned. He started as a teenager in the youth leagues in the early 2000s, got called up to Maccabi Haifa and was tossed between various teams in the Israeli Premier League. In 2011 he went international, playing for Mallorca and then Almeria before ending up at Brighton & Hove Albion. This past year, Hemed played a key role in the club’s ascension to the English Premier League for the first time in history.

    At the same time, Hemed is reportedly “a leading figure” in Brighton’s Jewish community, attending synagogue every Friday and lighting candles at a Chanukah ceremony, which he called “an emotional moment for me. … For me to be away from Israel and get a lot of love is very important.”

    In March, Hemed displayed his national and religious pride with a Star of David haircut that he showed off on social media. ( Photo credit: Twitter.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Ben Platt

    Actor

    The current proverbial toast of Broadway is unquestionably Ben Platt, who took home the 2017 Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for his nakedly emotional performance in “Dear Evan Hansen.”

    The tale of a high schooler with social anxiety disorder who must contend with the suicide of a fellow student, the show picked up its own Tony for Best Musical (winning six in total) and became beloved of audiences for its wrenching but cathartic intensity.

    Born to a Jewish family steeped in musical theater, Platt was universally praised for sustaining the show’s emotional rollercoaster while still hitting every note perfectly. TV and Broadway star Neil Patrick Harris simply marveled, “He sings through tears!”

    Platt took the opportunity of his Tony acceptance speech to encourage kids to embrace being different. “To all young people watching at home,” he said, “don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody else because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”

    Displaying pride in his Jewish heritage during a “Late Night With Seth Meyers” appearance last year, Platt belted out a Hebrew version of the song “Luck Be a Lady,” which he said he learned at Jewish summer camp. (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Or Sasson

    Athlete

    Israeli Or Sasson won the bronze medal in judo at the Rio Olympics, but has become famous for his grace under pressure in the face of the worst sportsmanship.

    When Sasson soundly defeated Egyptian judoka Islam El Shahaby in a first round bout at the Rio games, El Shahaby broke with tradition and protocol by refusing to shake the Israeli’s hand.

    Sasson stood his ground and did not leave the ring, leaving his opponent to slink away to a round of boos from the audience. El Shahaby promptly announced he was quitting judo for good.

    Sasson received widespread praise for his dignified response to the snub and went on to win the bronze medal. “My dream came true in front of my eyes,” he said afterward. “I have worked so hard for this. I’ve had so many wins and so many losses and today was my day. I defeated all my fears.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Rachel Weisz

    Actress

    Acclaimed actress Rachel Weisz once described herself as a “Jew in disguise,” openly Jewish but never playing Jewish roles. This changed with her starring role in “Denial,” about the notorious case in which British Holocaust denier David Irving sued Jewish scholar Deborah Lipstadt for libel, effectively putting the Holocaust on trial.

    Saying she was raised “culturally” Jewish, Weisz had a strong personal connection to the material, as her parents were refugees from Hitler, with her mother just barely escaping the Nazi leader’s takeover of Austria in 1939.

    The film, she says, is not about the Holocaust, however, but about much larger themes: “How we’re now living in this kind of relativist, what they’re now calling post-truth, world, and everything is up for grabs.” Ultimately, she says, “It’s about the insanity of trying to put fact on trial.” (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Thom Yorke

    Musician

    Top British band Radiohead and its frontman Thom Yorke might seem unlikely activists for Israel, but that was effectively what they became in 2017, when the BDS movement made an unsuccessful attempt to bully them into canceling a concert in Tel Aviv.

    The boycotters threw everything they had at Radiohead, but the band remained defiant, with Yorke flipping off pro-Palestinian demonstrators at one concert.

    As Yorke put it in a “Rolling Stone” interview, “It’s deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw s**t at us in public. It’s deeply disrespectful to assume that we’re either being misinformed or that we’re so retarded we can’t make these decisions ourselves. I thought it was patronizing in the extreme. It’s offensive.”

    In the end, the band, which found an enthusiastic fan base in Israel during its early days, treated enraptured Tel Avivians to its longest concert in years to great acclaim. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    ARTS AND CULTURE

  • Kfir Damari

    Founder, SpaceIL

    Israel’s many accomplishments do not include a trip to the Moon - yet. Kfir Damari and his partners hope to change that through their project SpaceIL, Israel’s bid to win the Google Lunar Xprize. The prize of $20 million goes to whichever team can send a robotic probe to the Moon, land it, move it 500 meters, and broadcast information back to Earth.

    SpaceIL has already distinguished itself among the contestants, as it was the last to enter but the first to receive funding for their proposal. But Damari sees the competition as more than simply a bid to land on another world.

    “We want to land the craft, but the vision is much bigger,” he said. “It is important to us that this is the first Israeli spacecraft and not the last.”

    Indeed, the goal of SpaceIL is to foster the future of Israel’s technology industry. Damari says the group’s goal is to get kids “excited about the science and technology behind our spacecraft and the scientific mission it will carry. … I tell kids that it’s their job to build a spacecraft that brings ours back to Israel.” (Photo: Twitter.)

    INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

  • Joshua Foer

    Co-founder, Sefaria

    With its endless references, commentaries, and texts buried within texts, traditional Jewish literature is often compared to the Internet. Today, the massive corpus of Jewish texts is merging with the Internet itself through the website Sefaria, the brainchild of bestselling author Joshua Foer.

    Author of “Moonwalking With Einstein” and “Atlas Obscura,” Foer co-founded Sefaria with Brett Lockspeiser, with the intention of making everything from the Talmud to the Guide to the Perplexed to Chasidic commentaries available in both the original and translation on a single website.

    “We came to this process out of deep frustration that it hasn’t happened yet,” says Foer. “This should have happened 10 years ago.” (Photo credit: Joshua Foer)

    INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

  • Moshe Friedman

    Founder, KamaTech

    The Charedi world, with its principles of cloistered study and pious poverty, seems an unlikely source of successful high-tech start-ups. But Moshe Friedman has upended these stereotypes through his organization KamaTech, which works to integrate the Charedi community, especially its nascent entrepreneurs, into Israel’s legendary start-up scene.

    Freidman grew up in a Charedi family in Jerusalem. Of course, he studied in yeshiva, but then, “I realized I wanted to explore a little bit, to know new fields and meet new people and go on new adventures. I found out that Israel is the start-up nation, and I said, ‘Why shouldn’t I do that too?’”

    The organization he eventually founded, KamaTech, provides funding, advice, connections, and other resources to specifically Charedi start-ups. In 2017, it formed the venture capital fund 12 Angels to sponsor Charedi companies and projects. “Thousands of people wanted to build companies but didn’t have the opportunity because they were outside of the ecosystem,” Friedman says.

    And this will not only change the Charedi community, he believes, but Israel and the high-tech world as well. The Charedim, he said, “bring a fresh mind, a fresh perspective, different thinking. Innovation comes from diversity.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

  • Willem Griffioen

    Co-founder and chairman, Israel Allies Foundation

    William Griffioen is the co-founder and chairman of the Israel Allies Foundation, a somewhat unique organization in that it advocates for Israel by directly organizing pro-Israel caucuses in the legislatures of various countries.

    The organization was founded by the late Israeli politician and rabbi Benny Elon, who helped establish a “Christian Allies Caucus” in the Knesset, leading to the idea of creating reciprocal organizations in parliaments around the world.

    Griffioen, who is Christian, says that organizations like his “support Israel because they want to be part of something that God is doing. People are passionate about issues that are deep in their faith. Support for Israel is something that is deeply connected to our faith. This is an issue that Christians can really identify with.”

    The group concentrates on advocating for Israel on such issues as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, combatting boycott attempts, supporting the West Bank settlements, Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, and others. (Photo credit: Israelallies.org.)

    INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

  • Michael McCann

    Founder, Israel-Britain Alliance

    A former vice-chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, Michael McCann founded the Israel-Britain Alliance in 2016, a grassroots lobbying effort to advocate for Israel in the UK parliament, an often hostile forum for the Jewish state.

    “We will offer clarity on the Israel/Palestinian conflict,” he said. “Complex issues cannot be solved unless all parties are heard in a spirit of mutual respect. My experience tells me that on issues concerning the State of Israel that is not always the case in Britain. The IBA will seek to redress that imbalance.”

    Most recently, IBA circulated a petition during the last UK general election that gained the support of 216 candidates. It pledged to fight for Israel’s right to exist, foster economic ties with the Jewish state, and celebrate Israel’s democracy.

    “IBA and its partner organizations managed to mobilize thousands of voters, Jewish and non-Jewish to contact their candidates about our Pledge for Israel,” said McCann. (Photo credit: Israelbritain.org.uk.)

    INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

  • Hillel Neuer

    Executive director, UN Watch

    The man who “makes the UN tremble,” Hillel Neuer is at the forefront of the battle for democracy and human rights at an institution that often makes a mockery of both.

    Neuer is the head of UN Watch, an NGO that through research, reports, and Neuer’s own scathing speeches seeks to counter the hegemony of the dictatorships and human rights abusers that tend to dominate the international body.

    In particular, UN Watch is noted for its defense of Israel, which tends to be the object of viciously biased treatment by UN institutions. “When I address the antisemitism and the demonization of Israel, I bring the full passion of that injustice to my speech,” says Neuer.

    Most recently, Neuer’s speech at the notoriously anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council went viral, as he confronted the member countries asking, “How many Jews live in your countries? How many Jews lived in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco?” To each nation he asked a simple question: “Where are your Jews?” (Photo credit: UN Watch.)

    INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

  • Yosef Yarden

    Cancer researcher

    “Professor Yosef Yarden is among the most important cancer researchers in the world,” the Israel Prize Committee stated when it gave him the 2017 honor in Life Science Research.

    Yarden, of the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, works at the highest level of his field, concentrating on immunotherapy approaches to fighting cancer. Specifically, he is studying how to create antibodies that will prevent cancerous growths from being able to reproduce within a patient’s body.

    “We started a way to block the growth factors [that enable] collaboration between the tumor and the host,” Yarden stated.

    When he received the EMET prize, it was noted that Yarden’s methods “paved the way for a new approach in the development of drugs that have been put into use and saved the lives of many cancer patients.”

    Yarden, a symbol of Israel’s prowess in the medical world, is unabashed about the importance of his research. “The future is very much in immunotherapy,” he says. (Photo credit: Israel Cancer Association.)

    INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM

  • Yossi Cohen

    Mossad director

    No intelligence agency in the world is as revered or as feared as Israel’s Mossad, and its current chief Yossi Cohen is proving to be both in keeping with this reputation and quite different from his predecessors.

    Cohen has served in the Mossad for decades, slowly rising through the ranks. After serving as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, he was appointed director of Mossad in 2015. Cohen is the first Mossad chief to be openly religious, a historic shift from the staunch secularism of his predecessors.

    Also notable are Cohen’s hawkish views on the threat from Iran, which places him in direct contrast to previous Mossad chiefs, several of whom publicly denounced the prime minister’s aggressive stance on Iran’s nuclear program and sought to thwart a possible military strike.

    Cohen has also set up a fund to encourage start-ups in the field of espionage technology and sought to recruit more women into the intelligence service. (Photo credit: Alchetron.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Danny Danon

    Israeli ambassador to the United Nations

    Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon has proven over the last year that Israel can fight and win at the often hostile international body through his election as vice-president of the UN General Assembly.

    Appointed UN envoy in 2015, Danon has served in numerous government positions, most prominently during six years as a member of Knesset with stints as deputy minister of defense and minister of science, technology, and space, as well as major roles at the Jewish Agency and the Likud party, where he lost a bid for leadership to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

    Celebrating victory in his campaign to become vice-president of the UNGA, he tweeted, “We've proven once again that Israel is able to serve in significant positions at the @UN & the attempts to block this progress won't succeed.” (Photo credit: World Likud.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Dani Dayan

    Consul general of Israel in New York

    Israel’s consul general in New York, Dani Dayan, is the settlement movement’s foremost advocate.

    Willfully controversial, he was rejected by Brazil when he was appointed ambassador to the country two years ago, but has adapted smoothly to the diplomatic role he plays in the Big Apple, speaking out eloquently on behalf Israel to the American public and winning the hearts and minds of those who don’t necessarily agree with his politics.

    An immigrant from Argentina, Dayan began his career as an early high-tech entrepreneur, but cashed out in favor of political activism. For six years, Dayan served the settlers as chairman of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization that represents the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, and as the council’s chief foreign envoy, earning Dayan the nickname of “the settlers’ foreign minister.”

    Asked whether former President Obama or the settlers won the political struggle over settlements, Dayan said, “There’s no doubt the Yesha Council won. … I am convinced that at some point in my tenure as chairman, the settlement in Judea and Samaria became irreversible.” (Photo credit: Amir Levy/Flash90.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Ron Dermer

    Israeli ambassador to the United States

    Nicknamed “Bibi’s Brain” by the press, Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer may be Prime Minister Netanyahu’s closest and most trusted adviser.

    As Israeli journalist Ari Shavit put it, “Netanyahu is probably the loneliest head of state one can imagine. There are very few people he truly trusts and appreciates, and Ron Dermer is one of them.”

    Son of a former mayor of Miami Beach, Dermer made aliyah in the 1990s and entered politics as an aide to Natan Sharansky. After Netanyahu fell from power for the first time in 1999, Dermer met the former and future prime minister and “we hit it off right away.”

    Dermer served as one of the architects of Netanyahu’s return to the prime minister’s office in 2009 and eventually became Israel’s ambassador to the US in 2013. As ambassador, Dermer helped manage a major crisis when Netanyahu spoke to Congress in a bid to stop the nuclear deal with Iran.

    Now close to the inner circles of the Trump administration, Dermer is poised to be a major power broker in both Israel and America. (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Gadi Eizenkot

    IDF chief of staff

    Descriptions of IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot always seem to involve words like modest, straightforward, honest, restrained, and principled.

    Born in Tiberias, the 57-year-old Eizenkot rose through the ranks from a commander in the elite Golani paratroops brigade to head of the Northern Command. There, he oversaw the rebuilding of the northern front after the inconclusive 2006 war with Hezbollah. With the Hezbollah danger always in mind, Eizenkot was chosen chief of staff in 2014.

    “No one is more worthy of this role than he is at this time," said fellow general Giora Inbar. “Gadi is an honest man, who is not afraid to speak his mind in public, and will always say what he thinks and act according to what he sees as right.”

    Eizenkot proved as much in 2017, when he faced down public controversy by commenting on an IDF soldier charged with murdering a neutralized Palestinian terrorist. “An 18-year-old man serving in the army is not ‘everyone’s child,’” he said. “He is a fighter, a soldier, who must dedicate his life to carry out the tasks we give him. We cannot be confused about this.” (Photo credit: IDF.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • David Friedman

    United States ambassador to Israel

    Newly-confirmed US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman arrived in Israel in May, 2017 and went straight to the Western Wall. It was appropriate for the contentious and controversial newcomer to diplomacy, whose sincere dedication to Israel is unquestionable.

    A former bankruptcy lawyer, Friedman was a Trump confidant for years before being tapped as ambassador role, which is of vital importance in the US-Israel relationship. His appointment stirred up passions in the Jewish community, as many saw him as too right-wing for their tastes and objected to some of his previous statements about left-wing Jews. At his confirmation hearing, Friedman apologized for previous comments and was approved in a relatively close vote.

    On his appointment, Friedman also expressed tacit support for moving the US in Israel, which is now located in Tel Aviv, saying he and his team were seeking to “strengthen the bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Michael Gove

    UK secretary of state for environment, food, and rural affairs

    Former British secretary of justice and currently secretary of state for environment, food, and rural affairs, Conservative MP Michael Gove is one of the most passionately pro-Israel politicians in the UK.

    In particular, Gove has been a leader in the fight against BDS, saying in 2017, “No other democracy is on the receiving end of a campaign calling for its people to be shunned and their labour to be blacklisted.”

    BDS, he asserted, “is antisemitism, impure and simple. It is the latest recrudescence of the age-old demand that the Jew can only live on terms set by others. Once Jews had to live in the ghetto, now they cannot live in their historic home.”

    He has also denounced the rise of antisemitism in Britain and pledged to fight it.

    Shortly after the election of President Donald Trump, Gove endorsed the idea of moving the British embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem should Trump do the same with the American embassy. (Photo credit: Paul Clarke.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Nikki Haley

    United States ambassador to the United Nations

    Former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley has remade herself over the past year into an unabashed warrior for the Jewish state in the diplomatic realm. As US ambassador to the UN, she has embarked on what is little less than a crusade against the institution’s anti-Israel bias.

    “I’m here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore,” she said at a press conference after a Security Council meeting. “I’m here to emphasize the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias.”

    Of the notoriously hostile UN Human Rights Council, Haley said, “The United States is looking carefully at this council and our participation in it. … It is essential that this council address its chronic anti-Israel bias if it is to have any credibility.”

    For herself, Haley is circumspect about her efforts. “All I did at the United Nations,” she said during a visit to Israel, “was tell the truth.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Isaac Herzog

    Knesset leader of the opposition

    Isaac Herzog may have just lost his position as head of the Labor party, but he remains head of the Knesset opposition and a determined activist for peace. “We have to present a vision of hope to both peoples, to their young generations, to our children and we can do it. We need simply to take bold steps,” he has said.

    Indeed, Herzog revealed in June 2017 that negotiations undertaken a year before under Egyptian auspices “yielded a document that would have changed the face of the Middle East,” though political considerations eventually torpedoed the effort.

    Herzog is also serving as something of an unofficial ambassador against BDS, which he believes can be defeated through collective action.

    “This is the role of the Jewish people. To unite, and work together, to combat outside threats,” he recently told the World Jewish Congress. This can be done “by telling the truth, by confronting the rivals or the enemies for that matter, with the weapon of truth, and presenting the real case for Israel, and explaining the root cause of the conflict and the solutions of the conflict.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Sajid Javid

    UK secretary of state for communities and local government

    Among the more courageous people in the world is the Muslim Zionist. Sure to be reviled by their own community, there are few of them and probably even fewer willing to speak out.

    Sajid Javid, a British member of Parliament and communities and local government secretary, is one of the notable exceptions. His support for Israel is full-throated and outspoken.

    In one speech celebrating Israel’s Independence Day in May 2017, Javid praised Israel’s start-up economy, its success in making the desert bloom, its resilience in the face of relentless violence, denounced the BDS movement as antisemitic, said Britain should be proud of the Balfour Declaration, and pledged to fight rising antisemitism in England.

    So passionate is Javid on the subject that, when an audience member at a 2012 speech remarked that he might run for prime minister, someone asked, “Of Britain or Israel?” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Jared Kushner

    Senior White House adviser

    In a meteoric rise that saw him go from real estate developer to special adviser to the president of the United States, Jared Kushner has made himself one of the most powerful and influential Jews in American history.

    Son of a dynasty of wealthy real estate developers, Kushner began in the family business with great success, then turned to newspaper publishing with his purchase of the “New York Observer,” putting the paper in the black after years of red.

    Along the way, Ivanka Trump converted to Orthodox Judaism to marry him, making him son-in-law of the soon-to-be most powerful man in the world. During the 2016 campaign, Kushner became one of Donald Trump’s top advisers, a role he continued in the new administration.

    With lifelong ties to Israel, Kushner was appointed Trump’s point man on the Middle East peace process. Most recently, he traveled to Israel and multiple Arab countries in preparation for a major diplomatic effort to finally broker what President Trump has called “the ultimate deal” – peace between the Jewish state and its Arabs neighbors. (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Avigdor Lieberman

    Defense minister of Israel

    When former foreign minister and head of Israel’s Yisrael Beiteinu party Avigdor Lieberman replaced the highly respected Moshe Yaalon as defense minister in 2016, there was a public uproar, with many believing the famously pugnacious right-winger would be a disaster.

    That hasn’t proven to be the case. The usually outspoken Lieberman has mostly kept his mouth shut, and has done little to break from his predecessor's generally moderate if still hawkish policies.

    All of this underlines the ambiguity of Lieberman as a public figure. Born in the Soviet Union, the former Likud activist formed the mostly-Russian Yisrael Beiteinu in opposition to the land-for-peace policy, but has since come out in favor of territorial compromise.

    Though deeply right-wing, he supports ending the Orthodox monopoly on religious affairs in Israel. He is pro-gay rights and has promoted them in the IDF while defense minister.

    Lieberman, in other words, despite decades of ferocious rhetoric, remains a political enigma. (Photo credit: Israeli government.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Mauricio Macri

    President of Argentina

    Since becoming president in December 2015, Mauricio Macri has ushered in a new era in his country’s relationship with its Jewish community – the largest in Latin America – and Israel.

    One of his first acts in office was annulling the memorandum of understanding his predecessor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, signed with Iran – an agreement that was widely viewed as an attempt to cover up the role the Tehran regime played in the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing in Buenos Aires.

    Macri is a proponent of further investigations into the attack and the unsolved 2015 death of Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor in the AMIA case who many believed was killed due to his effort to bring the truth to light.

    In September, Macri welcomed Prime Minister Netanyahu to Argentina on the first-ever visit there by a sitting Israeli prime minister. (Photo credit: Wikipedia.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Fulvio Martusciello

    Member of the European Parliament

    “For me as a non-Jew, Israel is about freedom, is about development and is about an example to our member states on how to make a living and facing existential threats every single day,” says Italian Member of the European Parliament Fulvio Martusciello, who has led the EU Parliament’s delegation for relations with Israel since 2014.

    The goal of the delegation is to foster ties with Israel on the parliamentary level, but Martusciello has gone beyond this. In 2017, he added an anti-BDS clause to the EU report on commercial competition, underlining “the need to fight against unfair collective boycotts, defined as a situation in which a group of competitors agree to exclude an actual or potential competitor, as restrictions of competition by object.”

    Though the EU is often perceived as hostile to Israel, Martusciello argues it does not have to be this way. “I believe that if we tell people in Europe about the real Israel,” he says, “its image will change and relations with the various countries will improve.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Narendra Modi

    Prime minister of India

    “My visit marks a path-breaking journey of engagement,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his hosts on his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport on July 4, 2017, opening a new era in relations between one of the world’s smallest democracies and its largest one.

    For decades, India and Israel had no diplomatic relations, but over the last 25 years, strong economic and military ties have developed between the two nations. Yet it was only with Modi’s visit that these relations finally stepped out into the full light of day.

    “Israel is a real friend,” Modi said. “I have really felt that feeling of kinship. I feel absolutely at home here.”

    As India’s “Economic Times” put it in a wide-ranging analysis, Modi’s visit “simultaneously redefined India’s external self, and vindicated Israel’s identity. … Banished are the overcautious, hypocritical and domestically poisoned lenses for approaching Israel, and ushered in are bold, dispassionate and objective ways of handling this key West Asian power.”

    One manifestation of the closer relationship has been at the UN, where India’s voting pattern has shifted away from being automatically in the anti-Israel camp. Also, more and more business is being done between Israeli and Indian companies and tourism numbers are skyrocketing. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Benjamin Netanyahu

    Prime minister of Israel

    As prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu stands at the forefront of all Israel’s accomplishments and achievements. Netanyahu is now poised to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister in 2018.

    Netanyahu’s achievements this year were many. Following an eight-year frosty relationship with former President Obama, Netanyahu met with newly-inaugurated President Trump at the White House in February, then welcomed the president to Israel on his first trip abroad a few months later. Netanyahu cultivated increasingly close ties with Arab states and welcomed India’s prime minister Narendra Modi on a historic visit to Israel. Relations with China and many African nations are also flourishing. At home, the economy remains stable and growing, while Netanyahu’s governing coalition shows little sign of collapse.

    During his time as prime minister, Netanyahu’s top priority has been maintaining Israel’s security, particularly against Palestinian terrorism and Iran’s nuclear ambitions and regional aggression. (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Michael ‘Mike’ Pence

    Vice president of the United States

    “On that day, a prophecy literally came to pass,” US Vice President Mike Pence said at a recent ceremony marking Israel’s Independence Day. Pence has shown the sincerity of this sentiment, serving as one of the most publicly pro-Israel members of the new administration.

    In particular, the vice president has worked to reassure sometimes skeptical audiences of Trump’s personal dedication to Israel’s cause.

    “Under President Donald Trump, let me assure you of this – if the world knows nothing else, the world will know this: America stands with Israel,” he has stated. “Every day in every week, the Jewish people’s dignity rebukes all who would condemn them, not for what they do wrong, but for what they do right.”

    In particular, Pence has singled out the Iranian nuclear threat, saying, “The United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. This is our solemn promise to you, to Israel, and to the world.”

    Pence has also been a strong advocate of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reassuring pro-Israel audiences that the president continues to consider it a priority despite delaying the move. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Charles ‘Chuck’ Schumer

    Senate minority leader

    “I believe Hashem, actually, gave me my name,” Senator Charles ‘Chuck’ Schumer once told an interviewer, “as one of my roles that is very important in the United States Senate is to be a shomer ['guardian'], a shomer for Israel, and I will continue to be that with every bone in my body.”

    Schumer has certainly remained true to his name. While the more extreme elements in the Democratic party have grown hostile to Israel, Schumer has become the de facto leader of his party’s pro-Israel camp. Most notably, he displayed rare political courage when he chose to oppose former President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

    The senator has shown no signs of slowing down this year. In June 2017 he publicly called on President Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, saying, “We ought to get it done once and for all,” and co-sponsored an anti-BDS bill in Congress. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Donald Trump

    President of the United States

    In one of the most improbable feats in modern American political history, real estate tycoon and TV personality Donald Trump became president of the United States in 2016.

    Despite a few bumps along the road, President Trump has mostly alleviated Jewish concerns over his populist, “America First” rhetoric. In particular, he has proven a stark contrast with his predecessor on Israel, who many saw as indifferent if not hostile to the Jewish state.

    Trump is seriously considering moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, promised “Iran will never have nuclear weapons,” and became the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall when he came to Israel in May.

    During his trip, Trump stated that Israel had “built one of the great civilizations: a strong, resilient, determined nation …forged in the commitment that we can never allow the horrors and atrocities of the last century to be repeated.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Ivanka Trump

    Senior White House adviser

    Perhaps the most famous and certainly the most powerful Jewish convert in the world, Ivanka Trump is both the “first daughter” and one of her father’s closest and most trusted advisers.

    A formidable businesswoman in her own right, Trump ran a successful jewelry company, then took a position in her father’s company and started her own fashion line before her father’s run for president catapulted her to the heights of American politics.

    Trump converted to Orthodox Judaism before she married Jared Kushner, now also a senior adviser to the president. She tends to remain private about her faith, but has said, “We’re pretty observant, more than some, less than others. I just feel like it's such an intimate thing for us. It’s been such a great life decision for me.”

    During her father’s official visit to Israel in May, Trump was photographed praying at the Western Wall, where she reportedly wept. “I am grateful to have experienced a deeply meaningful visit to the holiest site of my faith and to leave a private note of prayer,” she tweeted afterwards.

    Before last November’s election, Trump vowed to be an advocate for women and Israel. She also promised her father would be “an unbelievable champion for Israel and for the Jewish people. You will not be disappointed.”

    Asked what she cherished most about Judaism, Trump said, “Especially now being a parent, I deeply appreciate how it feels like everything about Judaism is architected to create connectivity and to create a grounding in what really matters.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Malcolm Turnbull

    Prime minister of Australia

    Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has not been shy about publicly backing Israel during his time in office.

    Following the passage last December of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which deemed Israeli settlements to be illegal, Turnbull stated, “My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel of the kind recently adopted by the Security Council and we ­deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

    Standing alongside Prime Minister Netanyahu in Sydney in February, Turnbull said of Australia-Israel ties, “We have so much in common – shared values, democracy, freedom, the rule of law. Two great democracies, one very small in area, one vast, but each of us big-hearted, generous, committed to freedom.”

    GOVERNMENT

  • Miloš Zeman

    President of the Czech Republic

    When recent UNESCO resolutions denied Israel and the Jewish people’s connection to Jerusalem and its holy sites, few bothered to condemn it – one of the exceptions was the Czech Republic, whose parliament unequivocally denounced the resolutions and officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

    Presiding over this extraordinary display of political courage was Miloš Zeman, president of the Czech Republic, who promptly sent a warm message to the Israeli embassy to mark Jerusalem Day, which celebrates the reunification of the city in 1967.

    Referencing Czechoslovakia’s supply of arms to Israel in 1948, Zeman said, “It was the Czechoslovak Republic that gave the helping hand to Israel in the difficult times. And in exchange, Israel with its vitality and pride encourages us in Europe where we face the evil of terrorism.”

    Zeman also expressed his belief that Israel must be supported “in the situation when the poisonous shoots of antisemitism once again started to take root on the European continent.” (Photo credit: Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces of the Czech Republic)

    GOVERNMENT

  • Ziv Aviram and Amnon Shashua

    Founders, Mobileye

    In the biggest such deal in Israel’s history, the vehicle technology company Mobileye was bought by Intel for $15.3 billion in March 2017. The primary beneficiaries were CEO Ziv Aviram and founder and chairman Amnon Shashua, two prime exemplars of Israel’s global reputation as a “start-up nation.”

    Mobileye uses almost impossibly sophisticated imaging and sensor technology to create what are essentially driverless vehicles, able to stay on course, avoid collisions, and warn passengers of potential problems. Intel considers the technology essential to its future growth as vehicles “progress from assisted driving to fully autonomous.”

    According to Shashua, however, his and Aviram’s motives are loftier. “What we want to is to change the world,” he said. “And the tie-up with Intel ensures this.” (Photo credit: Twitter).

    BUSINESS

  • Warren Buffett

    Investor

    The second richest man in the world, Warren Buffett is not one of the tribe, but he might have the best chance of becoming an honorary member.

    “Proportionally, if you look at the number of Jews in this country and in the world, I’m associated with a hugely disproportionate number,” he said, noting that he has been “blessed by friendship with many Jews.”

    Indeed, years ago Buffett joined a Jewish country club to protest against antisemitic discrimination.

    The billionaire has also shown a strong interest in the Israeli business sector, saying, “If you are looking for brains, energy and dynamism in the Middle East, Israel is the only place you need to go.”

    In 2017, Buffett launched a personal recruiting effort to encourage buying Israel Bonds, calling it “a sound investment and a deserved endorsement of a remarkable country.” (Photo credit: Stacie Kinney.)

    BUSINESS

  • Sheryl Sandberg

    Chief operating officer, Facebook

    Sheryl Sandberg, the Jewish COO of Facebook and author of “Lean In,” a manifesto that calls on working women not to abandon their dreams and ambitions, has become something of a feminist icon, proof that women can indeed “have it all.”

    In 2015, however, her life was touched by tragedy when her husband suddenly died on a family trip. After the traditional Jewish mourning period was over, she published a lengthy post on Facebook describing and wrestling with her grief. The response was massive, with over 74,000 comments, many from people describing their own experiences with loss. “After that, I didn’t feel alone anymore,” Sandberg says.

    Sandberg, who often talks about her Judaism, channeled all of this into her new book “Option B,” describing her experience and examining how others deal with such wrenching experiences. She credits the social network she runs with helping her through it all. “My friends told me when people passed away that Facebook became more important to them, but experiencing it myself was a totally different thing. What we do here really matters to me and I think matters even more,” she said. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.) 

    BUSINESS

  • David Hatchwell Altaras

    President of Madrid's Jewish community

    For well-known and infamous historical reasons, Spain’s Jewish community is a decidedly small one, yet it has produced one of the most dynamic Jewish leaders in Europe. David Hatchwell Altaras is president of the Jewish community in Madrid and has served in numerous Jewish organizations over the years, including Birthright, the Genesis Prize, and the Maccabi World Union, and has shown a strong interest in relations between Israel and China.

    Altaras has also been involved in combating antisemitism and the BDS movement, most notably ensuring that Jewish rapper Matisyahu could perform at a Spanish music festival despite racist attempts at canceling his show over his support for Israel. Of his outsized influence,
    Altaras says, “It doesn’t matter how big or small you are; it’s all about your attitude.”

    Asked about his understanding of Judaism,
    Altaras simply replied, “Judaism is Faith, Commitment and Free Will at once.” (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Sandra Arroyo Salgado

    Judge, ex-wife of Alberto Nisman

    Sandra Arroyo Salgado has become the keeper of the flame for her ex-husband, the late Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman. Chief investigator of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, which killed 85 people, Nisman fingered Iran as the culprit and accused then-President Christina Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman of colluding with the Islamic republic.

    The night before he was due to testify before congress on the matter, Nisman was found shot to death in his apartment. The incident was almost instantly ruled a suicide, which nearly no one believed, and it is now widely assumed that he was murdered. By who remains an open question.

    Arroyo Salgado, herself a federal judge, has led something of a one-woman campaign to find the answer. She continues to insist in both domestic and foreign media that her ex-husband was murdered and the Argentinean government is covering up the crime. In 2017, she went so far as to meet with the pope, who expressed support for her efforts. (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

    COMMUNITY

  • David Brog

    Executive director, Maccabee Task Force

    As founding director of Christians United for Israel and executive director of the Maccabee Task Force, David Brog has been fighting for Israel and mobilizing its supporters, Jewish and non-Jewish, for decades. This year he took on a new challenge: fighting anti-Israel bias and racism on college campuses.

    Among his contributions to the cause is his new book “Reclaiming Israel’s History: Roots, Rights, and the Struggle for Peace,” which seeks to refute the anti-Israel propaganda, lies, and defamation rife on campuses today.

    “Through my work with CUFI and the Maccabee Task Force, I’ve been educating college-age students and young people about the conflict for years,” Brog says. “What I learned years ago was that most kids, Jewish and Christian, have very little knowledge of the real history.”

    His book sets out this history and gives students the “knowledge to be able to win the hearts and minds of students who are being inundated by lies taught in classrooms.” (Photo credit: Maxine Dovere.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Stuart & Robbi Force

    Activists

    Out of their grief, Stuart and Robbi Force have forged a crusade against one of the nastiest practices of the Palestinian Authority: the payment of blood money to terrorists and their families.

    “Like the American public, we were not educated until something happened,” says Robbi Force. That something was the brutal 2016 murder of their son Taylor by a Palestinian terrorist while on a trip to Israel.

    Taylor, a West Point graduate and veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq who was 28 at the time of his death, is the namesake of the Taylor Force Act, a bill now making its way through the Senate that would cut funding to the Palestinian Authority until it ceases paying salaries to terrorists and their families.

    Stuart Force says he and his wife’s campaign for the bill “does help us focus, rather than just walking around the house looking at the pictures – ‘I remember when we did this. I remember when we did that.’”

    In August 2017, the bill passed a critical committee vote and is now set to go before the full Senate. (Photo credit: Facebook).

    COMMUNITY

  • Gilles-William Goldnadel

    Founder and chairman, Lawyers Without Borders

    A prominent French-Jewish lawyer and writer who is now representing the family of murdered pensioner Sarah Halimi, Gilles-William Goldnadel is one of the most outspoken supporters of Israel and opponents of antisemitism in France.

    Founder and chairman of the group Lawyers Without Borders, which fights discrimination and advocates for human rights, and head of the Association France-Israel, Goldnadel has angered both left and right, and even the French Jewish establishment itself, through his oft-controversial opinions and activism.

    In particular, Goldnadel agitates against what he has called "Islamo-Nazism" and "Islamo-Leftism,” which he regards as the foremost antisemitic danger to the Jews of France. As a result, he has often criticized mainstream Jewish organizations, especially the umbrella group CRIF, of which he was once a member, of indulging Muslim and leftist antisemites.

    For all of this, Goldnadel has branded himself a “combat Jew,” a reputation he continues to live up to. (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Pinchas Goldschmidt

    President, Conference of European Rabbis

    The president of the Conference of European Rabbis and chief rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt has the unenviable task of dealing with the Jewish community on a continent in crisis.

    First, there is the danger posed by secular forces who want to ban religious rituals like traditional kosher slaughter.

    Then there is the rise of populist and nationalist forces. As Goldschmidt says, “Jews always felt more comfortable in places where other cultures and religions were respected. At the moment when an ultra-nationalist wind begins to blow, it makes Jews, as a minority, uncomfortable.”

    Finally, there is the ever-growing threat of radical Islam, which the rabbi hopes can be combated by religious understanding. “We are the last ones to say it is not a problem,” he states. “But what we are saying is that you don’t counter and fight Islamic terrorism by fighting Islam. It’s extremely important to mark a red line between normative Islam and radicalism and terrorism using the name of Islam.” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Malcolm Hoenlein

    CEO, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

    For three decades, Malcolm Hoenlein has served as the public face of Jewish organizational life in the United States as CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The supremely influential Hoenlein serves as what has been called “Mr. American Jewry.”

    Today, Hoenlein is particularly concerned with the rise of Islamic extremism and antisemitism both at home and abroad.

    Regarding Islamic radicalism, Hoenlein notes, “When I started speaking in the late 1980s about the danger of Islamic fundamentalism, people thought I belonged in the loony bin. After 9/11, I literally got hundreds and hundreds of letters from people saying, We apologize. We just didn’t see it. We didn’t get it.”

    Regarding antisemitism, Hoenlein asserts, “It must be treated like all other forms of racism and bigotry. I want people in America to act before it becomes like Europe.”

    Hoenlein believes the best way to do so is by bringing world leaders together in a “global summit” to combat the phenomenon. (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Susan Julien-Levitt

    Co-founder and executive director, Alums for Campus Fairness

    Susan Julien-Levitt is co-founder and executive director of one of the more effective anti-BDS organizations on college campuses. Alums for Campus Fairness organizes alumni to fight the BDS movement and a general atmosphere of anti-Israel hostility.

    The group began at Vassar when alumni witnessed a violently anti-Israel event, and has now spawned 16 other groups at schools like Oberlin and UCLA. The organization “works to promote an intellectually vibrant college experience while identifying and countering the antisemitism that has infected many campuses, often in the form of anti-Zionism.”

    Julien-Levitt herself has lamented the attacks on Israel “as a human rights abuser worthy of pariah status while ignoring the substantial ongoing human rights abuses occurring in Israel’s neighboring countries.”

    Citing one BDS-supporting academic, she said the “apparent belief that academics and academic institutions should be shunned based on the policies of their governments shows a disregard for the fundamental principles of academic freedom.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Francis Kalifat

    President, Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions

    “What an awful feeling to have to be forever vigilant, attempting to fade into the background. What an agonizing feeling to follow a solitary path, deprived of the solidarity of our compatriots,” said Francis Kalifat, president of CRIF, in a 2017 speech.

    As head of France’s umbrella Jewish organization, Kalifat is facing a daunting task. As he himself put it, “The fight against antisemitism is our main cause because French Jews are in the most difficult situation they have experienced since World War II.”

    This antisemitism, he says, is coming from two main sources: The far-left and the Muslim community, in both of which “we see this new antisemitism advancing under the guise of anti-Zionism.”

    Most recently, Kalifat has taken up the cause of Sarah Halimi, who was murdered by a Muslim neighbor in what many French Jews believe was an antisemitic murder, though the authorities refuse to consider it as such. “Why this silence?” Kalifat asked. “Why this denial of antisemitism?” (Photo credit: Twitter)

    COMMUNITY

  • Moshe Kotlarsky

    Vice chairman, Chabad’s Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch

    As vice chairman of Chabad’s Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, which supervises the work of shluchim (emissaries) all over the globe, Moshe Kotlarsky oversees one of the most successful Jewish outreach programs in the world.

    As it is often said, wherever you find Coca Cola you also find Chabad. The shluchim constitute a global network of emissaries that help Jews in often remote places to practice their faith, and seek to encourage a return to religiosity among the secular.

    “I think that a Chabad shaliach has a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging,” Kotlarsky says as a way of explaining the project’s success. “Every one of our shluchim has a DD degree — not a Doctor of Divinity but a Doctor of Dedication and Devotion. When you go out with that degree and you’re bound to an ideology and you’re inoculated by the teachings of the Rebbe; that is the sole root of the success that is going on.” (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Yehuda Krinsky

    Chairman, Chabad’s Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch

    “The magnitude of what the Rebbe created and inspired to this very day is obvious to any observer, and it will continue in perpetuity,” says Yehuda Krinsky, the chairman of Chabad’s Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch.

    Chabad today is the most public and, in many ways, most successful Chasidic sect in the world. Krinsky and the board of Merkos oversee the wide Chabad network and its expansion throughout the world.

    As a result, “Newsweek” named him America’s most influential rabbi in 2010, and the "Daily Beast" named him number three in 2013. (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Mark B. Levin

    Executive vice chairman, National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry

    Washington adviser to the World Jewish Congress and executive vice chairman and CEO of the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, Mark B. Levin is one of the foremost Western activists on behalf of the Jews of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

    An expert on Soviet Jewry and antisemitism, Levin has been involved in these issues for decades. He has labored on behalf of often forgotten communities, receiving awards for his service from the Russian Jewish Community Foundation and the Ukrainian president.

    Most recently, Levin made an impassioned plea for President Trump to retain a State Department special envoy on antisemitism, writing, “It’s a position that allows our country to lead by example. And it has inspired other nations to follow suit in making the eradication of antisemitism a priority.” (Photo credit: NCSEJ.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Lillian Pinkus

    President, AIPAC

    The first female president of AIPAC in a decade, Lillian Pinkus is faced with some formidable challenges; in particular, the rise of divisive and polarizing politics in the US.

    Pinkus came into office in 2016 pledging to expand and diversify the powerful lobby, saying, “We need to grow the number of people who are involved in AIPAC and we need to grow the number of people that are involved in pro-Israel politics.”

    But at the 2016 annual policy conference, then-candidate Donald Trump’s criticism of President Obama caused upheaval, prompting an emotional disavowal from Pinkus.

    At the 2017 conference, Pinkus repeated her admonitions and a warning as well. “Support for Israel is not immune” from the intense partisanship of American politics, she said. “Elements on each side of the aisle are trying to fracture our movement.” She urged Israel supporters to “work harder than ever before to hold the ideological center.” (Photo credit: AIPAC.)

    COMMUNITY

  • David Schizer

    Executive vice president and CEO, Joint Distribution Committee

    The new head of the venerable Jewish charity the Joint Distribution Committee, David Schizer has never been anything less than accomplished.

    Born in Brooklyn, he served as dean of Columbia Law School, the youngest man ever to do so, and took a leadership role in Jewish institutions like the Ramaz school and the 92nd Street Y. In 2017 he was interviewed for the office of Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy by the incoming Trump administration.

    “Every Jewish family has a history of poverty, religious persecution, or violence –
    the only difference is how long ago it was. For me personally, it is profoundly meaningful to be appointed CEO of an extraordinary organization that has been a lifeline to Jews in their hour of need, and that renews Jewish life throughout the world,” Schizer said of his new office at the JDC.

    One particular area of concentration for Schizer is aiding the small but growing Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. (Photo credit: JDC.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Michael Joseph Schudrich

    Chief rabbi of Poland

    As Chief rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich finds himself presiding over what he calls “a tiny community struggling with reasserting its Jewish identity and with the historic responsibility of preserving a glorious past.”

    Indeed, Schudrich has found that one of his major tasks is reconnecting what is essentially a community of modern marranos with their own heritage. Due to the Holocaust and then decades of communist rule, many Polish Jews who survived hid their identity from others, including their own children.

    “We don’t know how many behaved so, but estimates are that there were tens of thousands,” says Schudrich, so many, in fact, that a hotline was set up for people who think they might be Jewish. Since the fall of communism, he adds, “thousands of Poles have discovered their Jewish roots.”

    In July 2017, Schudrich accompanied Ivanka Trump to lay a wreath at a memorial to the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Natan Sharansky

    Chairman, Jewish Agency for Israel

    For eight years, Natan Sharansky has overseen Israel-diaspora relations as head of the Jewish Agency. Tasked with maintaining connections with Jewish communities around the world, as well as fostering Aliyah and public diplomacy, the former Soviet Prisoner of Zion, refusenik leader, and leading politician has by most accounts done an excellent job, with the Agency asking him in 2017 to serve an extra year as chairman.

    This year, Sharansky has been tasked with managing two potential crises: the sudden freeze of a plan to create an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall and a controversy regarding the recognition of conversions by the Israeli rabbinate. “Although I was skeptical of the value of remaining for an additional year, what has taken place in recent months has convinced me that it is important that I remain,” he said.

    Sharansky warned of the cost of the growing rift between Israel and the diaspora, saying, “I do believe that we can overcome these (current) crises. I’m not sure we will be able to restore this type of relationship and trust. And that’s a big loss.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    COMMUNITY

  • Sheldon Adelson

    Philanthropist

    Owner of the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Sheldon Adelson is famous for his philanthropy and political involvement.

    Growing up in poverty in Massachusetts, Adelson’s business acumen made him a billionaire, and he has become one of the biggest donors to Jewish causes in the world. Among the programs he has sponsored is one of the most successful, Birthright Israel, which takes young Jews from across the globe on free trips to Israel. Adelson’s donations to the program have amounted to $160 million over the years. His latest initiative, the Maccabee Task Force, seeks to combat anti-Israel and antisemitic activity on college campuses.

    Adelson’s involvement in Jewish and pro-Israel causes is also political, with donations to pro-Israel candidates that have made him a major power broker in the Republican party. (Photo credit: Courtesy.)

    PHILANTHROPY

  • Sander Gerber

    Hedge fund manager

    Sander Gerber, chief executive and investment officer at Hudson Bay Capital Management, has turned himself into a highly effective activist on one issue: Ending the Palestinian Authority’s payments to terrorists and their families.

    Gerber became aware of the practice after American veteran Taylor Force was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel.

    Gerber put his financial skills to good use by going “line-by-line” through the PA’s official budget. What he discovered shocked him. It “enabled me to understand that the PA had created an infrastructure to indoctrinate, reward and incentivize their people to become terrorists. When I learned that the PA had laws to kill the Jews, I couldn’t sleep at night.”

    He turned his sleeplessness into action, helping push the Taylor Force Act, which would cut funds to the PA unless it ends the practice, into the public consciousness. The act is now set for a full Senate vote. “Without Sander Gerber,” said one Washington insider, “this wouldn’t have happened.” (Photo credit: Screenshot/AIPAC video.)

    PHILANTHROPY

  • Bob Kraft

    Philanthropist

    In Israel, “football” means soccer; that is, until now. The popularity of “American football” is growing in the Jewish state, largely through the efforts of Bob Kraft, owner of the five-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

    To encourage the growth of the sport, Kraft recently donated $6 million toward building Israel’s first regulation-sized football stadium in Jerusalem.

    Kraft’s dedication to Israel is deep and profound. As he said on one visit, “This isn’t a business trip. It’s something about spirituality.”

    He and his family have sponsored numerous philanthropical projects in Israel, many related to sports, as well as trips that bring prominent football players to visit the Jewish state.

    “I love America, and I’m so lucky to have been born there and be a US citizen, but when I came here I also learned that this place was so special,” Kraft said during a September 2017 visit. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    PHILANTHROPY

  • Ronald Lauder

    President, World Jewish Congress

    President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder is one of the most influential Jewish figures in the world.

    Heir to the Estee Lauder fortune, Lauder helped revive Jewish communities in Europe and the Soviet Union, aided Benjamin Netanyahu at the beginning of his political career, and served as chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations before becoming WJC head in 2007.

    As one commentator noted, as WJC chief, Lauder has “access to major global leaders and statesmen, as well as the heads of moderate Arab states. He liaises closely with Israeli leaders and has assumed a crucial role in the struggle against the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement and global antisemitism.”

    Most recently, Lauder has become an unofficial liaison between the Trump administration, the Netanyahu government, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

    PHILANTHROPY

  • Gerald Ronson

    Founding chairman, Community Security Trust

    Gerald Ronson, CBE is perhaps Britain’s most prominent Jewish philanthropist. Head of the massive Heron International property development company, he is the founding chairman of the Community Security Trust, one of the country’s most essential Jewish organizations.

    As Ronson himself describes it, CST’s work covers physical security, political research, and helping victims of antisemitism. … Jewish organizations, schools, synagogues, old-age homes, welfare centers, community centers, and communal events have CST secure their activities.”

    Ronson warns of the rise of anti-Jewish racism in the Muslim community and the far-left, saying that if the Labor party’s anti-Israel leader Jeremy Corbyn is elected, “You’ll see an increase in antisemitism,” making it uncomfortable “for Jews who want to live their lives in the UK as fully identified Jews, and not be uncomfortable if they were wearing a kippah or tzitzit as they walk down the high street without being attacked in some form or another.” (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

    PHILANTHROPY

  • Haim Saban

    Entertainment mogul

    Billionaire entertainment mogul Haim Saban is one of America’s staunchest supporters of Israel and godfather of its support in the Democratic party.

    Saban was born in Egypt, grew up in Israel, and became a media giant through Saban Entertainment with shows like the children’s adventure program “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.” He also owns media outlets like the Spanish-language network Univision.

    “As an Israeli-American I am always concerned about the well-being of Israel,” Saban says. He sponsors, for example, AIPAC’s Saban National Political Leadership Training Seminar, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, and numerous fundraising activities inside and outside of Hollywood.

    He is also a chief supporter of the Democratic party and was a major donor to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Following Clinton’s loss, he helped prevent the election of Keith Ellison to head of the DNC, saying, “If you go back to his positions, his papers, his speeches, the way he has voted, he is clearly an antisemite and anti-Israel individual.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    PHILANTHROPY

  • Warren Goldstein

    Chief rabbi of South Africa

    The chief rabbi of South Africa since 2005, Warren Goldstein walks a delicate line in a country still struggling with the legacy of apartheid. On the one hand, Jews are accepted as part of South African culture; on the other, the ruling ANC party still remains often hostile to Israel and Zionism.

    In 2017, Goldstein distinguished himself by calling for South Africa’s Jewish community to join in protests against President Jacob Zuma, who was accused of corruption.

    “Say no to corruption and state capture,” said Goldstein. “Let us make our voices heard through the length and breadth of this country to say that we do not want a country of injustice and corruption. Let us be free from the tyranny of corruption, let us be free to create the country of our dreams.”

    Goldstein is known for his communal initiatives, including the Shabbat Project, which has become an annual event in which Jews of all backgrounds from across the world observe one Sabbath together. (Photo credit: Office of Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein.)

    RELIGION

  • Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

    Chief rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth

    Since 2013, Ephraim Mirvis has served as the chief rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth. He has been an outspoken advocate of Jewish unity and the State of Israel.

    He grew up in South Africa, and has been a vociferous critic of the “apartheid slander” against Israel, saying, “The difference between the two countries could scarcely be more stark” and calling the claim “a comparison that is entirely false; a grave insult to those who suffered under apartheid; and a tragic obstacle to peace.”

    He has also concentrated on expanding roles for women in the Jewish community and building up communities in the UK provinces. (Photo credit: Kinloss.)

    RELIGION

  • Jonathan Sacks

    Author and theologian

    Perhaps the most widely-known rabbi in Europe, Lord Jonathan Sacks has been at the forefront of Jewish life in Britain for decades.

    The former chief rabbi of Britain and a noted writer, speaker, and moralist, Sacks believes in a balance between the universal and particular values of Judaism, and sees the Torah as offering a moral vision applicable to the current world, while also drawing lessons from non-Jewish thinkers and interfaith dialogue.

    This world is one he sees as undergoing drastic change. “We are going through one of the most profound revolutions in all of human history,” he says, “and I sum it up with a single phrase: cultural climate change,” in which the West is losing its monopoly over the hearts and minds of people around the globe.

    Sacks advocates religious engagement with the wider society in order to solve this problem, bringing a new spirituality to modern life in which, “We might just find we can keep our feet in society and our head in religion.” (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

    RELIGION

  • Meir Soloveichik

    Senior rabbi, Congregation Shearith Israel

    Scion of a rabbinic dynasty, Meir Soloveichik was thrust into the public eye when he gave the opening invocation at the Republican National Convention in 2012.

    Called the “rabbi-in-chief of the Republican party,” Soloveichik is the great nephew of the revered Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, one of the most influential thinkers of the modern Orthodox movement.

    Since 2013, Soloveichik has been the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City, a Sephardic institution that is the oldest synagogue in the US.

    He pursues his conservative thinking through prolific writing for conservative journals like “First Things” and “Commentary,” while participating in activist events like the March for Life. (Photo credit: Congregation Shearith Israel.)

    RELIGION

  • David Stav

    Chairman, TZOHAR

    In a nation dominated by a monolithic religious establishment, Rabbi David Stav leads a remarkable movement. Tzohar is dedicated to forming what is essentially a parallel rabbinate in Israel, one that offers Israelis a more moderate and less onerous option for religious services.

    Tzohar sees its mission as “nurturing moderate, rabbinic leadership and shaping public policy” in opposition to a “bureaucratic, dysfunctional and highly political” religious monopoly.

    Saying that he fears secular Israelis may leave the country because of their experiences with the ultra-Orthodox monopoly over the rabbinate, Stav says his organization is “the ultimate address, the alternative for those Jews who want to be engaged with Judaism but don’t want to be connected to the establishment. I want all Jewish people to feel that Israel is their place.” (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.)

    RELIGION

  • Adi Altschuler

    Social entrepreneur

    By the time she was barely out of her teens, Adi Altschuler was already one of Israel’s leading social entrepreneurs.

    At the age of 12, Altschuler began caring for a young boy with cerebral palsy. Realizing he had little opportunity for social interaction, she founded a new youth movement called Krembo Wings, which teams teenage counsellors with special needs children who can then interact together.

    She didn’t stop there. Feeling that something was lacking in Israel’s observance of Holocaust Memorial Day, she founded Memories@Home, which brings Israelis together in their homes with survivors who then tell their stories.

    In recognition of her work, Altschuler was listed by “Time” magazine as a future world leader in 2014.

    Altschuler is now head of Google’s Economic Platform in Israel. “Most of my life, I had failures,” she says. “But as long as you persist in what you believe in and you have a sense that you serve a higher purpose, then I think every barrier and every challenge can motivate you to continue.” (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    TOMORROW

  • Ollie Anisfeld

    Founder, J-TV

    Oliver Anisfeld has become a Jewish new media mogul at the ripe old age of 22, having launched the British-based YouTube channel J-TV.

    Anisfeld says the idea for the channel came because of a “gap in the market. … There was an apathy about Jewish identity. My idea was to create a new, high quality, online global Jewish media channel.”

    Faced with disinterest, Anisfeld barreled his way into the office of Lord Kestenbaum, a Jewish peer, and quickly convinced him to support the idea. Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks also embraced the project.

    The purpose of the channel, Anisfeld states, is “to engage both Jews and non-Jews who want to understand Jewish culture.” (Photo credit: YouTube screenshot.)

    TOMORROW

  • Craig Dershowitz

    Executive director, Artists 4 Israel

    Craig Dershowitz is executive director of one of the most unique pro-Israel organizations in the world. Artists 4 Israel uses avant-garde art projects to show the human side of the Jewish state and bring “beauty, healing, and protection to communities and people ravished by fighting.”

    The group was founded during the 2009 Gaza war when a group of Israel supporters put on a charity exhibition to raise money for bomb shelters.

    There, says Dershowitz, “Hundreds of people came and these were young, cool, diverse New York trendsetters who had never experienced an Israel-related event before. We realized quickly that we had a chance and an obligation to this community to be the voice of Israel.”

    The group has undertaken such tasks as painting murals on bomb shelters in the often-bombarded city of Sderot.

    “There tends to be a misconception that the arts community is liberal and as such doesn’t support Israel. The truth is that those who do are oftentimes silent,” Dershowitz says. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    TOMORROW

  • Noa Regev

    CEO, Jerusalem Film Festival

    When Noa Regev took over as CEO of the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2013, the annual event was in deep disarray following the departure of its founder Lia Van Leer.

    “This festival had glorious days where everyone who was important in cinema attended, and it was a symbol of free culture and coexistence in a city that should stand for that,” Regev said at the time. “I look at what Lia did, and I want to do the same.”

    She succeeded. The festival is now once again a must for the Israeli film industry and fans around the country.

    In particular, Regev has concentrated on restoring the over 30,000 movies in Israel’s film archive, which she calls a “national treasure.” In 2017, a major restoration was done on “Seige,” a classic drama about a woman’s recovery from her husband’s death in the Six Day War.

    “It’s proof,” Regev commented, “of how many unbelievable treasures will be found.” (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    TOMORROW

  • David Collier

    Blogger and activist

    A pro-Israel online researcher and commentator, David Collier is notable for his strong stomach. He not only argues with anti-Zionists and antisemites, he examines their ideology, claims, and writings in excruciating detail, relentlessly going back to the sources to fact-check every one of their accusations.

    Collier lived in Israel for two decades, and has maintained contacts across the political spectrum. On his website, he posts detailed research and rebuttals of Israel’s detractors, venturing into some of the darkest corners of the Internet where neo-Nazis and supporters of terrorism are lurking, even arguing with Holocaust deniers.

    His work places special emphasis on revisionist histories of Israel and particularly the BDS movement, which he says is an existential threat because it “destroys any possibility of mutual empathy between Israelis and Palestinians, making peace impossible. Increasingly, it is also making any mutual empathy between gentiles and Jews impossible.” (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    VOICES

  • Alan Dershowitz

    Legal scholar

    The famously combative legal scholar and pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz has had an eventful year.

    It started with a bang when he renounced his support for President Obama after the administration abstained from a UN vote on Israeli settlements, saying Obama told him he would always have Israel’s back, but “I didn't realize what he meant is that he would have their back to stab them.”

    As the battle between the alt-right and the far-left intensified in the US, Dershowitz declared a pox on both their houses, saying they share an antipathy toward the Jews.

    “This implicit tolerance of antisemitism - as long as it comes from someone whose other views are acceptable - represents a dangerous new trend from both the Right and Left,” he asserted.

    One of the most vocal pro-Israel Democrats, Dershowitz has sought to maintain support for the Jewish state within the party. Ahead of the DNC chairmanship election in February, Dershowitz threatened to leave the party if Congressman Keith Ellison – with his checkered record on Israel – won the post. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    VOICES

  • Larry Elder

    Media personality

    Popular conservative pundit Larry Elder is a passionate and dedicated defender of Israel and the Jews across many media platforms.

    Elder first visited Israel in 1973, and he regularly hails the small country’s military victories over its enemies and the millennia of Jewish history in the Land of Israel.

    Of Israel’s opponents, he often says they know “jack about the conflict” and marvels at “how you can passionately hold a position and be so profoundly ignorant.”

    An African-American, Elder also emphasizes and celebrates the Jewish contribution to the civil rights struggle.

    In 2017, Elder and fellow conservative pundit Dennis Prager are hosting a "Stand With Israel" tour marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    VOICES

  • Terry Glavin

    Author and journalist

    A regular columnist for Canada’s "National Post," Terry Glavin is an outspoken supporter of Israel in a country that sometimes displays indifference to the Jewish state.

    Something of a Canadian neoconservative, Glavin advocates for a hawkish, though sensible, approach to foreign policy. He has written strongly against the Iranian regime, itemized Syrian war crimes, and defended Israel’s cause against its enemies.

    In recent articles he has chronicled how Israel is treating wounded Syrians, spoken out against appeasement of Iran, written sympathetically of Israel’s relations with the incoming Trump administration, and slammed the BDS movement, whose “objective is to end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”

    In May 2017, Glavin gave the keynote speech at the CIJA Israel Advocacy Symposium. (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    VOICES

  • Kasim Hafeez

    Outreach coordinator, Christians United for Israel

    “I was born to hate Jews,” says Kasim Hafeez. The British-born Muslim of Pakistani descent had to fight for years to overcome the brutal antisemitism he grew up with.

    He remembers his father praising Hitler, members of his community “calling for the destruction of all Jews,” and after long indoctrination considered becoming a terrorist himself.

    Then he read Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case for Israel,” which set him on the path to becoming a “Muslim Zionist” and strong supporter of Israel. He went to visit the country and, at first, looked for “indications of racial segregation, a sign saying ‘Arabs only.’ I couldn’t find any.”

    Today, Hafeez is an advocate for Israel, believing that Israel must become better at making its case and combatting general ignorance about the Jewish state and the Arab-Israeli conflict. (Photo credit: Maxine Dovere.)

    VOICES

  • Gretchen Rachel Hammond

    Tablet Magazine reporter

    One does not expect to be the object of a racist smear campaign from an LGBT organization, but it happened to Gretchen Rachel Hammond. The former reporter for the “Windy City Times” was the subject of a brutal intimidation campaign and ultimately lost her job for daring to report on an antisemitic incident at the Chicago Dyke March, where a group of Jewish demonstrators were kicked out for waving Star of David flags.

    As soon as the story broke, Hammond received threats in which she was called a “kike” and was ultimately tossed from the paper.

    The organizers of the Dyke March celebrated with a racist tweet that aped David Duke’s expression “Zios” to describe Jews – “Zio tears replenish my electrolytes.”

    With considerable grace, Hammond replied, “You attacked, humiliated and robbed me of a job. No tears. I forgive you. Just hope you learn how destructive and pointless hatred is.”

    Fortunately, the Jewish community has not let Hammond’s persecution go unanswered. Hammond now writes for “Tablet Magazine" and was embraced by this publication. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    VOICES

  • Jenna Jameson

    Former adult film star

    Once the biggest adult film star in the world, Jenna Jameson transformed herself over the past year into one of the world’s top converts to Judaism. Born Catholic, the legendary Jameson embraced Judaism when she met her fiancé, Israeli-born businessman Lior Bitton.

    She quickly became one of the most outspoken defenders of Judaism, Israel, and the Jewish people on social media, tweeting constant statements of support for Israel and Zionism, pictures of the Jewish food she cooks for her husband, and lashing out at antisemites across the spectrum; most notably, in a knock down, drag out fight with notorious former Klansman and ferocious antisemite David Duke.

    “I’ve been a warrior all my life,” she said. “Now I am applying my strength to defending the Jewish people and Israel.”

    It appears Jameson is putting her money where her mouth is, expressing the desire to move to Israel after her marriage. In the meantime, she has given birth to her and Bitton’s first child. (Photo credit: Instagram.)

    VOICES

  • Allison Josephs

    Blogger and activist

    Showing people that “Orthodox Jews can be funny, approachable, educated, pro-women, and open-minded” is the mission of Jew In the City, a multi-media endeavor undertaken by Allison Josephs, who hopes “To break down stereotypes about religious Jews and offer a humorous, meaningful look into Orthodox Judaism.”

    Inspired by the groundbreaking web series lonelygirl15, Josephs began her initiative in 2007, which employs YouTube videos, blogs, and social media to reveal Orthodox life in the 21st century to a larger audience of Jews and non-Jews.

    Raised secular, she came to Orthodoxy after a mystical experience in Hawaii. “The Torah has to be the guiding line,” she says of her newfound faith. “I believe the Torah is truth and you can experience those truths in the larger world.”

    Among the partners on her journey is fellow J100 lister and “Big Bang Theory” actress Mayim Bialik, with whom she studies Torah. (Photo credit: Jewinthecity.com.)

    VOICES

  • Meir Kay

    Social media activist

    A playful, positive, and often thoughtful and uplifting Internet personality, Meir Kay has channeled the lessons of the Chabad movement into a series of wildly popular YouTube videos.

    Ordained as a rabbi, and with over 1.2 million Facebook followers, Kay ping pongs around New York City staging humorous stunts like bringing out a full-size bed for stressed New Yorkers to jump on or holding a “silent rave” at the office of the Department of Motor Vehicles. He then uploads videos of the events to YouTube and Facebook. The combined views of his videos have now totaled in the hundreds of millions, making Kay one of the world’s most visible Jewish social media personalities.

    Kay sees his mission as spreading joy and positive energy to others, saying, “Seeing stern, focused faces transform into a smile and laugh is priceless. I feed off that positive energy and it makes all the effort that goes into producing and creating the scenarios worth it.”

    “People now, more than ever, are searching and yearning for inspiration and guidance for hope and happiness, and I hope my work can help with that,” he adds. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    VOICES

  • Eli Lake

    Journalist

    Eli Lake is one of the most prominent national security correspondents in the United States. He has reported for outlets like the “Daily Beast,” the “New Republic,” and currently “Bloomberg View.”

    While he is scrupulously non-partisan, Lake’s reporting often contradicts the larger media narrative surrounding national security issues, taking an objective view of Israel and its security policies, exposing flaws in then-president Obama’s claims about the Benghazi attack, and uncovering uncomfortable facts about pro-Iran lobbyists in the US.

    In a typical recent column, Lake went deeper into the ramifications of the Temple Mount protests, in contrast to many media outlets who simply reiterated Palestinian talking points. “The greater danger to one of Islam’s holiest places these days,” he wrote, “comes from the Palestinian fanatics who claim to be fighting for its reclamation. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    VOICES

  • Bernard Henri Lévy

    Philosopher

    “I was always proud to be Jewish,” says French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. “I always believed it was a source of glory, never anything to question or be ashamed of.”

    The hugely influential, provocative, and oft-controversial thinker was one of the founders of the New Philosophers, who criticized the far left beginning in the 1970s, and has become famous for his humanitarian work in areas like Bosnia, Sudan, Libya, and Kurdistan. His is also one of the most prominent pro-Israel voices in an often-hostile Europe.

    “My relationship to Judaism is the most important thread of my life as a committed intellectual,” he says, and in 2017, his magnum opus on the subject, “The Genius of Judaism” was published in English.

    In it, he advocates an “affirmational Judaism” based in positive action and profound contemplation, saying, “When Gaon of Vilnius had to choose between a lazy student who believes and an ardent, vibrant student who doubts, he says that he prefers the second. So do I.” (Photo credit: Screenshot.)

    VOICES

  • Rupert Murdoch

    Chairman, News Corporation

    “Over the years, some of my wildest critics seem to have assumed I am Jewish,” Rupert Murdoch said when he accepted an award from the American Jewish Committee. “At the same time, some of my closest friends wish I were. So tonight, let me set the record straight: I live in New York. I have a wife who craves Chinese food. And people I trust tell me I practically invented the word ‘chutzpah.’”

    The media mogul has taken in awards from innumerable Jewish organizations for his philanthropy and support, and his networks like “Fox News” tend to be the least biased toward Israel of any major media outlets.

    This year, Murdoch was offered the chance to buyIsraeli daily “Yediot Aharonot” (he passed) and his son pledged $1 million to the ADL following the alt-right march in Charlottesville. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    VOICES

  • Dennis Prager

    Media personality

    The Middle East conflict, says long-time radio star Dennis Prager, is the hardest conflict to solve, but the easiest to explain: “One side wants the other side dead.”

    The problem, says the conservative pundit, is that Muslims and Arabs “do not recognize the right of Israel to exist.”

    This simple reality is one that Prager reminds people of on a regular basis in his role as one of the most popular and successful opinion makers in the United States, in particular through his series of videos entitled PragerU, which garner millions of hits.

    “Prager University is the most widely viewed pro-American, pro-Israeli, pro-Judeo-Christian values site in the world,” he says.

    In particular, Prager hopes his virtual university will aid Jewish college students.

    “Due to the influence of leftism in high schools and universities, vast numbers of young Jews are alienated from Israel and believe that Israel’s enemies are the moral party,” he asserts, something he believes his multi-media efforts can change. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    VOICES

  • Abigail Pogrebin

    Author

    Judaism has, to say the least, a lot of holidays, only some of which are observed by most Jews. Writer Abby Pogrebin took on the task of changing this with her 2017 book “My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew,” her chronicle of observing every Jewish holiday in the calendar.

    “I was frustrated by my own ignorance, by the fact that I had never experienced what I saw more observant Jews experience in their average year, and it looked meaningful from my vantage point,” she says.

    Calling herself “a little bit of a rabbi groupie,” she tried to engage in rituals from across traditions and denominations.

    In the end, Pogrebin, who is the president of Central Synagogue in New York City, wants others to take the opportunity to experience the complete Jewish year. “What I hope,” she says, “that anyone finds in this book is some answer to why there seems to be a Jewish holiday every five seconds, and also what is this heritage that has endured, what is the power of it, and what is the relevance today?’

    Pogrebin, a former television producer, is also the author ofStars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish” and “One and the Same: My Life As an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned About Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular” and the Amazon Kindle single “Showstopper.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    VOICES

  • Jake Tapper

    CNN anchor

    Top “CNN” anchor Jake Tapper usually doesn’t make much of his Jewish background, but Jews around the country were likely heartened when the sometimes pugnacious reporter went head to head with celebrity Israel-hater Linda Sarsour and won.

    It started when the Women’s March tweeted in praise of cop-killing terrorist Assata Shakur. Tapper tweeted in response, “Shakur is a cop-killer fugitive in Cuba. This, ugly sentiments from @lsarsour & @dykemarchchi ...Any progressives out there condemning this?”

    Sarsour slandered Tapper in response, saying he was part of the alt-right. Unintimidated, Tapper blasted Sarsour’s call for Ayaan Hirsi Ali to have her vagina “taken away.” As Tapper noted, “Pretty vile to say about a survivor of FGM.”

    Raised in a Jewish day school and an alumni of Camp Ramah, Tapper has taken up the cudgel for the Jews before, once criticizing his own network for a chyron that appeared to grant legitimacy to the question of whether Jews are people. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

    VOICES

  • Michael Twitty

    Chef and author

    Michael Twitty calls himself “four-times blessed” because he is “large of body, gay, African American and Jewish.”

    Twitty is now one of the hottest American celebrity chefs, bursting on to the scene when he criticized fellow chef Paula Deen for ignoring the African-American influence on southern cooking.

    Since then, Twitty has been tirelessly working his magic through the Cooking Gene Project and Afroculinaria, which trace the roots of African-American cuisine all the way back to Africa.

    The virtuoso cook and anthropologist of African-American culinary traditions is also a convert to Judaism, calling his cooking “Afro-ashke-phardi.” He says that African-American and Jewish food have a deep kinship.

    “There are other similar, old-food traditions,” he says, “but none that really go into the dialectic of humor and resistance and memory and pain as well as black and Jewish diasporic food cultures. Not many people have that, where that’s what they need their food to do and to be for them.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    VOICES

  • Bari Weiss

    New York Times editor

    The “New York Times” isn’t always noted for its sympathy toward Israel and the Jews, but the Gray Lady went some way toward balancing its biases in 2017 when Bari Weiss joined its op-ed section.

    Weiss, a former editor at “Tablet Magazine” and the “Wall Street Journal,” is hardly a mindless ideologue, but she is an articulate defender of the Jewish and pro-Israel point of view, and she has already been causing a stir.

    In a recent column, she blasted the leaders of the Women’s March for “chilling ideas and associations,” especially the anti-Zionist Linda Sarsour, who has advocated sharia law and claimed Zionists cannot be feminists.

    In another piece on the ejection of Jewish activists from the Chicago Dyke March for waving Star of David flags, Weiss called the incident “a reminder that antisemitism remains as much a problem on the far-left as it is on the far-right.” (Photo credit: Twitter.)

    VOICES

  • Sarah Zoabi

    Activist

    “I define myself as an Arab, Muslim, Israeli, and proud Zionist,” says Sarah Zoabi, thus demolishing all stereotypes and assumptions about Israeli-Arabs.

    Hailing from northern Israel and a relative of the outspoken anti-Zionist MK Hanin Zoabi, Sarah Zoabi is a vocal and passionate supporter of the State of Israel and its founding ideology, saying, “I believe in the right of the Jewish people to have their own country, which is the state of Israel, the holy land.”

    She acknowledges that others may find her beliefs bizarre. “I’m sure that the people who hear me will say: ‘what, have you lost your mind? How can you say you are a Zionist?’”

    She defends herself by saying, “I want to say to all the Arab [citizens] of Israel to wake up. We live in paradise. Compared to other countries, to Arab countries – we live in paradise.”

    Sarah is the mother of Muhammad Zoabi, another Arab Zionist who was forced to go into hiding when he received death threats after posting a video supporting Israel and denouncing terrorism. (Photo credit: Facebook.)

    VOICES

  • lucifer69

    Bravo

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