The Forward 50


Published November 16, 2011, issue of November 11, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Forward 50 is a snapshot in time, an impressionist picture of the American Jewish story during a given year. But because it’s an annual project, we also can discern subtle transformations in leadership and community over time. The Forward journalists who assemble this list pride ourselves on searching beyond the expected names and faces to elevate the impactful work of American Jews in arenas that might seem surprising. The baseball field. The concert hall. The scientific laboratory. The refugee camp.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THIS YEAR’S FORWARD 50

This year, the center of gravity in Jewish leadership shifted away from the conventional national lobbying groups and communal organizations and toward more innovative expressions of Jewish life. The culture category again dwarfed all others, replete with writers, architects, playwrights, conductors, musicians, actors and comic artists creating inspired and sometimes provocative work that resonates across generations in a Jewish trope.

Jewish activism also took to new stages, fueling the Occupy Wall Street protests, challenging the hegemony of rabbinic leadership in ultra-Orthodox enclaves and advocating for Israel on an Arabic-language Facebook page.

A continuing concern is the paucity of women on this list. This year, the Forward 50 is again dominated by men, with women comprising slightly less than one-third of the names. This reflects the absence of women in significant leadership roles in American Jewry, but it also could be because we weren’t looking in the right places. Reader engagement in this process is essential, and I encourage you to let me know if there are worthy women, and men, we have overlooked.

But first, celebrate the 50 who are here.






Find us on Facebook!
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.