A Year of Looking In — and Speaking Out

Editor's Note


from-cache

By Jane Eisner

Published November 10, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Two thousand thirteen has been an inside/outside kind of year, a time of agonizing introspection for the Jewish community as a whole, and one in which individual American Jews played dramatic roles on the national stage. It was a year of thrilling gains and heartbreaking loss, a year when new words crept into our vocabulary, some welcome, others not.

The introspection was fueled by the release of the Pew Research Center’s authoritative survey of American Jews, illustrating a generational shift toward a more fluid Jewish identity. It was Joe Neubauer, a son of Holocaust survivors, whose financial support made the survey possible and whose central insight — that data and facts should shape decisions — now stands as a charge to the Jewish community.

While focused on our own story, American Jews also actively contributed to the national narrative. Edie Windsor was the plaintiff in the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, heralding marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Sheryl Sandberg’s exhortation for women to “lean in” to their careers introduced a new phrase to the American lexicon. And Veronique Pozner’s extraordinary grace in dealing with her son’s death in the Newtown school massacre served as a stirring model of grief and resolve.

There were political firsts — Eric Garcetti as mayor of Los Angeles and Janet Yellen at the Fed — and graceful retirements, though no one really expects that Philip Roth, Ruth Wisse, John Ruskay, Avi Weiss or Nick Lemann will slip from the public eye.

No year is immune from scandal, but 2013 may be remembered for the concentration of misdeeds at institutions that once commanded respect. Let it also be remembered for the astonishing creativity our honorees unleashed in places as varied as a Manhattan synagogue, a television set, a scientist’s laboratory and a chef’s kitchen.

Compiling this list is a joint effort in the Forward newsroom, one that somehow never gets easier but is always rewarding. Our self-imposed rules require that every one of the 50 is an American citizen whose actions speak with a Jewish inflection. We didn’t break the rules to recognize the Pope and Angelina Jolie, just added to them.

from-cache

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • 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.