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!
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • 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.