Previous Profile
Gabrielle Giffords
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Rick Jacobs
Philip Levine
Ryan Braun
Gabrielle Giffords
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Rick Jacobs
Philip Levine
Ryan Braun
Gabrielle Giffords
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Rick Jacobs
Philip Levine
Ryan Braun
Gabrielle Giffords
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Rick Jacobs
Philip Levine
Ryan Braun
Next Profile

Five Who Mattered

For our Top Five picks, we wanted to offer deeper portraits of these extraordinary Jewish leaders and what makes them tick. So we sat down with people who know them or have written about them, and asked why they are so special.

Watch, learn and enjoy.


Plus One

Celebrate the 50

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.

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.

— Jane Eisner

The 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 Forward requires 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, the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • 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.