Forward 50 | Bari Weiss: The commentator the left loves to hate
Sassy, smart, savvy and supremely connected, Weiss, 35, was everywhere in 2019: speaking, Tweeting, columnizing and otherwise engaging on the year’s top Jewish concern: How to Fight Anti-Semitism, which also happens to be the title of her first book, published in September. A former Forward staffer, her day job is as a writer and editor in The New York Times’ Opinion department, but Weiss’s role in the Jewish conversation is much bigger than even that bullhorn. She is at the center of it, naming heroes and villains, sharing articles and anecdotes, helping college students find internships and nonprofits find donors, bearing witness last week in Jersey City as she did last year in her home neighborhood of Squirrel Hill.
As evidenced at her swank if overcrowded book-launch party at the Lamb’s Club — where Peggy Noonan, Shari Redstone and Eve Peyser were among the sweaty fans — Weiss is a bridge between establishment old-guard institutions and the millennial digerati. She confounds critics, maybe because of her neocon politics (especially on Israel) and alt lifestyle (she is dating Nellie Bowles, a San Francisco-based Times reporter), or maybe because she is really, really nice. Our biggest question: Does the woman actually sleep?
What do you have for breakfast? Iced coffee
What’s the last thing you listened to on your phone? The Daily!
Earliest Jewish memory: Ooof, hard to say. I think I remember being at the March to Save Soviet Jewry at three years old … but more likely I’ve reconstructed it from pictures and stories. For sure I remember my first trip to Israel. Mostly, I remember the waffle stand on Emek Refaim.
Heroes: Ruth. Queen Esther. Theodor Herzl. Natan Sharansky.
2019 memory: Writing a book is hard. But my life was made a lot easier because The Times gave me time off to write and I got to do it while living with my girlfriend in the Bay Area. I will always be a Squirrel Hill girl at heart, but Northern California might have something on Pittsburgh in terms of natural beauty.
What app can you not live without? Voice Memos! It’s how I record interviews.
Weekend ritual: Shabbat dinner. No contest.
The Forward’s review of Weiss’s book
The Times’ review of her book.
A 2018 Forward column defending her against accusations of racism.
New York Magazine on Weiss’s book party
Follow Bari Weiss on Twitter @bariweiss