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Forward 50 2018

Meghan Markle

The Royal Addition — Our Forward 50 Gets A Plus 1!

Say it with us: Meghan Markle — not a Jew.

But oh, oh, in our hearts she is! Markle, the 37-year-old American television actress and activist became Duchess of Sussex in May when she wed the Duke, aka Prince Harry, the Queen’s grandson. In the uproar during the early days of our relationship, some (including the Forward) speculated that Markle might be Jewish — her real name is Rachel, her previous marriage began with a Jewish wedding, she was the best woman at her Jewish friend’s wedding and a spokesperson for Westminster Abbey commented that the royal nuptials would be “interfaith.”

Alas, it was confirmed that Markle is not a member of our tribe. But she’s welcome at our Shabbat table any time. A lifelong advocate for women and girls, she served as a U.N. Women’s advocate and an ambassador for the children’s charity World Vision, and she did humanitarian work to combat global slavery long before anyone offered her a tiara.

A pioneer on many fronts in the royal family — black, American, divorced — Markle has nonetheless seemed undaunted by prejudice. As Duchess, she has been tireless — touring the world speaking about female empowerment, and producing a cookbook with the displaced, largely-immigrant community of Londoners who survived the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.

The Duke and Duchess are expecting a baby, due spring 2019. We wish them a hearty mazel tov, whether or not they know what that means.

— Jenny Singer

Every year we choose a “+1,” to add to our Forward 50 in addition to the 50 others. We choose someone who doesn’t fit the strict criteria of being alive, Jewish and American but who has made a crucial difference to the American Jewish conversation. It’s intended to be provocative, sometimes light-hearted: One year we chose the horse American Pharoah, one year the Pope, one year we chose Angelina Jolie for her public mastectomy as a result of the BRCA gene that disproportionately affects Ashkenazi Jews. Mazeltov to Meghan Markle for joining that eclectic group!

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