A Year of Curses and Many Blessings
In this tumultuous, contentious year, we learned that it was a blessing and, sometimes, a curse to be a Jew in America.
The presidential campaign dominated the discourse much more than usual, and in some unwelcome ways. Many Jewish journalists… [Read more] were targeted by white nationalists on social media, threatened for who they are and what they wrote. But journalists such as Julia Ioffe and Ben Shapiro stood firm in the face of harassment, and their cause was aided by communal leaders like the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt.
At the same time, the notable role played by the candidates’ Jewish family members spoke to Jewish political empowerment. Never in our memory did the Democratic and Republican nominee both have a Jewish son-in-law — and in Donald Trump’s case, a Jewish daughter, Ivanka, who is a brand unto herself.
Jews dominated the cultural landscape, in television, cinema, music, books, fashion, theatre — up to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize. We also made an unexpectedly strong showing in the sports arena, thanks to Theo Epstein’s leadership bringing the forlorn Chicago Cubs to a World Series win and Aly Raisman’s stunning Olympics display.
America’s legal and business sectors benefited from Jewish entrepreneurial ingenuity, while our religious and communal leaders challenged orthodoxies of all kinds.
As always, the Forward’s annual list of Jews who have impacted American life is a communal effort, but special tribute goes to Dan Friedman, Thea Glassman and Kurt Hoffman for their creativity and leadership. This project went to press hours after Trump’s stunning victory, opening an uncertain chapter in the American Jewish story. But to paraphrase the play that made Daveed Diggs famous, the Jews in the Forward 50 never threw away their shot, and we know they never will.