The Jewish Forward has compiled its Forward 50 yearly list of American Jews who made a difference in communal life in the past year. Here’s their description of how they compiled it:
We’ve chosen them because they are doing and saying things that are making a difference in the way American Jews, for better or worse, view the world and themselves. Not all these people have put their energies into the traditional frameworks of Jewish community life, but they all have embodied the spirit of Jewish action as it is emerging in America, and all of them have left a mark.
What is striking to me, especially considering that the Forward is considered a liberal publication, is just how top heavy the list is with the same old tired conservative, pro-Israel male faces. And to look at this list the only way you can have an impact on American Jewish life is by leading a mainstream Jewish organization. Isn’t anything happening outside the ADL, AIPAC, Conference of Presidents nexus?
Here are the names that struck me as either being right-wing or associated with conservative causes:
Abe Foxman (ADL)
Howard Kohr (AIPAC)
Sheldon Adelson (Taglit funder)
Peter Deutsch (founder of Ben Gamla Charter School, the nation’s first “Jewish” public school)
David Brog (of John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel)
Charles Jacobs (David Project)
Rita Katz (SITE Institute, anti-Muslim anti-terror group)
Michael Steinhardt (Taglit founder, New York Sun investor)
Shlomo Cunin (Chabad)
Here are the names that represented liberal-progressive attitudes:
Jeremy Ben Ami
I also note the list also leaves out Jews in the media and bloggers, whether right wing or not. Here are some names I missed: Michael Lerner, Tony Kushner, Eric Alterman, Daniel Levy, Glenn Greenwald, and Norman Finkelstein. What names would you suggest?
I’d encourage us all to come up with an alternative list of those Jews who made a mark on Jewish life.
What does it mean to “make a mark on Jewish life”?
I don’t think you mean by ‘Jewish life’ Jewish institutional life.
Does it mean to affect Jewish people? Which Jewish people? As a low-income person who struggles to be politically active while struggling to keep a roof over my head, I’m sure I have nothing in common with some rich politically connected Jew.
I have nothing in common with an Israeli Jew who poison Palestinian wells.
Please tell me – what exactly is this bond of commonality I’m supposed to have with Jewish people?
David A.M. Wilensky says
My favorite Rabbi in the world, Andy Bachman, made the list, which brightened my day. I think more like him should’ve been on the list. Ben Dreyfuss?
Richard Silverstein says
I don’t know Rabbi Bachman or Ben Dreyfuss. Tell us a bit about them.