The Jerusalem Post's 50 most influential Jews

By
May 21, 2015 12:38

A list of influential Jewish figures who have impacted the world last year, and have the potential to affect change in years to come.




Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu . (photo credit:REUTERS)

The spectrum of influence
For all its gravitas, the word “influential” can be rather nebulous.


It is a word often bandied about by people who wish the term described them or applied to those whose relevance has faded over the years. Sometimes, the word connotes a sort of moral judgment – that influential people are “good” (another ambiguous word).

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Perhaps it is best, then, to look at the word as representing a spectrum. Like “hard” and “soft” power, influence can manifest itself in bold and quiet ways.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who graces the top of our list, knows how to wield his influence in broad, forceful strokes. His controversial address to the US Congress last March, where he sounded the alarm bells about the P5+1 world powers negotiating with Iran over its nuclear weapons program, was far from subtle – but it did get the job done from a tactical perspective: For weeks before and after his speech, it was all the media (this newspaper included) could talk about.

But then there is a gentler kind of influence, one that is seen within communities and felt inside homes. Rachelle Fraenkel, who lost her son Naftali when he and two other teens were murdered by Hamas terrorists last summer, demonstrates how to persevere in the aftermath of the greatest tragedy.

And then, of course, there is everything in between. There is Jon Stewart and relative newcomer Amy Schumer, who prove that influence can be found in mocking the powerful for their absurdities.

There are the likes of Ron Lauder, Lynn Schusterman and Moshe Kantor, who have used their largesse to protect, enrich and enhance Jewish life despite the increasing threat of global anti-Semitism.

And then there are Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson, two media titans determined to shape the political landscape in the ways they think can best serve the US (and also, perhaps, the Jewish state).

Despite whatever the anti-Semitic tropes thrown at us say, as a Jewish community, we are far from monolithic. Our ideas are diverse, our opinions are robust and our visions for the future can (and often do) contradict each other.

No man knows that more than Nir Barkat, who is responsible for managing the city at the epicenter of Jewish harmony and discord – Jerusalem.

Of course, the world needs someone to document the controversies, watershed events and landmarks. Thomas Friedman, our sole journalist on the list, earned a front-row seat when he was the first to interview US President Barack Obama after the interim agreement with Iran was announced.

In full disclosure, it was not easy to come up with this list of names. There were many qualified candidates, interesting personalities and compelling stories. Therefore, we enlisted a committee to help us whittle down the list to the 50 names presented here; it included Barbara Opall-Rome (Israel bureau chief for Defense News); Nicky Blackburn (editor and Israel director of Israel21C); Yitzhak Eldan (former ambassador and Chief of Protocol in the Foreign Ministry); Yosef Abramowitz (CEO of Energiya Global Capital and co-founder of the Arava Power Company); and Gil Troy (American presidential historian and columnist for The Jerusalem Post).

We hope you agree that this list presents a compelling snapshot of world Jewry, its diversity and how they all impacted the world last year, and have the potential to affect change in years to come.

Hag sameah,

Noa Amouyal
Features Editor
The Jerusalem Post

The full list

1. Benjamin Netanyahu


2. Janet Yellen


3. Jack Lew


4. Wendy Sherman


5. Sheldon Adelson


6. Haim Saban


7. Reuven Rivlin


8. Gadi Eizenkot


9. Karnit Flug


10. Ron Lauder


11. Shimon Peres


12. Michael Bloomberg


13. Isaac Herzog


14. Ruth Bader Ginsburg


15. Malcolm Hoenlein


16. Natan Sharansky


17. Shari Arison


18. Jon Stewart


19. Dianne Feinstein


20. Todd Stern


21. Dan Shapiro


22. Efi Stenzler


23. Danna Azrieli


24. Miriam Naor


25. Jon Medved


26. Jeff Zients


27. Nir Barkat


28. Moshe Kahlon


29. Yosi Druker


30. Ron Dermer


31. Moshe Kantor



32. Lynn Schusterman


33. Ayelet Shaked


34. Berel Lazar


35. Eric Fingerhut


36. Rivka Carmi


37. Thomas Friedman


38. Sheryl Sandberg


39. Ruth Porat


40. David Blatt


41. Yechiel Eckstein


42. Rachelle Fraenkel


43. Marta Weinstock-Rosin


44. Vladimir Sloutsker


45. Elie Wiesel


46. Sharon Cohen Anisfeld


47. Matthew Bronfman


48. Idina Menzel


49. Amy Schumer


50. Gal Gadot


All categories:
Most influential Jews in the religious world

50 most influential Jews: Benjamin Netanyahu

Most influential Jews in diplomacy and politics

Most influential Jewish educators
Most influential media titans

Most influential Jewish environmentalists

50 most influential Jews: Rachelle Fraenkel

Most influential Jews in finance, economics and business
Most influential Jewish innovators, entrepreneurs

Most influential Jews in defense

Most influential Jews in sports

Most influential entertainers

Most influential Jews in the media

Most influential in Jewish World

Most influential Jews in law

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