The Jerusalem Post's 50 most influential Jews

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  (photo credit: REUTERS)
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).
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