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Who Are the Most Influential Jews in the World?

Who Are the Most Influential Jews in the World?

Images of the four individuals listed in this piece as honored by a recent Jerusalem Post piece on the most influential Jews of 2017

The Jerusalem Post has released its list of the 50 most influential Jews in the world, and whether or not you agree with its choices, it’s probably no surprise that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner top this year’s list, followed by Israeli actress Gal Gadot and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Who else made the list? You’ll have to visit the Jerusalem Post for the whole list, but there are a few folks on it we’re particularly excited about: four individuals who will speak at the Union for Reform Judaism’s upcoming 2017 Biennial Convention, held December 6-10 in Boston, MA.

Anat Hoffman

Number eight on the list is Israeli activist Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal arm of the Reform movement in Israel, and chairwoman of Women of the Wall, and organization that fights for women’s rights to pray aloud and with Torah scrolls at the Kotel.

The Jerusalem Post says of her, “Despite [setbacks], Hoffman remains as indefatigable as ever, insisting that real power is measured not by raw political heft but rather by a commitment to what she describes as the Jewish values delineated by the prophets and the struggle to uphold them.”

At the URJ Biennial, Hoffman will be honored at ARZA’s 40th anniversary reception and will participate in Friday morning worship services around the theme “Kolot Nashim: Women's Voices in Prayer. She is the featured speaker at a Shabbat afternoon luncheon titled “Whose Wall Is It Anyway?”

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Number 22 on the list is Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the largest Jewish denomination in North America; he appears on the list alongside Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, head of the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Jewish Movement. Both leaders were key players in establishing the original agreement to establish an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, and they continue to be outspoken advocates for the Diaspora Jewish community.

The Jerusalem Post writes, “The weight of their communities and their willingness to express the deep dissatisfaction with the prime minister and his government’s actions demonstrated the power the Diaspora and leaders such as Jacobs and Schonfeld can wield when they feel they must.”

As the president of the URJ, Rabbi Jacobs will be frequent face at the Biennial. He’ll start by welcoming attendees to the event and leading the Thursday evening plenary session, an exploration of innovation in the Jewish community.

David Grossman

Number 27 on the list is award-winning Israeli author David Grossman, recent recipient of the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for his novel A Horse Walks into a Bar. One of the most well-known authors in the State of Israel, Grossman’s work has been translated into dozens of languages and adapted for stage production.

The Jerusalem Post writes, “While Grossman is known as both a writer and an activist, he said he doesn’t intentionally set out to have a political impact with his novels” – yet his left-wing, peace-loving ideals are powerfully evident in his work.

Grossman will be a featured speaker at the URJ Biennial’s Thursday night plenary session, which will discussing how Jewish communities can remain fresh and relevant in a fast-paced, ever-changing world.

Jonathan Greenblatt

Number 33 on the list is Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). With a significant spike in anti-Semitic threats this year, Greenblatt’s voice has been louder – and more necessary – than ever. The outspoken director, a former advisor to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, continues the ADL’s longstanding work of tracking and reporting out on anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. – and, now, tackling cyberhate, too.

In December 2016, Greenblatt told the Jerusalem Post that “the ADL will continue to ‘call it as [they] see it based on [their] historic mission’ and ‘hold the administration accountable’ went it comes to incitement and hateful discourse.’”

At the URJ Biennial, Greenblatt will lead a Shabbat luncheon discussion titled Tikkun Olam in Our Day: Insights of a Celebrated Social Entrepreneur and Innovator.

See these speakers and more in person at the URJ Biennial. Register now at www.urj.org/biennial, but hurry: Early-bird pricing ends soon!

Kate Bigam Kaput is the digital communications manager for the Union for Reform Judaism and, in this role, serves as a content manager and editor for ReformJudaism.org. A prolific essayist and lifestyle blogger, Kate's writing has been featured in The Washington PostEsquire, Woman's Day, Cleveland Magazine, HeyAlma.com, Jewish Women Archive, and more. Kate grew up at Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson, OH, holds a degree in magazine journalism from Kent State University, and currently lives in Cleveland with her husband, Mike.

Kate Bigam Kaput
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