The Most Sig­nif­i­cant Amer­i­can Jews of 2017

Forward Magazine - - Contents - Edited by Ai­den Pin Pi Pink

The elec­tion of Don­ald Trump a year ago up­ended con­ven­tional wis­dom and dra­mat­i­cally al­tered Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, so­cial dis­course and civic iden­tity. This story, more than any other, has dom­i­nated the news ever since. As has of­ten been the case, what­ever hap­pens to Amer­ica, hap­pens to its Jews — only more so.

The For­ward’s an­nual list of the 50 most in­flu­en­tial, ac­com­plished and in­ter­est­ing Amer­i­can Jews re­flects this new re­al­ity. In the past year we’ve seen the me­te­oric rise of such jour­nal­ists as Jake Tap­per, Joel Pol­lak and es­pe­cially Maggie Haber­man, whose end­less scoops and sharp sto­ry­telling shaped the me­dia nar­ra­tive. Jason Green­blatt — a lit­tle-known lawyer with one very big client — sud­denly as­sumed a ma­jor diplo­matic role, while a pre­vi­ously un­known po­lit­i­cal aide like Stephen Miller came to great in­flu­ence in the White House. And no one Amer­i­can Jew has be­come as con­se­quen­tial as the mul­ti­task­ing Jared Kush­ner — ex­cept, per­haps, his wife, Ivanka Trump, who also has an of­fice next to the oval one in the West Wing.

Wash­ing­ton’s po­lit­i­cal drama has sparked a new wave of so­cial ac­tivism from the left, right and cen­ter, as well as an ex­plo­sion of cre­ative cul­ture. Not to be out­done are spir­i­tual lead­ers who are chal­leng­ing the re­li­gious sta­tus quo, open­ing up new con­ver­sa­tions on in­ter­mar­riage, the role of women, gays and les­bians in Ortho­dox Ju­daism and even, yes, on To­rah.

And though Won­der Woman isn’t Amer­i­can, we fig­ured out a way to in­clude her on this list. Just be­cause.

Com­pil­ing the For­ward 50 calls upon the knowl­edge and re­source­ful­ness of my en­tire staff, but a few col­leagues de­serve par­tic­u­lar recog­ni­tion: Ai­den Pink, Adam Langer, Kurt Hoff­man, Anya Ulinich and Dan Fried­man. As the For­ward cel­e­brates its 120th an­niver­sary, we ded­i­cate our­selves anew to telling the Amer­i­can Jewish story with vigor, in­de­pen­dence, com­pas­sion and pride. It’s been a tough year, but — as the Hous­ton cou­ple who served oth­ers dur­ing a hur­ri­cane showed us — in­spi­ra­tion can be found any­where.

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