21. Stanley Fischer Governor of the Bank of Israel
The other candidates for the position of International Monetary Fund managing director must have breathed a sigh of relief last year when Stanley Fischer’s nomination was canceled because of his age (The IMF’s by-laws state that the managing director must be under 65). After all, the Zambian- born, US-educated Bank of Israel governor had been voted “best suited” for the role in a Reuters poll of leading economists, and was believed to have the support of emerging countries like China and Brazil.
Fischer, 68, has headed the Israeli central bank since May 2005. Prior to that, he established a reputation as one of the world’s leading economists while holding a variety of positions including vice chairman of Citigroup, deputy managing director of the IMF, and head of the MIT Department of Economics.
Fischer has helped steer the Israeli economy on a steady course through the global financial crisis and more recent economic challenges in 2011- 12. In September 2009, the Bank of Israel became the first central bank in the developed world to raise its benchmark interest rate following the financial crisis. In recognition of his leadership, Euromoney magazine named Fischer Central Bank Governor of the Year in 2010. – Nadav Shemer
22. Shimon Peres President of Israel
Whether or not one agrees with his politics, one cannot deny that President Shimon Peres is simultaneously Israel’s No. 1 export and No. 1 import. While it’s par for the course for visiting presidents and prime ministers to meet with him, other dignitaries from around the globe almost do cartwheels for a photo opportunity with him and the chance to shake his hand.
On average, Peres, 88, travels abroad approximately every six weeks, but sometimes with greater frequency – and it’s seldom a one or two-city hop, as for instance his recent coast-to-coast visit to the United States.
In his trips abroad, just as in the many trips he makes across the country at home, Peres makes a point of talking to high school students because he likes the honesty and spontaneity of young people. He’s also a big fan of modern technology and some of his friends include Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sergey Brin, Dreamworks’ Steven Spielberg and a host of others in Silicon Valley.
He also rubs shoulders with the world’s movers and shakers at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos. Among the trips he has planned in the near future are to Washington to receive the Freedom Medal and to London as the head of the Israeli delegation to the Olympic Games.
– Greer Fay Cashman
23. Norton Schwartz US Air Force chief
Gen. Norton Schwartz made history in 2008 when he was appointed Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. Firstly, he was the first commander to not have a background as a fighter pilot. Secondly, he is Jewish.
Set to retire in the coming months, Schwartz did not hide his Jewish identity throughout his military career which spanned more than four decades.
In 2004, for example, when the Jewish Community Centers Armed Forces and Veteran’s Committee presented its Military Leadership Award to Schwartz, he said he was “proud to be identified as Jewish as well as an American military leader.” Before his graduation from the Air Force Academy in 1973, he was also reportedly a member of the Jewish choir there.
Schwartz has led the USAF during one of its most tumultuous periods, leading efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and also in combating budget cuts that have led the force to cut back on the number of fighter jets it had planned to procure over the coming years.
Schwartz has also been instrumental in planning the US’s military option for a strike against Iran, which Obama administration officials have said is ready to be used if needed.
In March, Bloomberg quoted him as saying about Iran: “What we can do, you wouldn’t want to be in the area.” – Yaakov Katz
24. Ben Bernanke Chairman of the US Federal Reserve
As chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke is a leader in both the American and international economic arenas. Born and raised in South Carolina, Bernanke, 58, learned Hebrew as a child from his grandfather, a cantor and Hebrew teacher. He earned degrees from Harvard (bachelor’s) and MIT (PhD) in economics before becoming a tenured professor at Princeton. In 2006, Bernanke was appointed to a four-year term as the chairman of the Federal Reserve and went on to secure a second term in 2010. He has been, and continues to be, instrumental in guiding US efforts to weather the storm of the 2008 economic crisis. Although his tenure as the head of the American central bank has not been without controversy, Bernanke was named Time magazine’s person of the year in 2009. Looking toward the future, the macroeconomist has called for reducing the budget deficit and reforming cornerstone American entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. – Yitzchak Besser
25. The Frat: Pack Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen
It seems that Hollywood has hit on a winning combination lately: A movie produced by Judd Apatow, starring a couple of his favorite comedic actors and with a script equal parts laugh-out-loud funny and cringe-inducingly dirty.
It is precisely this synthesis that is winning over the hearts (and wallets) of moviegoers.
And these funny men? Well, they all have some serious Jewish bona fides. Paul Rudd’s original family name was Rudnitzky, Seth Rogen once described his parents – who met on a kibbutz – as “radical Jewish socialists;” and Jonah Hill said he grew up vacationing in the Catskills and watching Borscht Belt comedians. Apatow once referred to the Hollywood-coined Frat Pack as “the Spice Girls of Jews.”
Their working relationship is a fluid one: Rogen, 30, Rudd, 43, and Hill, 28, all appeared in the No. 1 box-office hit The 40-Year-Old Virgin in 2005 and 2007’s critically acclaimed Knocked Up, both of which were written, directed and produced by Apatow, 44.
Hill and Rogen both star in Superbad (2007) and Funny People (2009) and Hill and Rudd in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), all produced by Apatow, all celebrating the sweet slacker male and his pursuit of love.
What’s up next for the Jew crew? Apatow is working on a sequel to Knocked Up starring Rudd while Rogen and Hill are collaborating on two films: The Apocalypse, scheduled for 2012 and The Watch, premiering this summer. – Amy Spiro
26. Rick Jacobs President of the Union for Reform Judaism
Almost 30 years ago, Rabbi Rick Jacobs had to pick between being a career dancer or a career rabbi. Today, thousands of Reform Jews are thrilled he chose the latter.
Jacobs, 56, took the reins as president of the Union for Reform Judaism at the beginning of last year (though he won’t be officially installed until next month), and has been praised for his charisma and energy, already initiating the Campaign for Youth Engagement to keep teens active in the Reform movement post bar- and bat-mitzva age, when they typically drift away.
As a 20-year pulpit rabbi at the Westchester Reform Temple, Jacobs was known for his social justice projects and overseeing the synagogue’s expansive ecofriendly renovation. He has traveled to locations like Chad and Haiti as a board member of the American Jewish World Service, and encouraged his congregants to take similar trips.
Jacobs has been criticized for his membership in J Street and for taking part in a protest at Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem in 2010, but in his remarks upon taking the helm last year, said “we stand with Israel, never ceasing to fight for a Jewish homeland that is secure, religiously free, guided by justice and dwelling in peace.”
– Amy Spiro
27. Irene Rosenfeld CEO of Kraft Foods
Irene Rosenfeld makes today delicious, one bite at a time. As CEO of Kraft Foods, Rosenfeld, 59, manages a multinational food and beverage conglomerate that markets brands in over 170 countries.
In 2011, when Kraft announced that it would split in two, it named Rosenfeld chairwoman of the $31 billion global snacking company Mondelez International, one half of the divided company.
Born and raised in Westbury, New York, Rosenfeld holds a PhD in marketing and statistics and an MBA from Cornell University.
She has worked in the food industry for some 30 years. Forbes rated Rosenfeld 10th in its 2011 list of Most Powerful Women.
– Rachel Marder
28. Jonathan Sacks Outgoing UK chief rabbi
For the past 20 years, Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has been the face of British Jewry.
Following the announcement of his resignation at the end of 2010, which will take effect in September 2013, no real successor has emerged, and some have even called into question the ability – and necessity – of replacing him.
Sacks, 64, who has an MA from Cambridge and a PhD from King’s College in London, took the reins as chief rabbi from Lord Immanuel Jakobovits in 1991. Sacks was knighted in 2005 and became a member of the House of Lords in 2009.
During his tenure as head of the British Jewish community, Sacks has been a prolific author and commentator on TV, and published the Koren/Sacks prayer book, a new translation of the traditional text.
Despite his worldwide recognition, he garnered criticism in the UK and beyond for his lack of appeal to non-Orthodox Jews, as well as for overseeing an era of sweeping decline in Jewish affiliation in Britain. – Amy Spiro
29. Sheldon Adelson, Businessman
In an election year in which a new US Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for unlimited cash donations that have led individuals to have an outside role in campaigns, perhaps no individual has stood out more than Sheldon Adelson, 78.
The casino mogul worth almost $25 billion gave so generously to Newt Gingrich’s campaign that many credited him with being the only thing keeping the former speaker of the US House’s bid for the GOP nomination on life support.
In the end, Gingrich conceded, but that leaves the staunchly pro-Israel Adelson – who owns Israel Hayom – and his money free for other contributions.
He has already made his backing for House Republicans clear, and he’s expected to weigh in on several other campaigns across the nation.
It is unclear exactly how much policy adherence Adelson, a Netanyahu confidant, expects from those he backs, but his presence certainly has an effect on how the campaigns get played out.
– Hilary Leila Krieger
30. Mayim Bialik Actress and writer
For young Jews of a certain age, Mayim Bialik, 36, will always be known as Blossom, the eponymous character of her ’90s teen TV show. After a long break from showbiz to pursue academics – she has a PhD in neuroscience – she’s back with a role on one of the most popular US television shows, The Big Bang Theory, and making waves in the Jewish world.
The mother of two, who has defined herself as “Conservadox” in observance, writes for the Jewish parenting blog Kveller, and has starred in videos on Jewish life with Allison Josephs of “Jew and the City.” She received the “Deborah” award from the Anti-Defamation League for Jewish women leaders.
Earlier this year she published a controversial parenting book, Beyond the Sling: A Real- Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, in which she details how she is still breastfeeding her three-year- old son and her practice of “co-sleeping” – where the whole family shares a bed.
Plus she has impressive Jewish lineage – she’s a fourth-generation descendant of Israeli national poet Haim Nahman Bialik. – Amy Spiro