Top 50 most influential Jews 2013: Places 1-10
Top 50 most influential Jews 2013: Places 11-20
Top 50 most influential Jews 2013: Places 21-30

31. Fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg

If you ever see a woman walking down the street sporting a jersey wrap dress, there is one person responsible for that: Diane von Fürstenberg.

The Belgian-American fashion designer, 66, first launched her career in New York, and today her clothing can be found in more than 70 countries around the world. In recent years her designs have appeared on US first lady Michelle Obama and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, arguably two of the most influential fashion icons today.

She serves as president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, who awarded her its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. She is worth an estimated $1.3 billion, and is active in many philanthropic organizations, particularly those assisting and promoting women around the world.

-Amy Spiro

32. CEO of BHB Holdings, Matthew Bronfman

Matthew Bronfman, 53, is a New York-based international businessman and philanthropist who is a strong supporter of Israel and Jewish causes. The chairman and CEO of BHB Holdings, an investment company with numerous interests, Bronfman is one of the controlling shareholders of Israel Discount Bank (IDB), one of Israel’s largest banks, and of Shufersal, Israel’s largest supermarket chain. In addition, he controls the IKEA franchise in Israel and has numerous real estate holdings here and in the US. Bronfman’s philanthropic interests include serving as chairman of the Limmud FSU International steering committee – he founded Limmud FSU together with Israel’s Chaim Chesler – as well as being national chairman of the American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS young leadership program, and chairing the Teamwork Foundation, an after-school basketball program in the south Bronx, New York.

-Steve Linde

33. Tel Aviv Stock Exchange CEO Ester Levanon

A mathematician by education, Ester Levanon, 67, is the first woman and first non-economist to head the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. She has overseen a period of tremendous development in the market.

Levanon became the CEO in 2006 after 20 years at the exchange, and was behind the modernization effort to computerize the exchange (what else would you expect from the woman who ran IT for the Shin Bet?).

Under her watch, in 2010, Israel’s classification in the well-known MSCI Index changed from “developing” to “developed,” a status that boosted its ability to attract investors from around the world.

Since her appointment as CEO Levanon has overseen TASE’s transformation into a fully automated exchange, upgrading it into one of the world’s most advanced stock exchanges as well as one of the few that offers fully automated trading in securities, bonds, T-bills and derivatives alongside fully automated paperless clearing and settlement.

-Niv Elis

34. Arison Group owner Shari Arison

With a net worth of $4.2 billion, Shari Arison, 55, is Israel’s richest woman, and fourth richest person, according to Forbes.

This year, while continuing to lead the Arison Group, which has stakes in Bank Hapoalim, Shikun & Binui Real Estate and Salt of the Earth, Israel’s leading salt manufacturer, Arison published a New York Times best-seller: Activate Your Goodness. The book, which launched in Times Square with an event called Good Deeds Day, encourages people to do good for themselves and those around them.

Not just anyone could get former US president Bill Clinton to endorse them on a book cover. Arison has led an annual Good Deeds Day in Israel for seven consecutive years, with this year’s effort reaching an all-time high of 5,200 projects organized around the country.

The philanthropic arm of the Arison Group, named for Shari’s father, Carnival Cruise founder Ted Arison, invests in the arts, environmental projects and coexistence initiatives.

- Niv Elis

35. Bank Leumi CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach

Barely a year into her position as CEO of Bank Leumi, 47-year-old Rakefet Russak-Aminoach touched off a note of public ire that vaulted into the headlines. The Bank had decided to forgive NIS 150 million owed to it by the chronically indebted IDB Holdings, owned by tycoon Nochi Dankner. The problem was, without a debt settlement, the company might go under, and not pay back the rest of its hefty debt. After the sharp public outcry, which included several pointed Facebook campaigns, the bank reversed course, leaving IDB’s fate uncertain.

Having weathered the controversy, Russak- Aminoach, who eight years ago became the youngest board member of the bank, is tasked with leading Israel’s second largest bank in a way that manages both its financial interests and the public’s sense of social justice.

- Niv Elis

36. Author David Grossman

David Grossman has become a vital and influential voice for peace in Israeli society through both his literature and his political activism. Born in Jerusalem, the 59-year-old writer started his career as an anchor on Kol Yisrael, but was fired when in 1988 he refused to downplay the news that the Palestinians had declared their own state and recognized Israel’s right to exist. His book The Yellow Wind, published in 1987, created a firestorm in Israel as it documented daily humiliations experienced by Palestinians living under Israeli rule in the territories.

“I usually write about things that frighten me,” Grossman said at the time. “Otherwise what’s the point?”

Since then Grossman has written over a dozen books, translated into more than 30 languages. His latest and highly lauded novel, To the End of the Land (2008), follows a mother who refuses to stop hiking while her son is at war, so that she won’t be home to hear from the IDF if something happens to him. The book was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 2010, and US President Barack Obama said it was among the books he took with him on vacation in August 2011.

Grossman’s pro-peace activism grew in August 2006 when his son Uri was killed during the Second Lebanon War. Soon after he spoke at the memorial ceremony for slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, in which he blamed prime minister Ehud Olmert for the war and failure to pursue peace with the Palestinians.

Grossman has won many awards including the Sapir Prize, the Bialik Prize and the Emet Prize.

- Rachel Marder

37. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder

An international businessman and philanthropist, Ronald S. Lauder, 69, has served as president of the World Jewish Congress since 2007, and was reelected this month. He is considered one of the wealthiest and most influential Jewish leaders on the world stage. The son of Joseph and Estee Lauder, who established a cosmetics empire in the US, the New York-based Lauder manages investments in real estate and media, including Central European Media Enterprises and Jerusalem Capital Studios. He has demonstrated his deep commitment to Israel and Jewish causes through a wide range of philanthropic endeavors. A former US ambassador to Austria and close associate of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he has served as an intermediary between Israel and Turkey, and between Israel and Syria. In 1987, he established The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, which focuses on Jewish education and community outreach programs. After a successful 10-year tenure as president of the Jewish National Fund, Lauder became chairman of its board in 2007.

Under his leadership, JNF gained a four-star rating from Charity Navigator and earned the Better Business Bureau seal of approval.

- Steve Linde

38. Supermodel Bar Refaeli

There are many people who would take issue with Bar Refaeli, 27, being on this list – particularly since she got out of her IDF service in questionable manner and once said in an interview she would rather “live in New York than die for my country.” But there’s only one Bar Refaeli and she’s not apologizing for her attitude.

The supermodel and former Sports Illustrated cover girl is one of the – if not the – highest-profile Israelis in the world. Face it: Middle America knows her face, name and assets much, much better than the No. 1 entry on this list, not the least since she was voted No. 1 on Maxim magazine’s Hot 100 list of 2012. Whether it’s the fact that she was splashed all over gossip magazines during her on-and-off relationship with A-list actor Leonardo DiCaprio, a shout-out in a Kanye West song or making out with a nerd in a Super Bowl ad, Refaeli is everywhere, all around the world, which is why the Foreign Ministry had her represent Israel in an anti-BDS ad, a move that garnered criticism from the IDF due to her draft dodging.

Like it or not, the response came soon after in her typical unrepentant fashion: “You can use the clip for the Foreign Ministry or drop it, but my Instagram feed has more readers than Israel’s most popular newspaper.”

Refaeli knows where she stands.

-  Lahav Harkov

39. Miss Israel Yityish Aynaw

Yityish “Titi” Aynaw, the first Ethiopian-born woman to be crowned Miss Israel, is someone who has defied expectations her entire life.

The 21-year-old former IDF officer started with all the disadvantages life could offer. As an orphaned, 10-year-old immigrant in a society radically different from that in which she was born, Aynaw could have chosen to hold low expectations for herself.

Instead, after coming to Israel and moving in with her grandmother in Netanya, she graduated high school, learned Hebrew so well that she has not a trace of an accent and completed the officers’ course in the IDF.

Crowned as Israel’s first black national beauty queen, Aynaw’s ascension tells us as much about Israeli attitudes toward race as it does about her own determination and grit.

Aynaw hopes to represent the diversity of Israeli society to the world, and even met with US President Barack Obama during his visit to the country in March.

“It’s time that someone from my community, someone with my skin color, who is Israeli just like everyone else, represents the country,” Aynaw said.

- Sam Sokol

40. Film director Dror Moreh

Director Dror Moreh shocked the nation with his brilliant and honest documentary film, The Gatekeepers, which came out last year. The first-ever on-screen interviews with six former heads of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – which has largely overseen security in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967 – delved into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, offering a revealing insider’s look into Israel’s management of the territories.

The film earned Moreh, 51, an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. The bluntness of the interviewees – Avi Dichter, Yaakov Peri, Yuval Diskin, Ami Ayalon, Avraham Shalom and Carmi Gillon – surprised many Israelis and foreign audiences.

“Forget about morality,” one says in the film, of his time in the job.

Moreh, who was born in Jerusalem and studied film and television at Tel Aviv University, has shown his strong interest in Israel’s leaders with his 2007 film Sharon, a documentary about Ariel Sharon, and dived into other issues with Occupational Hazard, a documentary portraying an Israeli journalist’s journey into Iraq during the Second Gulf War.

- Rachel Marder

Top 50 most influential Jew 2013: Places 41-50

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