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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
- Niv Elis
35. Bank Leumi CEO Rakefet
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
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?”
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
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
- 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
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.
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
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
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.
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