50 most influential Jews: 41-50

Meryl Frank may be doing more to further the cause of women than anyone else in the US.

Shaul Mofaz 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Shaul Mofaz 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
41. Meryl Frank US ambassador to the UN Commission on the Status of Women
Meryl Frank may be doing more to further the cause of women than anyone else in the US.
The former mayor of Highland Park, New Jersey, Frank, 53, was named to the US delegation to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women in 2009, and became its head in 2010. She has traveled to Afghanistan, Kenya, Malawi, Afghanistan and Jordan to train and educate women on how to run for office.
The mother-of-four has also served as president of the American Jewish Congress’s Women’s Division and on the board of the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum. – Amy Spiro
42. Lev Leviev, Chairman of Africa Israel
The self-made Bukharan-Israeli billionaire businessman Lev Leviev, 55, has focused his attention this past year on rebuilding his real-estate holding company, Africa Israel.
The company reported a NIS 315 million profit in 2011, down from NIS 1.7 billion the previous year (including NIS 1.45 billion in an accounting adjustment from completion of its debt settlement).
Leviev opened the company’s 180,000 square meter AFI Mall in the heart of Moscow’s central business district in May 2011.
Born in Uzbekistan, Leviev and his family escaped the Soviet Union for Israel when he was a teenager.
He made his fortune in the Angolan diamond trade and is estimated by Forbes to be worth $1.7 billion.
Leviev famously defied De Beers, the controlling diamond importer, to stake a claim in the business.
He counts among his friends the heads of state of Angolia and Namibia, and of the republics of the Former Soviet Union.
Leviev was scheduled to face former business partner and fellow Israeli Arkady Gaydamak in a London court in late May, over charges that Leviev has not fulfilled an agreement to pay Gaydamak half of his income from the export of diamonds in Angola since 2004. – Nadav Shemer
43. Ovadia Yosef Spiritual leader of Shas
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, or Rav Ovadia as he is commonly known, has exercised a huge degree of control over the Sephardi and Mizrahi community in Israel and around the world for several decades now.
Yosef’s influence stems first and foremost from his status as one of the world’s most respected authorities on Jewish law and the preeminent Sephardi arbiter of Jewish law.
Coupled with this position of authority is the influence he wields over Shas, the political party he established in 1984 as a means to restore Mizrahi pride. Yosef, 91, essentially decides every major policy position of Shas, the party representing the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Sephardi voters, not to mention that of many traditional Sephardim as well.
Shas’s 11 seats in the Knesset and its continual presence in the governing coalition means that Yosef, who made aliya at age four from Iraq, exerts tremendous power over the decision-making process in Israel.
Yosef has courted controversy with provocative statements on the Holocaust, non-Jews and Arabs. – Jeremy Sharon
44. Shaul Mofaz, Kadima head
Had Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu initiated an election as planned on the night between May 7 and 8, Shaul Mofaz would not have merited being on this list. He would have been the opposition leader of a dispersed Knesset and the leader of a party en route to single-digit seats in a September 4 election.
But because he made a deal with Netanyahu on the formation of a national-unity coalition at 2 a.m. that night, Mofaz, 63, is vice premier in a government committed to implementing Kadima’s agenda: drafting yeshiva students, changing the electoral system, passing a fair budget and trying to advance peace with the Palestinians.
If the government achieves two or three of those goals, Mofaz’s political zigzag will be forgotten. He could turn around his party’s fortunes and enable it to resume its role as the leader of the center-left camp. If he fails, it will be the end of his career and possibly also his party. – Gil Hoffman
45. Alan Dershowitz Law professor, writer, activist
Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel (2003) has become required reading for contemporary Zionists.
The liberal Harvard law professor’s commentary on the Israeli-Arab conflict is well respected the world over, his books and columns on civil liberties, defending and advising the Jewish state and explaining terrorist tactics, make him one of the most influential pro-Israel voices in the world.
The renowned criminal lawyer, 73, has also been outspoken on animal rights, gun control and his support for acquiring warrants for torture.
From standing up to Jimmy Carter’s claims of Israeli apartheid to condemning anti-Semitism, Dershowitz’s influence is felt in the classroom, the courtroom and on the world stage. – Rachel Marder
46. Shari Arison, Businesswoman and philanthropist
Shari Arison was again the only Israeli woman to appear on Forbes magazine’s annual list of global billionaires this year, ranked 288th with a fortune of $3.9 billion. In 2011 she purchased her brother Micky’s shares in Arison Holdings, the investment company bequeathed to them by their father, Ted Arison.
As Arison Group owner, the 54-year-old controls a number of large Israeli companies including Bank Hapoalim and real estate group Shikun u’Binui. She also holds a stake in Carnival Cruises, owner of the Costa Concordia, the ship that ran aground off the coast of Italy in January.
Arison’s nonprofit organization Ruach Tova and the Ted Arison Family Foundation launched Good Deeds Day in Israel six years ago. Around 250,000 Israelis volunteered for Good Deeds Day on March 20 this year, and many more events were held around the world the same week as part of International Good Deeds Day.
– Nadav Shemer 
47. Noa Tishby, Actress
In the old days, the only Israeli names you would see connected to the American film industry were cigar-chomping producers like Arnon Milchan, Avi Lerner and Menachem Golan and his partner Yoram Globus. Model and actress Noa Tishby looks nothing like those guys, but has achieved a similar deal-making status in Hollywood.
Since becoming a household name as a teen in the TV series Ramat Aviv Gimmel, Tishby, 35, branched out into an international acting, modeling and singing career, appearing in films with Scarlett Johansson and Matthew McConaughey and nabbing roles in shows like HBO’s Big Love and ABC’s The Deep End.
But Tishby is also the person who, in 2007, brought the Israeli series B’tipul to HBO as In Treatment, which started the wave of US networks turning Israeli concepts into series. Serving as co-executive producer of the Emmy-nominated series, Tishby became a major player connecting Israeli and American film and TV executives.
Her production company, Noa’s Arc, is developing numerous television, film and theater projects from Israel and other parts of the world, and Tishby divides her time between Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, where, in everything she does, she acts as a goodwill ambassador for Israel. – David Brinn
48. David Wolpe, Rabbi
Rabbi David Wolpe is the hugely influential leader of the Sinai Temple Conservative Jewish community in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, one of the largest congregations in the US.
Wolpe, 53, is a prolific writer, having published seven books on different aspects of Jewish thought and contemporary religious issues. He also writes a regular column for The Huffington Post on religious affairs, is a frequent contributor to other media outlets and regularly provides analysis and commentary on CNN, CBS and other television networks.
Named by Newsweek as the No.1 most influential rabbi in the US, Wolpe also boasts a huge online following, with more than 28,000 devotees following, commenting and debating the numerous Torah ideas and vignettes he posts on a regular basis. – Jeremy Sharon
49. Josh Reinstein Director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus
Josh Reinstein, 34, is the father of “faith-based diplomacy,” connecting Christians to Israel as the director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus since its inception in 2004. The KCAC, which builds direct lines of communication and cooperation with Christian leaders around the world, has established 20 sister caucuses across the globe, including the 50-member Congressional Israel Allies Caucus.
Reinstein, who also serves as an external adviser to the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, believes that Christian support for Israel is vital to its interests.
As the producer and founder of Israel Now News, a half-hour TV weekly broadcast to 35 million Christians in 191 countries, Reinstein transforms Christian grassroots support into legislation. – Steve Linde
50. Nina Tassler President of CBS Entertainment
As president of CBS Entertainment, Nina Tassler determines the lineup of the massive network home to some of the biggest shows on television, including The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and The Young and the Restless.
But managing CBS sometimes means making difficult budget and time-slot decisions, like canceling CSI: Miami earlier this month, to the dismay of many fans. Tassler, 54, is also known as the highest profile Latina in network television and one of the few executives with the power to green-light a new series.
– Rachel Marder