The 50 most influential Jews of 2014: 31-40

Moshe Kantor is known internationally for battling anti-Semitism and racism, and revitalizing Jewish life in Europe.

EJC President Moshe Kantor 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters)
EJC President Moshe Kantor 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters)
'The Jerusalem Post's' top 50 most influential Jews of: 1-10
'The Jerusalem Post's' top 50 most influential Jews of: 11-20
'The Jerusalem Post's' top 50 most influential Jews of: 21-30
31. Moshe Kantor
MOSHE KANTOR, a Russian Jewish entrepreneur, is the most powerful figure among European Jewry in his position as president of the European Jewish Congress. Last year, he spearheaded a successful campaign to quash the “quenelle” Nazi-salute gesture, initiated by French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala and popularized by controversial French soccer star Nicolas Anelka.
Born in Moscow, Kantor has homes in Moscow, London and Herzliya and plays a key role in countering anti-Semitism, the BDS movement and the demonization of Israel in Europe. He is known internationally for battling anti-Semitism and racism, and revitalizing Jewish life in Europe.
He has served as president of the EJC since 2007. The secular EJC is an umbrella organization for 40 national Jewish communities in Europe, encompassing 2.5 million Jews. Its goal is to address the world’s most pressing issues: protecting human rights, fighting xenophobia and anti-Semitism, promoting interfaith dialogue, implementing cultural and educational programs and remembering the Holocaust and other similar horrors that have claimed millions of lives.
In 2010 he inaugurated the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University. It provides an academic framework for the interdisciplinary research of European Jewry from the end of World War II until today, and offers a platform for the needs of researchers, students, governmental and civil service personnel, professionals, activists and the public, both in Israel and abroad, cooperating with European Jewish communities and leaders.
Kantor is also president of the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe and engaged in elaborating ways to stop nuclear proliferation and prevent catastrophe.
He serves on the boards of many communal and civic organizations and has made significant contributions to the development of essential European concepts, including the Model National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance.
• Steve Linde
Hershey Friedman (Courtesy)Hershey Friedman (Courtesy)
32. Hershey Friedman, Businessman, publisher, philanthropist
AN INTERNATIONAL businessman and philanthropist who spends a week to 10 days in Israel every month, Canadian billionaire Hershey Friedman purchased the ailing residential real-estate company Azorim in 2011 and turned it around to become one of Israel’s most exciting enterprises.
This type of business rescue is his specialty.
With his pious appearance and wise eyes, Friedman looks and sounds like a Talmudic genius as he sits in his Tel Aviv office and contemplates his vision for Azorim, and his commitment to the Jewish state.
“Israel is our true land. It is the land of our forefathers , Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” he declares in his Montreal Jewish accent. “Israel will always be there. Israel will always have a future.”
Practically born with business acumen, at 17 Friedman was propelled into managing the family business after his father was paralyzed in an accident. At 32, having studied law and accounting in the evening at Montreal College, Friedman took a company on the verge of bankruptcy and made it an enormous success. Over the years he bought two dozen more companies in the same industry as well as other industries with a turnover of billions of dollars.
Friedman gained a reputation for successful turnaround plans for companies in trouble.
He has been active in various sectors all over the world, especially in North America, eastern Europe and Israel. Friedman owns half of the business information company Dun & Bradstreet, Fourier, which produces solutions for scientific education, and CVD, a development company.
Besides his myriad business activities, Friedman is also one of the biggest Jewish philanthropists in the world. He has donated buildings in his family name in Israel, Canada and the US, and given generously to many institutions, including hospitals, schools, yeshivot and facilities for the disabled.
“Remember, I had a father who was disabled, so I know what it’s all about,” he says. “We have big budgets over here.”
Friedman has invested tens of millions of dollars in the publication of Judaica books, under the imprint “Mahadurat Friedman,” most of them produced and published in Israel. These include Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi, Shulhan Aruch and a new Mishnayot and Mishna Berura. He has also completed the Abir Yaacov, a series of books by Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira, comprising 25 volumes.
• Steve Linde
Ephrat Levy-Lahad (Courtesy)Ephrat Levy-Lahad (Courtesy)
33. Ephrat Levy-Lahad, Director of Shaare Zedek’s Department of Medical Genetics
KNOWN FOR being one of the first in Israel to start a program for genetic testing, Ephrat Levy-Lahad is the director of Shaare Zedek Medical Center’s Fuld Family Department of Medical Genetics in Jerusalem. Her inclination towards the study of genetics in Alzheimer’s and other adult diseases led her to the University of Washington in Seattle in 1995, where she was an integral part of the discovering team for the gene PS2 that is linked to the cause of Alzheimer’s.
With Levy-Lahad’s return to Israel, she has continued her studies, and as recently as this year she headed an international team that found a gene mutation connected to a possibly fatal genetic disorder. The mutation in the single gene causes inflammation of blood vessels in the immunocompromising disease polyarteritis nodosa. The disease is common among Georgian Jews, but has been found in non-Jews in Turkey and as far as Germany, as well as in Arabs.
In addition to being a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Levy-Lahad has published numerous papers in the field of genetics and has received awards including the Gertrude Kohn Prize for excellence in medical genetics in 1996. She is one of the world’s top authorities on inherited breast cancer. Levy-Lahad directs the Israel Breast Cancer Study, the sister project of the New York Breast Cancer Study, the two projects are sponsored by The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
• Menashe Koren
UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (Reuters)UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (Reuters)
34. Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Chief rabbi of Great Britain
EPHRAIM MIRVIS is the UK and British Commonwealth’s 11th chief rabbi since the office was established in 1704. Born in South Africa into a rabbinical family, he studied in three Israeli yeshivot, Kerem b’Yavne, Har Etzion and Machon Ariel.
While the Jewish population in the UK is just under 300,000, Mirvis is chief rabbi to the mainly London based United Synagogue with over 60 communities (representing about 55% of UK Jews registered with synagogues) with a membership of approximately 45,000 households. He also serves most Orthodox regional synagogues and his Commonwealth duties include Hong Kong. He was Ireland’s chief rabbi from 1984 to1992, and senior rabbi at north west London’s Finchley Synagogue from 1996 to 2013, where he healed local rifts by encouraging differing parts of the congregation to hold their own (parallel) services while successfully maintaining communal harmony. He also established a local Jewish primary school and the trail-blazing Kinloss Learning Center, a popular educational and cultural facility. Interfaith activities have played a significant part during his rabbinical career, he presided over the Irish Council of Christian and Jews (1985-1992) and has participated in numerous interfaith conferences; he was also chairman of the United Synagogue’s Rabbinical Council between 1999 and 2002. In 2012 Rabbi Mirvis appointed the United Kingdom’s first female halachic adviser at Finchley Synagogue and appears to want to advance the role of women in Jewish life.
He is knowns as a “people’s rabbi” and his sermons are inspirational and lively. Rabbi Mirvis has not allowed those on the religious Right to dictate his agenda. Despite their vocal opposition he pointedly attended last December’s Limmud annual conference (a cross communal five-day mainly residential event giving participants wide opportunities to hear Jewish speakers, study and be entertained as they research their Jewish roots), becoming the first chief rabbi so to do. And on Jewish political issues which do not require a halachic basis, it appears he makes his own decisions without deferring to the London Beth Din. He concentrates on facing inwards towards the Jewish community and wants to extend links to other sectors of the Jewish community.
• Jerry Lewis
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (Courtesy)Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (Courtesy)
35. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Former chief rabbi of Great Britain
RABBI LORD JONATHAN SACKS is a high-profile, much respected, admired and liked former UK chief rabbi (1991 to 2013) and an eloquent spokesman for Anglo-Jewry. He is considered one of the best public speakers, if not the best, in the Jewish world, and is a strong supporter of Israel.
A global religious leader, philosopher, author and moral voice for our time, Sacks is currently the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University.
He has won several international awards, including the Jerusalem Prize in 1995 for his contribution to Diaspora Jewish life, and most recently, on June 2, he received the prestigious Guardian of Zion Award from the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
Born in London in 1948, Sacks read philosophy at Cambridge, later achieving a doctorate, and gained semicha in London. He has 16 honorary degrees, has written over 25 books including new editions of the siddur and mahzorim with his own commentaries. Sacks made Jewish renewal his priority and oversaw a major expansion of Jewish formal education partially precipitated by interest in his book, Will we have Jewish Grandchildren? He is the author of some 25 books.
He was knighted in 2005 and elevated to the House of Lords in 2009. As co-president of the Council of Christians and Jews, Sacks was the first British chief rabbi to ensure non-Orthodox Rabbis were included in its leadership and he became the first rabbi to address the influential Church of England’s Lambeth Conference. He once said that the creation of Limmud was one of his crowning achievements.
Prince Charles said Sacks was “a light unto this nation” and a “valued adviser,” one whose “guidance on any given issue has never failed to be of practical value and deeply grounded in the kind of wisdom that is increasingly hard to come by.”
Prime Minister David Cameron called Sacks not just “a leader for Jewish people but for all of us,” and former prime minister Tony Blair described him as “an intellectual giant” who has made an “extraordinary and outstanding contribution not just to British and international Jewry but to British and international public life.”
Former prime minister Gordon Brown posed the question, “How do you sum up someone who is the greatest scholar you know, the greatest philosopher, the greatest writer, and one of the greatest thinkers in the world?” Rabbi Sacks and his wife, Elaine, have three children, Joshua, Dina and Gila, and grandchildren.
• Jerry Lewis
Abraham Foxman (Wikimedia Commons)Abraham Foxman (Wikimedia Commons)
36. Abe Foxman, National director of the Anti-Defamation League
THE KING is stepping down.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League since 1987, will step down from his post effective July of next year.
Foxman, a Holocaust survivor hidden as a child during the war, who later immigrated to the United States with his parents, began his career with the ADL in 1965 after graduating from the City University of New York and New York University School of Law.
He rose through the ranks and in 1987 was tapped as national director. During his tenure, the ADL continued to grow as the premier organization fighting anti-Semitism, bigotry and discrimination with 30 regional offices across the US and an office in Israel. The league celebrated its centennial in 2013.
His recently unveiled ADL 100, a ranking of anti-Semitic sentiments in 100 countries and territories around the world, made global headlines, sparking widespread anger, denials and discussion. A vocal critic of anti-Semites, homophobes, racists and bigots, Foxman has fought not only for Jewish causes but for minorities both in the US and abroad. Most recently, he has spoken out not only against the rise of the far Right in Europe, where hard Right parties gained a significant plurality in the continental legislature, but against normally Jew-friendly regimes that he says are not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism.
Foxman is certainly no shrinking violent, even when it comes to confronting the US, recently telling The Jerusalem Post that US concerns about Israeli tourist espionage are ‘hypocritical, almost irrational.”
Without Foxman at the helm, will the ADL continue to enjoy the same level of international relevance and prestige? Only time will tell.
• Sam Sokol
Idan Raichel (Hadas Parush)Idan Raichel (Hadas Parush)
37. Idan Raichel, Musician and cultural ambassador for Israel
THE ARCHITECT of The Idan Raichel Project is a keyboardist, producer and composer from Kfar Saba, born into a family with Eastern European roots. The musical project was inaugurated in 2003, offering a glimpse into an Israel that was creative, tolerant and multi-ethnic. Raichel began to invite collaborations from diverse artists, becoming Israel’s greatest musical breakthrough with half a million albums sold worldwide. The Project has performed at prestigious venues including New York’s Central Park Summer Stage, Radio City Music Hall and Apollo Theater, Los Angeles’s Kodak Theater and Sydney’s Opera House as well as across Europe, Central and South America, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana and dozens of other countries for enraptured audiences of all backgrounds. It has released four studio albums and a 3-CD collection of live recordings in Israel on the Helicon label.
Raichel and Grammy-award winner India Arie have worked on a joint project Open Door, performing together at the Kennedy Center in Washington in front of President Barack Obama on Martin Luther King, Jr.
Day in 2008, at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize gala in Oslo, and in 2011 at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington.
The Idan Raichel Project’s latest album, Quarter to Six, released in 2013, features Palestinian-Israeli singer Mira Awad among others. The Project performed at a private concert for Obama during his visit to Israel in 2013.
• Jerusalem Post staff
Lena Dunham (Courtesy)Lena Dunham (Courtesy)
38. Lena Dunham TV director, writer, producer and star
THERE IS something to be said for the fact that in this age of ADHD entertainment – where the trajectory of an entertainer’s rise and fall can be tracked in the span of a few weeks – Lena Dunham is still on the lips of both young New York hipsters and television critics alike.
For the past two years, Dunham made waves with her HBO series Girls, which she directs, writes, coproduces and stars in. This, year, however, she mostly drew headlines strictly based on her persona.
Case in point: a Vogue cover shoot, which later blew up on the Internet when feminist blogging site Jezebel offered to shell out $10,000 to whoever could supply the blog with un-Photoshopped images of her from the shoot.
Jezebel got the photos, posted them... and it turned out only minimal Photoshopping was done at all. The entire episode led to an Internet/ media controversy about body image and our expectations of how celebrities should look. “They made such a monumental error in their approach to feminism.... It felt gross,” Dunham said in an interview with Bill Simmons for Grantland, a few weeks after the controversy broke.
However, Dunham didn’t spend the year only battling Internet naysayers. This October she looks to test the literary waters with her memoir/advice book, Not That Kind of Girl. Random House reportedly shelled out a whopping $3.7 million for the book, an astronomical figure in today’s book industry. At 28, is Dunham too young to release a memoir? Probably. But her Girls fan base of 20- and 30-something women is bound to lap up of every word of it.
• Noa Amouyal
George Soros (Reuters)George Soros (Reuters)
39. George Soros, Financier, speculator, political activist
KNOWN AS pro-Palestinian and a fervent critic of Israeli policy, the billionaire financier who once said that Israeli and American policies fuel anti-Semitism is reportedly a major donor to the left-wing J Street lobby but he has also become a key investor in top Israeli companies.
George Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC. As a hugely successful businessman, his views on investing and economic issues are widely followed. Soros Fund Management LLC recently bought $24.3 million shares of Soda- Stream International Ltd., the Israeli maker of home soda machines based in New York. He also increased his stake in Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., already its largest holding, to 5.8 percent of the total.
Born in Budapest in 1939 as Schwartz György Soros, he settled in New York in 1956 and changed his name to George Soros. Ever since, he has been a prominent international supporter of democratic ideals and liberal causes for more than 30 years.
His philanthropic organization, the Open Society Foundations, supports democracy and human rights in over 70 countries.
Soros survived both the Nazi occupation and the subsequent Battle of Budapest before traveling to England in 1947 to study at the London School of Economics. He worked as a railway porter and a waiter to support himself and received a grant from a Quaker charity.
Soros, whose net worth today is around $26.5 billion, completed his studies with a PhD in philosophy in 1954. Two years later he moved to New York.
By 1970, he had created Soros Fund Management, which advises the Quantum Fund he also founded and is reputed to be one of the most successful hedge funds of all time.
It has generated more than $40b. over the past four decades. In 1992, Soros became known as the man who broke the Bank of England through selling short on the rate of exchange of $10b. worth of sterling.
When apartheid was in force in South Africa, Soros provided funds to help indigenous African students to attend university.
His also spent 30 years working on behalf of the Roma people.
Soros began funding dissident groups in Eastern Europe before the fall of the Iron Curtain, and subsequently helped promote nonviolent democratization in countries of the former Soviet Union, particularly in Hungary. His philanthropy is global and includes scientific research, education, legal representation, legalization of marijuana and free open societies.
The latest of his 14 books is The Tragedy of the European Union.
Soros has often critiqued Israeli government policy. His Open Society Foundation supports organizations such as Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, as well as Israeli political NGOs such as Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence and Adalah, which portray Israel as a racist and apartheid state.
• Greer Fay Cashman
Vladimir Sloutsker (Steve Linde)Vladimir Sloutsker (Steve Linde)
40. Vladimir Sloutsker, Co-founder and president of Israeli Jewish Congress
VLADIMIR SLOUTSKER is co-founder and president of The Israeli Jewish Congress (IJC) and chairman of the Management Board of European Friends of Israel (EFI), one of the largest and most influential pro-Israel parliamentary groups in Europe, with over 1,500 members.
From 2002 to 2010 he was a senator in the Russian Federation Senate and vice chairman of the Senate Committee on National Policy and Relations with Religious Organizations in the Russian Federation.
From 2004 to 2006 he served as president of the Russian Jewish Congress, focusing on strengthening the Russian Jewish community.
EFI has successfully lobbied the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, signed the ACAA agreement, the Horizon 20/20 and Green Energy agreements between the EU and Israel. It also raises awareness of the Iranian nuclear threat and presents Israel’s perspective of the conflict with the Palestinians.
This year it led European Parliamentarians and a Knesset delegation to Auschwitz.
The goal of IJC is to “promote the principle of Israel as the State of the Jewish People and strengthen ties between Israel and the Diaspora, especially in Europe, by creating a bridge to the Jewish state and giving the European Jewish community a voice with Israeli lawmakers.”
Last year the EFI and IJC helped relaunch the European Forum of the Knesset to strengthen relations between Europe and Israel. The IJC has also joined with the Jewish Federations of North America to create a permanent dialogue between the Jewish communities of Europe, North America and Israel to strengthen Jewish life and connection to Israel.
• Steve Linde
'The Jerusalem Post's' top 50 most influential Jews of: 41-50