Top 50 most influential Jews 2013: Places 11-20

One of the most conservative members of the House and a darling of the Tea Party movement, Eric Cantor remains the only Jewish Republican in Congress.

Eric Cantor with PM Netanyahu 311 (R) (photo credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
Eric Cantor with PM Netanyahu 311 (R)
(photo credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
11. US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
Eric Cantor, the majority leader of the US House of Representatives, is the highest- ranking Jewish member in its history. Cantor, 49, a representative from Virginia, is also one of the party’s top fundraisers, raking in millions of dollars during campaigns for the Republican Party.
One of the most conservative members of the House and a darling of the Tea Party movement, Cantor remains the only Jewish Republican in Congress.
He has been outspoken in his strong support of Israel, saying at the AIPAC conference in March that “Israel’s security goes hand in hand with America’s security.”
Cantor has been credited with twice talking Speaker of the House John Boehner out of compromising on a budget deal with US President Barack Obama, both in 2011 and on the fiscal cliff deal last year.
Since Obama won reelection, Cantor has said he is looking forward to working with the president in his new term, and even writing the entry for Vice President Joe Biden in the Time 100 list, saying Biden “creates opportunities for future collaboration.”
Congressional Republicans will all have their eyes on Cantor going forward as they look for leadership and direction.
-Amy Spiro
12. US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan
Elena Kagan, 53, has always been a trailblazer.
From the first bat mitzva held at the Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan to the first female dean of Harvard Law School and later first woman solicitor- general of the United States, Kagan has left her mark. And she is poised to make history again, as the Supreme Court, on which she has been a sitting justice since 2010, reviews one of its most prominent cases in recent years: the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act: basically, the legal status of gay marriage. A decision isn’t expected until late June, but Kagan’s voice has been especially prevalent in the transcripts of the case’s arguments, pointing out that marriage’s sole purpose cannot be defined as procreation and that DOMA was originally enacted due to “moral disapproval.”
As Sandra Day O’Connor pointed out when she wrote Kagan’s entry on the Time 100 list this year, “the truth is that every Supreme Court justice has but one vote to cast and eight colleagues” (two of whom, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, are also Jewish). “What makes a justice particularly influential,” O’Connor continued, “is the ability to persuade the others to agree... in that respect, [she] has what it takes to be a highly influential Supreme Court justice.”
- Amy Spiro
13. Film director Steven Spielberg
After winning three Academy Awards, receiving six different lifetime achievement awards and being called “the greatest film director of all time,” nobody would blame Steven Spielberg for resting on his laurels. But the filmmaker, 66, has done just the opposite. After rocketing to fame with blockbuster hits Jaws, E.T. and Jurassic Park, Spielberg received great critical acclaim for cinematic masterpieces Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and Munich. Just this past year, he directed and produced Lincoln, one of the year’s most critically acclaimed films, which was nominated for 12 Academy Awards.
His next project, set to start filming early next year, will be an adaptation of the novel American Sniper, about a US Navy SEAL, starring Bradley Cooper.
And Spielberg, worth an estimated $3.2 billion, has turned his fame and fortune to philanthropic pursuits as well, most notably the Shoah Foundation and the Righteous Persons Foundation, inspired by his work on Schindler’s List. He is also the co-founder of the Starbright Children’s Foundation, which aims to improve the life of chronically ill children.
- Amy Spiro
14. New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson
If anyone had doubts about Jill Abramson’s ability to take the helm of the Grey Lady two years ago, they’ve since been erased. In the past year, Abramson, 59, the first female executive editor in the history of The New York Times, oversaw the paper as it received four Pulitzer Prizes (its third-highest haul in history) and jumped 18 percent in subscribers – vaulting it past USA Today to become the second-largest US newspaper – as most other media outlets saw a decline. In the past year the Times has also added a Chinese-language news site, announced the addition of a Portuguese-language site, and launched its first major online redesign since 2006, which will roll out in full later this year.
Abramson, a Harvard graduate, worked for Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal before joining The New York Times and rising through the ranks to executive editor. She was recently ranked No. 5 on the Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women, and named to Foreign Policy’s list of the 500 most powerful people in the world – the only media figure on the list. Foreign Policy managing editor Blake Hounshell told Politico that Abramson made its list because “the editorial decisions she makes reverberate around the globe.”
-Amy Spiro
15. Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett
16. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
‘The thing I really care about is the mission, making the world open,” Mark Zuckerberg told Wired magazine in 2010. Three years later, and nearly a decade after Zuckerberg, 28 – along with four fellow students at Harvard – launched the social media platform Facebook, the world has taken huge strides in accomplishing that mission. Facebook has connected more people in more ways than practically anyone would have expected – it has more than 1 billion active users – with Zuckerberg as its chairman and CEO.
And Zuckerberg’s financial success (he is worth an estimated $13.3 billion), has been matched by his philanthropic inclinations: In 2010, he signed the “Giving Pledge” along with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, promising to donate at least half of his wealth to charity over his lifetime and inviting other wealthy notables to follow suit.
In February, Zuckerberg held his first-ever fundraising event for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and last month he led the launch of the lobbying group, along with several other Silicon Valley business leaders. The group will focus on technological advancement, American immigration reform, education in the US and oil and gas development.
With his wealth, connections and innovative outlook, Zuckerberg’s foray from social media to social issues will likely make him a force to be reckoned with.
-Yitzchak Besser
17. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
It is anyone’s guess what Michael Bloomberg will choose as the stage for his next act. The outgoing mayor of New York has kept tight-lipped on his plans, though no one expects retirement for the 71-year-old multi-billionaire.
One thing has changed in the last year: If one of the wealthiest politicians in the country had eyes on nationwide office, he may have voided those chances by pushing hard for widely criticized policies such as banning large sodas and hiding cigarettes from view in local corner stores.
Bloomberg demonstrated strong friendship with Israel this year when he granted the Technion an extraordinary opportunity to replicate its successes as a tech hub in northern Israel on Roosevelt Island, in partnership with Cornell University. But his influence can be seen far beyond New York, as his media empire continues to gain respect, value and profit, and he does not shy away from taking stands on issues important to him. In the past few months, Bloomberg sunk $12 million (of his considerable $27 billion net worth) into a TV and video campaign urging senators to vote for stronger gun control laws, through his organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Whether or not he moves forward after an historic mayorship in philanthropy, government or media, the scramble for a piece of his influence and fortune is guaranteed.
-Michael Wilner
18. Girls creator Lena Dunham
The creator and star of the hugely popular HBO series Girls has found herself at the center of feminist praise and pop culture criticism since the first season premiered in April 2012. New York City native Lena Dunham, 26, has been accused of defiantly flaunting her imperfect body on the show’s two seasons and cheered for offering a humorous and realistic look at four self-centered and floundering women in their 20s struggling with their job and love prospects.
Dunham, who is providing a controversial voice for her generation, is an innovative new writer in Jewish comedy making Hollywood squirm, but at the same time ask what’s next. The woman Rolling Stone called “Larry David’s sicko granddaughter” has garnered four Emmy nominations for her roles in acting, writing and directing the series last year and two Golden Globe wins for best comedy and best lead actress in a comedy. In February 2013, she became the first woman to win a Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Director in a Comedy Series for her work on Girls. Dunham signed a $3.5 million book deal last fall with Random House to publish an essay collection called Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned. Love her or hate her, the world wants to know what Dunham has learned and what she wants to teach us.
-Rachel Marder
19. EJC President Moshe Kantor
Last November Dr. Moshe Kantor was re-elected for a third term by the leaders of 42 Jewish communities in Europe as president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), the umbrella organization of European Jewry. During 2012, Kantor redoubled his efforts as EJC president and as co-chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation to fight anti-Semitism and racism, promote tolerance and warn against the dangerous rise of neo-Nazi parties in European parliaments.
In his regular meetings with EU leaders, Kantor, 59, has pushed for the bloc to actively fight against these parties within European Union institutions and across the continent. He is currently working on securing support in both the European Parliament and the Council of Europe to promote a plan among European leaders for education-legislation-intelligence cooperation and stronger enforcement to combat hate and intolerance. Following the murders at the Jewish school in Toulouse in March 2012, and the attacks on Jewish communities which followed, Kantor and the EJC were instrumental in forming a task force for security coordination in the Jewish communities to ensure intelligence and experience sharing and better security measures for the Jewish communities.
Kantor’s work earned him the Italian Knight’s Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, the highest decoration given to a non-Italian, adding to other major awards he has received in recent years from other European heads of state, including France’s prestigious Légion d’Honneur.
-Steve Linde
20. UK Labor Party leader Ed Miliband
On his way to the top, Ed Miliband, 43, had to step on a few heads. It just so happened that one of them was his brother, David, whom he only narrowly edged out in a runoff for leader of the UK Labor Party in 2010. Now heading the second largest party in the House of Commons, as well as serving as leader of the opposition, Miliband is a likely candidate for prime minister in the next UK election, which will be held at the latest in 2015.
When he was elected at age 40, Miliband was the youngest person ever to lead the Labor Party, and he is credited with maintaining party unity after the fractious primary. He has recently expressed plans to move the party in a different direction from his predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.
In March, Miliband, the son and grandson of Holocaust survivors, declared himself a supporter of Israel, and stated he is opposed to boycotts of the Jewish state, though he has expressed criticism of settlements.
-Amy Spiro
Top 50 most influential Jews 2013: Places 21-30Top 50 most influential Jews 2013: Places 31-40Top 50 most influential Jews Places 41-50