Top 50 most influential Jews 2013: Places 41-50

Dr. Ruth Westheimer may be 84 years old and come from an Orthodox home in Germany, but she still offers one of the most progressive voices on sexual health and happiness for all ages.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer 370 (photo credit: Maxine Dovere)
Dr. Ruth Westheimer 370
(photo credit: Maxine Dovere)
41. Psychosexual therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Dr. Ruth Westheimer may be 84 years old and come from an Orthodox home in Germany, but she still offers one of the most progressive voices on sexual health and happiness for all ages.
The psychosexual therapist’s reach has been broad since 1980, when her radio program Sexually Speaking with Dr. Ruth hit the airwaves, and reached a wider audience in 1982 when it moved to TV. Westheimer answered questions from listeners and viewers honestly and respectfully, but always with her added zing and humor. She (and her accent) have become iconic, as she has written dozens of books and has been invited all over the world to answer individuals’ questions about sex and relationships.
Before she became a world-renowned figure, she was Karola Ruth Siegel, the child of Holocaust victims who made aliya at 17. She served in the Hagana, but moved to the US in 1956 to pursue her studies in sociology and sex therapy. In 2009, the 55th anniversary issue of Playboy named Westheimer No. 13 on the list of the 55 most important people in sex from the previous 55 years.
- Rachel Marder
42. JFNA Board of Trustees chairman Michael D. Siegal
A Cleveland-based businessman and philanthropist, Michael D. Siegal, 59, has since last year chaired the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America, which represents 156 Jewish federations and 300 network communities and raises some $3 billion annually for social welfare, social services and education. In November, he is set to host some 2,500 American Jewish leaders at the JFNA’s General Assembly in Jerusalem.
Siegal, who also chairs the board of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, is chairman and CEO of Olympic Steel, a successful publicly traded company based in Ohio, and is considered a national expert on the steel industry. He has previously served on several other nonprofit boards, including the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Joint Distribution Committee and Israel Bonds, where he was chairman of the board of trustees from 2007 to 2011. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland.
- Steve Linde
43. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
Nir Barkat, the popular and controversial mayor of Jerusalem, ran on an electrifying platform of peace and unity for the oft-divided city in 2008, replacing haredi mayor Uri Lupolianski after five years in office. Since then, the Jerusalem-born Barkat, 53, has aimed to strengthen the poorest city in Israel, woo international investors and sponsor a plethora of arts fairs and research conferences to make it an international center for science and culture.
He has overseen the city’s light rail construction and the visit of US President Barack Obama, and is preparing for racing organization Formula One’s visit in June. He is also planning to introduce a cable car to the Western Wall, which would change the way thousands of tourists visit the Kotel each year. Barkat has been a vocal supporter of a “united Jerusalem” as the heart and soul of the Jewish people in the face of negotiations with the Palestinians, and his city council continues to approve Jewish building projects in east Jerusalem, despite international protest.
“The capital of a sovereign nation cannot be expected to freeze growth rather than provide housing to families of all faiths eager to make their lives there,” he has said. With peace talks on the horizon, Barkat could significantly influence the fate of the capital on the world stage.
- Rachel Marder
44. Arava Power Company co-founder Yosef Abramowitz
Over the past year, Israel’s legendary “Captain Sunshine” Yosef Abramowitz has upgraded his vision of simply creating a solar powered Jewish state to harnessing energy from the sun’s rays for the vaster developing world.
As an immigrant to Israel from Boston, Abramowitz, 49, co-founded the Arava Power Company in 2006 with Ed Hofland and David Rosenblatt, bringing about the establishment of Israel’s first medium-sized solar field in 2011, at Kibbutz Ketura.
While Arava Power continues to expand a series of Israeli solar projects in the pipeline – including a large solar field across the street from Ketura and a medium-sized field in a Negev Beduin community – Abramowitz and his partners decided to aim beyond the state’s borders. In October, they launched the Jerusalem-based firm Energiya Global, which is already developing a utility-scale photovoltaic facility at Rwanda’s Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, a commercial solar field in the Galapagos island of San Cristobal and an eight-megawatt site in Romania.
Recognizing his status as an American-Israeli solar pioneer, CNN named him one of six global green pioneers in 2012, and a 30-minute program on his life was featured on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s The Next Last series earlier this month.
- Sharon Udasin
45. Restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi
At first glance they seem miles apart – an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Muslim – a rather unlikely partnership.
But upon taking a closer look, Yotam Ottolenghi, 44, and Sami Tamimi, have much more in common than they do not. The pair of chefs (who are both gay), were born the same year in Jerusalem, both moved to Tel Aviv as teens and later London in 1997, where they first met.
The rest, as they say, is history, and the duo opened their first restaurant together in 2002, and now operate five restaurants throughout London, whose revolutionary approach to fresh produce and spices The New Yorker says “has quietly changed the way people in Britain shop and cook and eat.”
Ottolenghi, whose first post-army job was at Haaretz, has written a weekly food column for The Guardian since 2005.
His third cookbook, Jerusalem, co-authored with Tamimi, was published last fall, and won both cookbook of the year and the international prize at both the International Association of Culinary Professionals awards and the James Beard Foundation Awards – the highest honors for cookbooks.
- Amy Spiro
46. Playwright Eve Ensler
Eve Ensler, a Tony-winning playwright, performer and activist, got women to think about their vaginas. If my vagina could talk, what would it say? What would it wear? What makes it angry? What makes it feel good?
The Vagina Monologues, which The New York Times called “probably the most important piece of political theater in the last decade,” has been translated into almost 50 languages and shown in over 140 countries since 1996.
Ensler, a survivor of sexual abuse, works to end violence against women around the world. She has written some 10 plays and five books about violence, trauma and female body image. Her 2010 book, I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World made The New York Times’s best-seller list. The Vagina Monologues inspired Ensler to launch V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls, held on Valentine’s Day since 1998. It has raised over $90 million.
Last year, she launched the One Billion Rising campaign on V-Day, mobilizing more than a billion people in 207 countries, including politicians, unions, civic leaders, actors and artists to express outrage against violence.
“When you bring consciousness to anything, things begin to shift,” she says.
 - Rachel Marder
47. Singer/songwriter Idan Raichel
Since 2002, Idan Raichel, 35, the Israeli singer/songwriter behind the Idan Raichel Project, has brought a Middle Eastern, Yemenite, African, Arab and reggae sound – at times incorporating Hebrew lines from the Psalms and the Song of Songs – to audiences around the world. With the 2013 release of his seventh album, Quarter to Six, Raichel, who was born in Kfar Saba, has confirmed his place on the global music scene. In 2010 the Project was called the musical group of the decade in Israel, and The Boston Globe noted Raichel for providing “a fascinating window into the young, tolerant, multi-ethnic Israel taking shape away from the headlines.”
Known for his diverse musical collaborations, Raichel has worked with Arab-Israeli singer Mira Anwar Awad, Ethiopian-Israeli singer Kabra Kasai and Colombian singer Marta Gomez, among many others.
 - Rachel Marder
48. Geneticist Prof. Ephrat Levy-Lahad
Prof. Ephrat Levy-Lahad, director of the department of medical genetics at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, helped make a key discovery of a gene, PS2, that causes Alzheimer’s disease while on fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1995. Levy-Lahad, a graduate of the Hebrew University- Hadassah Medical School, has devoted her life to the study of genetics of adult diseases, particularly cancer and Alzheimer’s. While continuing her studies in Israel, she also determined that a genetic change in the RAD51 gene significantly increases the risk of breast cancer in those with a BRCA2 mutation.
Levy-Lahad heads the pre-implantation genetic diagnosis lab at Shaare Zedek, which makes it possible to identify defects in embryos before performing in-vitro fertilization. She is co-chair of the Israel National Bioethics Council, and was a member of UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee from 2006 to 2009.

- Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
49. KKL-JNF chairman Efi Stenzler

Efi Stenzler, 60, has served since 2006 as the chairman of the Board of Directors of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, the oldest and largest environmental organization in Israel. The Rehovot-born Stenzler served as mayor of Givayatim from 1993 to 2006, simultaneously serving as chairman of the Planning and Construction Committee and as chairman of the Supplementary Training and Public Relations Committees of the Union of Local Authorities in Israel. He was appointed in 2002 as a member of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors. An internationally respected Jewish leader who sees his role as realizing David Ben- Gurion’s vision of making the desert bloom, he was awarded the title of “Distinguished Friend of Quality of the Environment” by the Parent Organization of the Green Organizations. The Jerusalem Post presented Stenzler with a certificate of appreciation for his contribution to the people and Land of Israel at its conference in New York on April 28.
- Steve Linde
50. The commisioners
The head honchos of the top professional sports leagues in America – three out of four of whom are Jewish – are given almost unilateral power in overseeing the day-to-day operations and long-term visions of their respective multi-billion dollar international organizations.
Allan “Bud” Selig, at 70 the elder statesman of this veteran triumvirate, has served since 1992 as the ninth commissioner of Major League Baseball, prior to which he was the team owner and president of his native Milwaukee Brewers. In his current role, he has guided baseball through the Steroid Era, the introduction of the wild card and interleague play as well as being instrumental in the inauguration of the World Baseball Classic. Selig also introduced revenue sharing to the league and is credited with the financial turnaround of baseball during his tenure, with a 400 percent increase in the revenue of MLB and annual record breaking attendance.
David Stern, 70, will be stepping down from his perch atop the National Basketball Association in 2014 after 30 years at the helm. Ushering basketball from the Showtime ’80s of Magic and Bird through the Jordan years of commercial bounty and well into the new millennium, Stern has always wielded his power in broad strokes and has garnered as many critics as fans throughout the years. Stern oversaw the creation of the WNBA and has increased league revenues 30-fold during his reign. The NBA is televised in 215 countries in 43 languages and continues to rise among the ranks of the mostwatched leagues globally, all primarily due to Stern’s leadership.
Formerly a cohort of Stern in the NBA, Gary Bettman, 60, has held the top post in the National Hockey League since 1993. Under Bettman, hockey has seen rapid growth of league revenues, from $400 million when he was hired to over $3 billion currently. He also oversaw the expansion of the sport’s footprint across the United States, with six new teams added during his tenure as well as the introduction of Olympic participation by NHL players.

- Uriel Sturm