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November 20, 2006

The modern Elders

A few weeks ago, the Forward came out with its annual list of 50 Jews that have the biggest impact on the lives of American Jews. Actually, this year's list had 51 on it, but who's counting?

This year's headliners are incoming-chancellor of JTS Arnold Eisen, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rahm Emanuel, New York Senator Charles Schumer, ADL national director Abraham Foxman, AJWS chair Ruth Messigner and late-night TV host Jon Stewart.

You can check out the enitre list here. I just wanted to list a few notable people that I a) have heard of, b) didn't realize that they were Jewish, or c) was surprised at their selection.

• After losing a primary but winning his seat, Connecticut senator Joseph Lieberman makes the list (think about it, he was just a few hundred Florida votes from become the vice president).
• The death of Satmar rebbe Moshe Teitelbaum in May touched off months of debate over his successor. His third son, Zalman, won a court ruling in July that, effectively, put him in charge of one of the Hasidic world's largest and most powerful sects.
• The head honcho of the Orthodox Union's Kosher Division, Rabbi Menachem Genack, faced a scandal-filled year that included complaints about an Iowa slaughterhouse and reports that an upstate New York kosher distributor was selling nonkosher meat. (Did you know that the Kosher Division of the OU has 550 employees? When will they re-hechsher my French's onions?)
• David Harris (no not that David Harris), the president of the American Jewish Communities had his normal busy duties and took the lead in combatting genocide in Darfur.
• Sacha Baron Cohen, of Da Ali G fame, released his hit film about his Kazakh persona Borat Sagdiyev. It has entertained and offended crowds worldwide. And after he stole the Shmooze Club's idea, the first annual Running of the Jew down South University to replace the Naked Mile will be cancelled.
• Scarlett Johanson. Who knew she was Jewish, but we'll take her?
• Jeremy Piven made the list for his riveting performance in the Bar Mitzvah flick "Keeping up with the Steins." (What? He's also on a popular tv show about posses.)
• Elie Weisel. Do I have to say anymore? He should have a reserved spot on this list, unless he already does.
• Every time a good Jewish basketball player makes any sort of national news, he gets the moniker "Jewish Jordan" (I guess people like the alliteration). Either way, he is the most successful Jewish ball player since Danny Ferry. Except that Danny Ferry's street cred was non-existent (he played on Mike Fratello's Cleveland squads and with San Antonio) and Jordan Farmar plays for the Lakers and has tatoo.
• Inmate Jack Abramoff made the list. According to The Forward, Abramoff walked out of court in Jaunary wearing a fedora from a habadasher that specializes in stomels. He is more known for being a dirty lobbyist.
• The list's plus one addition is former Virginia senator George Allan. Who knew he was Jewish? Apparently, not him.

Posted by irobi at November 20, 2006 02:28 AM

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