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11-14-2005 08:31 AM CET | Leisure, Entertainment, Miscellaneous

Press release from: Forward

The Forward 50

The Forward 50

NEW YORK – November 11 – The Forward, American Jewry’s newspaper of record, today announced its highly-awaited “FORWARD 50” List of the most influential Jewish Americans – an enlightening and controversial membership that will be published on Friday, November 11, 2005.

This year’s Top Five, as diverse as the entire list itself, includes Steven Spielberg, Hasidic Hip Hop sensation Matisyahu, Middle East envoy James Wolfensohn, Bush-lauded head of the American Jewish World Service, Ruth Messinger, and America’s most influential Jewish lawmaker, Sen. Arlen Specter.

In addition to the Top Five, this year’s most influential list features individuals whose influence falls within specific areas: Culture, Religion, Philanthropy, Community, Advocacy, Politics and Public Square.

According to Forward Editor-In-Chief J.J. Goldberg, “Two distinct trends were evident in our listing this year. One was the growing number of major American artists and entertainers who are publicly embracing their Jewishness and letting it inform their work - in film, television, comedy, popular music and Internet blogging.”

Along with Top 5’s Spielberg and Matisyahu, notable examples are “Fake News” Jon Stewart (Leibowitz) of Comedy Central’s ‘Daily Show’; potty-mouthed standup comic Sarah Silverman, media bloggers Jessica Coen and Jesse Oxenfeld of, as well as novelist Philip Roth.
“A second theme reflected the growing trend within the Jewish community of grass-roots humanitarian activism. People young and old were reaching out to the community and beyond it, looking for some way to help heal the fractured world - and in surprising numbers, finding it,” Goldberg adds. Goldberg points to the past year as “framed by disasters,” beginning with a horrifying tsunami that swept South Asia and ending with a string of storms that destroyed New Orleans and ravaged south Florida.

Admittedly, many of the exceptional members are known mostly within the Jewish community. Some of these individuals include Rabbi Stanton Zemek, who turned his Baton Rouge, Louisiana synagogue into a round-the-clock evacuee processing center; Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, who has emerged as the most important leader of the Lubavitch Hasidic movement, and 75-year-old Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, whose Orthodox advocacy organization brought out 120,000 people one night last March in 70 stadiums around the world to celebrate Talmud study.

The Forward 50 is not based on a scientific survey or a democratic election. Names have been suggested by readers and by the Forward staff. Each year's compilation is a journalistic effort to record some of the trends and events in American Jewish life in the year just ended and to illuminate some of the individuals likely to be in the news in the year ahead.

Membership in the 50 doesn't mean the Forward endorses what these individuals do or say. They were chosen because they are doing and saying things that are making a difference in the way American Jews, for better or worse, view the world and themselves. Not all of them have put their energies into the traditional framework of Jewish community life, but all of them have consciously pursued Jewish activism as they understand it, and all of them have left a mark.

Please visit for the complete list of the Forward 50 membership for 2005 or email for a PDF file of the article.

The Forward is widely regarded as American Jewry’s essential newspaper of record. Published since 1990, the English language weekly grew out of the legendary Yiddish language Jewish Daily Forward, founded in 1897. The Forward is committed to rigorous reporting and balanced, thoughtful commentary on news, politics and culture in the Jewish world. The Forward's editor, veteran journalist and author J.J. Goldberg, and his staff have enhanced the paper's reputation for incisive, hard-hitting reportage with a populist, progressive spirit that has been the paper’s hallmark since its early days. Headquartered in New York, the newspaper is owned by the Forward Association, Inc., a 501(c) (4) corporation. It is published on Fridays and is available on newsstands nationwide, as well as by subscription.

# # #

Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications

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