Earlier this week at their annual Gala Dinner, The Algemeiner, released their list of the “Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life.”
The Gala itself, very much a pro-Israel affair, also honored Donald Trump and the late Joan Rivers. Accepting his award, Trump told the assembled guests to much appaluse: “I want to thank my Jewish daughter. I have a Jewish daughter. This wasn’t in the plan but I’m very glad it happened.”
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, converted to Judaism in 2009 before marrying real estate developer Jared Kushner.
As to the list itself, the paper had this to say: “Jewish sages, in particular, did not create such lists. Indeed, some actually dismissed the categorization of lists (even of the 13 Principles of Faith of Maimonides, let alone of a list of the “best” one thing or another…) It begs the uneasy question of how one can even attempt to measure the value of a person? Isn’t everyone a hero in some way? On what grounds can we presume to judge who is more valuable then the next?
With the J100 list we tried to create something more meaningful, a list aligned with our core mission: the 100 people who have the most positive impact on Jewish life and Israel, men and women, Jew or non-Jew, who have lifted the quality of Jewish life in the past year. Think of it this way: Without these J100 – either the individuals or the organizations they represent – Jewish life would not be at the caliber it is today.
Despite the artificial, superficial and sensational nature of any list, we sought to transform the information deluge of our times by using the list to shine a spotlight on those gems in our midst, those people who are making a real difference in other’s lives.
We also seek to inspire and motivate our young and the next generation, our future emerging leaders, in rising to the occasion and perpetuating the highest standards of our proud tradition and legacy – in serving and championing the cause of Jews and Israel. Because, as we know, when the quality of Jewish life is raised, the quality of all lives is raised.
However, the most exciting part of our work in choosing the J100, frankly, was sifting through hundreds of candidates and nominees to discover some surprising finalists. It was a joy to see the breadth of all those who merited a mention, to understand some of the great work being performed around the world on behalf of the Jewish people, and to celebrate their victories by bringing this great work to renewed public attention via this endeavor.”
It should come as no surprise to regular readers of eJP that we have strong positive feelings for Limmud. In fact, along with Taglit-Birthright Israel, we consider Limmud one of the most important educational initiatives to develop in recent years. Therefore we were happy to see that both last year, and this year, a key Limmud personality was named to The Algemeiner‘s J100. This year – Chaim Chesler, co-founder of LimmudFSU. Mazel tov Chaim!
From the bio: “Chaim Chesler, a long-time advocate for Soviet Jewry, is a founder of Limmud FSU, created to give young Russian-Jewish adults the chance to revitalize and restore Jewish learning and to strengthen Jewish identity in their communities. Limmud FSU will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2016; its educational conferences, have attracted more than 27,000 participants worldwide. Chesler has a long professional background in connection with Soviet Jewry. He previously served as executive director of the Israel Public Council for Soviet Jewry; headed the Jewish Agency’s delegation to the former Soviet Union and the United States; and served as the Jewish Agency’s treasurer.”