Story-ideas-1011172

Top 14 Jews in the US news during 5776

  • 5777 T HOME
Who knew a Jewish candidate is on next month's US election ballot. And she supports BDS! 5776's top newsmakers include politicians and their families, an Olympic great, the release of a 30-year prisoner, a current Israeli trial, Sharansky sorting out two inter-stream balegans, and the world's oldest man. Then there's the Sheldon & DWS political issues, the jailed Orthodox New York Assembly speaker sent to the "Big House" for a dozen of the best, and, finally, the 2 sexy TV stars who have added hip Yiddishkeit to homes worldwide.
by ANT KATZ | Oct 04, 2016

US Jewish news wire service the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) made a list of which Jews made the biggest news in the United States media over 5776. Of course, their list is America-centric. Jewish Report published its own "Issues and Jews in the News" every December which covers the local media.

These fourteen picks are there from issues such as the US presidential election to Israel, here is JTA's list of Jews who earned headlines during the past 12 months, for their accomplishments, blunders, mitzvot, missteps or any of the myriad of others reasons people make the news.



Bernie Sanders

5777 t Bernie Sanders


Senator Bernie Sanders in Concord waving on the day of the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

First on the list is the first Jewish candidate to win a major party’s presidential primary. Once considered the longest of shots, the septuagenarian senator rode a wave of enthusiasm among young voters and took his insurgent campaign all the way to the Democratic National Convention, garnering more than 40 percent of primary votes. The Vermont Independent pushed rival Hillary Clinton to the left on a range of issues. He also broke ground by criticizing Israel in ways seldom heard from a mainstream candidate. 

(Did you know there is an anti-Israel Jew actually running for US President? SEE BELOW)



Ivanka Trump

5777 T Ivanka Trump


Ivanka Trump speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, DC, last October (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc)

For Jewish Americans, one of the most fascinating parts of Donald Trump’s unorthodox campaign is his Orthodox Jewish daughter, IVANKA. A self-styled champion of working women and erstwhile friend of CHELSEA CLINTON,

Ivanka has become one of her father’s most prominent surrogates. She’s added a softer touch to an often brash campaign, and has influenced her father on women’s issues. Married to developer and key Trump adviser Jared Kushner, she has proved to be one of the campaign’s main weapons in defending her father against charges that he countenances anti-Semitism.

Also read: Trump daughter Tiffany dating a Jewish Democrat Ross Mechanic



Anat Hoffman

5777 T anat hoffman


Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman at the Western Wall, February 7, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

For decades, Hoffman has led the fight for women to host prayers at the Kotel (Western Wall). And after years of being arrested, pelted with eggs and shouted at, her group, Women of the Wall, grew closer than ever to its goal this year.

After three years of negotiations, Israel’s Cabinet approved a plan to expand and upgrade the site’s non-Orthodox prayer section. But the controversy is far from over: Implementation of the deal has been stalled amid political wrangling for months, while some feminists complain the compromise represented a capitulation to the Wall’s Orthodox authorities.

Related reads on JR Online on: ANAT HOFFMAN



Aly Raisman

5777 T Aly Raisman


Aly Raisman competing on the uneven bars at the Rio Olympics in August (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The favourite US Jewish gymnast didn’t disappoint at last summer’s Rio games. At 22, Raisman was the US women’s gymnastic team captain and its oldest member (her nickname: Grandma). In addition to helping the Americans win team gold again, Raisman took the silver medal in the all-around and floor exercises, adding to the two golds and one bronze she won in 2012. Raisman has vowed to return in 2020. Hopefully her delightfully nervous parents will go come along, too.

Related reads on JR Online on: ALY RAISMAN



Jonathan Pollard

5777 T Jonathan pollard


Jonathan and Esther Pollard following his release from prison on November 20, 2015 (Courtesy of Justice for Jonathan Pollard)

Last November, a long-running saga ended between the American Jewish establishment and the United States government. Pollard, a civilian Navy intelligence employee arrested in 1985 for spying for Israel, was paroled after serving 30 years in a federal prison.

At first an embarrassment to Jewish leaders, Pollard in recent years began to be seen as a martyr by some Jews who protested his long prison term. His ongoing imprisonment was also on the agenda of every top-level diplomatic interactions between Israel and the US for several years. On his release Pollard was denied the right to move to Israel, where his wife had resided for many years fighting for his freedom, but he is allowed to surf the internet. 

Related reads on JR Online on: JONATHAN POLLARD



Elor Azaria

5777 T azaria


Israeli soldier Elor Azaria at a military court hearing in Jaffa on  August 30 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A story less familiar to South Africans is that of this trial which has gripped the world.

As Israeli security forces struggled to stem a wave of stabbings this year, Israeli soldiers drew criticism for what some observers - including inside the military - called a disproportionate response. The fact is, in learning to fight this new type of terrorism, the IDF has prevailed and, despite several reports of attempted attacks every week - down from dozens at one stage - for the most part they have the matter in hand. Almost all reports, today, end with the victim slightly injured or no injury - while the attackers are invariably listed as "neutralised".

No case proved more controversial than that of Azaria, a 19-year-old soldier who killed a Palestinian assailant lying wounded on the ground. Azaria’s case, which is still in trial, has divided Israel. Critics say he broke the rules of engagement. His defenders say he was doing his job.



Sheldon Silver

5777 T Silver

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arriving at the courthouse in New York, November 2015 (Seth Wenig/AP Images)

Another story that readers outside of the US may know little or nothing about, is that of the man who was the all-powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly and is now serving a 12-year prison sentence.

Silver, 72, is an Orthodox Jew who gained a reputation as one of New York’s foremost power brokers during more than two decades in the speaker’s post. A Democrat from Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Silver was arrested in 2015 on seven counts of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering. He was convicted last November and sentenced to his dozen years behind bars in May. Lamenting the length of the sentence, The Jewish Press, a newspaper serving New York’s Orthodox community, said his fate is relevant to New York Jewry due to “his extraordinary legislative achievements which revolutionised the way members of the Jewish community are able to go about their everyday lives without having to sacrifice the practice of … their faith.”


Debbie Wasserman Schultz

5777 T DWS

Debbie Wasserman Schultz sitting for an interview at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort prior to the first Democratic presidential debate last October (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

This one most Jews worldwide who follow the media regularly - and all who are following the US Presidential Elections play out - should know about. The meteorically-rising Jewish star in the Democratic Party suffered a swift fall.

Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida congresswoman who once said she voted as “a Jewish mother,” began serving as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2011. She had powerful allies and a famous fundraising prowess. But right before this year’s Democratic National Convention, leaked e-mails showed her staffers strategising against Sanders during the presidential nomination race. Instead of taking the issue to the convention, Wasserman Schultz resigned her post just prior to its beginning. Although she did win her Democratic primary this year.



Rabbi Haskel Lookstein

5777 T sharansky lookstein

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, left, protested on behalf of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein after a conversion performed by the prominent modern Orthodox spiritual leader was rejected by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. (Ben Sales)

Rarely does a retired octogenarian rabbi make this much news. Lookstein, the former rabbi of the posh Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Orthodox synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, was at the centre of two controversies this year. Again, world Jewry was not privy to these mainly US-interest stories.

First, a conversion he supervised was declared invalid by Israel’s Chief Rabbinical Court, causing further friction between Israel and Diaspora Jewry - and required the intervention of the Jewish Agency's chairman, Natan Sharansky, to calm matters down. Apart from his exceptionally busy day-job, the JA head is the Israeli government's go-to guy when it comes to the tough issue of meeting the needs of all religious streams. It was Sharansky who was tasked some years ago with coming up with a solution for non-Orthodox prayers at the Kotel.

Then Lookstein, who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s Jewish conversion, agreed to deliver the opening invocation at the Republican National Convention. Following an outcry over what critics called an implicit endorsement of Donald Trump, Lookstein withdrew, explaining, “I have never been involved in politics. Politics divides people.”

See over 50 related reads on JR Online on: NATAN SHARANSKY



Yisrael Kristal

5777 T yisrael kristal


Yisrael Kristal (Screenshot from YouTube)

How do you fit 113 candles on a cake? That’s one happy dilemma Kristal could contemplate when Guinness World Records certified him as the world’s oldest man in March.

Kristal, who turned the big 1-1-3 in September, is a Holocaust survivor who made a living making candy starting in 1920. After surviving Auschwitz, where his first wife was killed, Kristal remarried and moved to Israel.

In September, his family announced that Kristal would celebrate his barmitzvah a century late. He couldn’t at age 13 because of the war - World War I, that is.

See related reads on JR Online on: YISRAE KRISTAL



Merrick Garland

5777 T Merrick Garland-


Judge Merrick Garland being introduced by President Barack Obama as a nominee for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House on March 16 (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Another more US-centric story where a Jewish American has had his nomination as a Supreme Court Justice held up for six months by a broken and outdated political system - and it probably will be for another six months too!

Always a Supreme Court justice nominee, never a Supreme Court justice. That’s been the fate of Garland, who was nominated to the country’s highest court after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. Garland is currently the chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and he’s been in limbo for a while. Fearing a liberal majority on the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans have refused to hold a hearing on Garland’s nomination with the presidential election nearing.



Jill Stein

5777 t jill-stein


Jill Stein announcing that she will seek the Green Party’s presidential nomination, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC last June (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

This one is a beaut! Who knew there would be four candidates on next month's US Presidential election ballot? And that one is Jewish, but not a Zionist?

If Americans want to elect a folk-singing physician who seeks to end foreign aid to Israel, Stein is their candidate. Making her second run as the Green Party’s presidential nominee, Stein is promising a “Green New Deal”. a universal basic income and a significant reordering of America’s foreign policy - including support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. Stein has made some headlines this year - among other things, a warrant for her arrest was issued in North Dakota for her actions during a pipeline protest - but she’s languishing in the polls at about three per cent. So don't fret, folks.



Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer

5777 T abbi and ilana


Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer at a “Broad City” screening during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April (Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)

The ladies of “Broad City”, which completed a hilarious third season this year, have never shied away from making Judaism a natural part of their New York City stoner comedy. Earlier episodes featured such gems as sex talk at a shiva and a T-shirt reading “challah back”. 

An online only video features the friends trying to talk themselves through the Yom Kippur fast - while eyeing bacon-and-egg sandwiches. But Abbi and Ilana took the Jewish factor to a new level in this year’s two-part season finale, which saw them take a flight to Israel with “Birthmark”, a parody of Birthright. We won’t spoil the episode, but it features Abbi singing a Christmas carol and Ilana itching to join the “mohel chai club”.



406SHARES
Jewish newsmakers

Clockwise from top left: Elor Azaria, Ivanka Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. (Getty Images)

(JTA) — With Rosh Hashanah approaching, which Jews made the biggest news in the past Jewish year? From the presidential election to Israel to your TV screen, here are 14 Jews who earned headlines during the past 12 months for their accomplishments, blunders, mitzvahs and missteps.

Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waving on election day in Concord, New Hampshire, Feb. 9, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders in Concord waving on the day of the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire, Feb. 9, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

First on our list is the first Jewish candidate to win a major party’s presidential primary. Once considered the longest of shots, the septuagenarian  senator rode a wave of enthusiasm among young voters and took his insurgent campaign all the way to the Democratic National Convention, garnering more than 40 percent of primary votes. The Vermont Independent pushed rival Hillary Clinton to the left on a range of issues. He also broke ground by criticizing Israel in ways seldom heard from a mainstream candidate. Last, but certainly not least, he gave Larry David a role for the ages.

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump speaking onstage during Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C., October 14, 2015 (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc)

Ivanka Trump speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., October 14, 2015. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc)

For Jewish Americans, one of the most fascinating parts of Donald Trump’s unorthodox campaign is his Orthodox Jewish daughter, Ivanka. A self-styled champion of working women and erstwhile friend of Chelsea Clinton, Ivanka has become one of her father’s most prominent surrogates. She’s added a softer touch to an often brash campaign, and has influenced her father on women’s issues, including family leave. Married to developer and key Trump adviser Jared Kushner, she has proved to be one of the campaign’s main weapons in defending her father against charges that he countenances anti-Semitism.

Anat Hoffman

Anat Hoffman at the Western Wall, Feb. 7, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman at the Western Wall, Feb. 7, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

For decades, Hoffman has led the fight for women to host prayers at the Western Wall. And after years of being arrested, pelted with eggs and shouted at, her group, Women of the Wall, grew closer than ever to its goal this year. After three years of negotiations, Israel’s Cabinet approved a plan to expand and upgrade the site’s non-Orthodox prayer section. But the controversy is far from over: Implementation of the deal has been stalled amid political wrangling for months, while some feminists complain the compromise represented a capitulation to the wall’s Orthodox authorities.

Aly Raisman

Aly Raisman competing on the uneven bars on the second day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena, Aug. 7, 2016. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Aly Raisman competing on the uneven bars at the Rio Olympics, Aug. 7, 2016. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Our favorite Jewish gymnast didn’t disappoint at this summer’s Rio games. At 22, Raisman was the U.S. women’s gymnastic team captain and its oldest member (her nickname: Grandma). In addition to helping the Americans win team gold again, Raisman took the silver medal in the all-around and floor exercises, adding to the two golds and one bronze she won in 2012. Raisman has vowed to return in 2020. Hopefully herdelightfully nervous parents can come along, too.

Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan and Esther Pollard after his release from prison, Nov. 20, 2015. (Courtesy of Justice for Jonathan Pollard)

Jonathan and Esther Pollard following his release from prison, Nov. 20, 2015. (Courtesy of Justice for Jonathan Pollard)

Last November, a long-running saga ended between the American Jewish establishment and the United States government. Pollard, a civilian Navy intelligence employee arrested in 1985 for spying for Israel, was paroled after serving 30 years in a federal prison. At first an embarrassment to Jewish leaders, Pollard in recent years began to be seen as a martyr by some Jews who protested his long prison term. He will not be able to move to Israel, as he wished, but he can surf the internet.

Elor Azaria

Elor Azaria

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria at a military court hearing in Jaffa, Aug. 30, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

As Israeli security forces struggled to stem a wave of stabbings this year, Israeli soldiers drew criticism for what some observers — including inside the military — called a disproportionate response. No case proved more controversial than that of Azaria, a 19-year-old soldier who killed a Palestinian assailant lying wounded on the ground. Azaria’s case, which is still in trial, has divided Israel. Critics say he broke the rules of engagement. His defenders say he was doing his job.

Sheldon Silver

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arriving at the courthouse in New York, Nov. 24, 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Images)

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arriving at the courthouse in New York, Nov. 24, 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Images)

The man who was the all-powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly is now serving a 12-year prison sentence. Silver, 72, is an Orthodox Jew who gained a reputation as one of New York’s foremost power brokers during more than two decades in the speaker’s post. A Democrat from Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Silver was arrested in 2015 on seven counts of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering. He was convicted in November of that year and sentenced to his dozen years behind bars in May. Lamenting the length of the sentence, The Jewish Press, a newspaper serving New York’s Orthodox community, said his fate is relevant to New York Jewry due to “his extraordinary legislative achievements which revolutionized the way members of the Jewish community are able to go about their everyday lives without having to sacrifice the practice of … their faith.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Debbie Wasserman Schultz sitting for an interview at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort prior to the first Democratic presidential debate, Oct. 13, 2015. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A rising Jewish star in the Democratic Party suffered a swift fall. Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida congresswoman who once said she voted as “a Jewish mother,” began serving as chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2011. She had powerful allies and a famous fundraising prowess. But right before this year’s Democratic National Convention, leaked emails showed her staffers strategizing against Sanders during the presidential nomination race. Instead of gaveling in the convention, Wasserman Schultz resigned her post — though she did win her Democratic primary this year.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein

After Israel's Chief Rabbinate rejected a conversion performed by prominent modern Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein (right), Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky (left) protested on his behalf. (Ben Sales)

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, left, protested on behalf of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein after a conversion performed by the prominent modern Orthodox spiritual leader was rejected by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. (Ben Sales)

Rarely does a retired octogenarian rabbi make this much news. Lookstein, the former rabbi of the posh Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Orthodox synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, was at the center of two controversies this year. First, a conversion he supervised was declared invalid by Israel’s Chief Rabbinical Court, causing further friction between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. Then Lookstein, who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s Jewish conversion, agreed to deliver the opening invocation at the Republican National Convention. Following an outcry over what critics called an implicit endorsement of Donald Trump, Lookstein withdrew, explaining, “I have never been involved in politics. Politics divides people.”

Yisrael Kristal

Yisrael Kristal

Yisrael Kristal (Screenshot from YouTube)

How do you fit 113 candles on a cake? That’s one happy dilemma Kristal could contemplate when Guinness World Records certified him as the world’s oldest man in March. Kristal, who turned the big 1-1-3 in September, is a Holocaust survivor who made a living making candy starting in 1920. After surviving Auschwitz, where his first wife was killed, Kristal remarried and moved to Israel. In September, his family announced that Kristal would celebrate his bar mitzvah a century late. He couldn’t at age 13 because of the war — World War I, that is.

Merrick Garland

Judge Merrick B. Garland being introduced by President Barack Obama as a nominee for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Judge Merrick Garland being introduced by President Barack Obama as a nominee for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 16, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Always a Supreme Court justice nominee, never a Supreme Court justice. That’s been the fate of Garland, who was nominated to the country’s highest court after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. Garland is currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and he’s been in limbo for a while. Fearing a liberal majority on the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans have refused to hold a hearing on Garland’s nomination with the presidential election nearing.

Jill Stein

Jill Stein announcing that she will seek the Green Party's presidential nomination, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C, June 23, 2015. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Jill Stein announcing that she will seek the Green Party’s presidential nomination, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., June 23, 2015. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

If you want to elect a folk-singing physician who seeks to end foreign aid to Israel, Stein is your candidate. Making her second run as the Green Party’s presidential nominee, Stein is promising a “Green New Deal,” a universal basic income and a significant reordering of America’s foreign policy — including support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. Stein has made some headlines this year — among other things, a warrant for her arrest was issued in North Dakota for her actions during a pipeline protest — but she’s languishing in the polls at about 3 percent.

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer at a 'Broad City' screening during the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, April 17, 2016. (Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer at a “Broad City” screening during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, April 17, 2016. (Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)

The ladies of “Broad City,” which completed a hilarious third season this year, have never shied away from making Judaism a natural part of their New York City stoner comedy. Earlier episodes featured such gems as sex talk at a shiva and a T-shirt reading “challah back.” An online only video features the friends trying to talk themselves through the Yom Kippur fast — while eyeing bacon-and-egg sandwiches. But Abbi and Ilana took the Jewish factor to a new level in this year’s two-part season finale, which saw them take a flight to Israel with “Birthmark,” a parody of Birthright. We won’t spoil the episode, but it features Abbi singing a Christmas carol and Ilana itching to join the “mohel chai club.”

406SHARES
Jewish newsmakers

Clockwise from top left: Elor Azaria, Ivanka Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. (Getty Images)

(JTA) — With Rosh Hashanah approaching, which Jews made the biggest news in the past Jewish year? From the presidential election to Israel to your TV screen, here are 14 Jews who earned headlines during the past 12 months for their accomplishments, blunders, mitzvahs and missteps.

Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waving on election day in Concord, New Hampshire, Feb. 9, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders in Concord waving on the day of the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire, Feb. 9, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

First on our list is the first Jewish candidate to win a major party’s presidential primary. Once considered the longest of shots, the septuagenarian  senator rode a wave of enthusiasm among young voters and took his insurgent campaign all the way to the Democratic National Convention, garnering more than 40 percent of primary votes. The Vermont Independent pushed rival Hillary Clinton to the left on a range of issues. He also broke ground by criticizing Israel in ways seldom heard from a mainstream candidate. Last, but certainly not least, he gave Larry David a role for the ages.

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump speaking onstage during Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C., October 14, 2015 (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc)

Ivanka Trump speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., October 14, 2015. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc)

For Jewish Americans, one of the most fascinating parts of Donald Trump’s unorthodox campaign is his Orthodox Jewish daughter, Ivanka. A self-styled champion of working women and erstwhile friend of Chelsea Clinton, Ivanka has become one of her father’s most prominent surrogates. She’s added a softer touch to an often brash campaign, and has influenced her father on women’s issues, including family leave. Married to developer and key Trump adviser Jared Kushner, she has proved to be one of the campaign’s main weapons in defending her father against charges that he countenances anti-Semitism.

Anat Hoffman

Anat Hoffman at the Western Wall, Feb. 7, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman at the Western Wall, Feb. 7, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

For decades, Hoffman has led the fight for women to host prayers at the Western Wall. And after years of being arrested, pelted with eggs and shouted at, her group, Women of the Wall, grew closer than ever to its goal this year. After three years of negotiations, Israel’s Cabinet approved a plan to expand and upgrade the site’s non-Orthodox prayer section. But the controversy is far from over: Implementation of the deal has been stalled amid political wrangling for months, while some feminists complain the compromise represented a capitulation to the wall’s Orthodox authorities.

Aly Raisman

Aly Raisman competing on the uneven bars on the second day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena, Aug. 7, 2016. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Aly Raisman competing on the uneven bars at the Rio Olympics, Aug. 7, 2016. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Our favorite Jewish gymnast didn’t disappoint at this summer’s Rio games. At 22, Raisman was the U.S. women’s gymnastic team captain and its oldest member (her nickname: Grandma). In addition to helping the Americans win team gold again, Raisman took the silver medal in the all-around and floor exercises, adding to the two golds and one bronze she won in 2012. Raisman has vowed to return in 2020. Hopefully herdelightfully nervous parents can come along, too.

Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan and Esther Pollard after his release from prison, Nov. 20, 2015. (Courtesy of Justice for Jonathan Pollard)

Jonathan and Esther Pollard following his release from prison, Nov. 20, 2015. (Courtesy of Justice for Jonathan Pollard)

Last November, a long-running saga ended between the American Jewish establishment and the United States government. Pollard, a civilian Navy intelligence employee arrested in 1985 for spying for Israel, was paroled after serving 30 years in a federal prison. At first an embarrassment to Jewish leaders, Pollard in recent years began to be seen as a martyr by some Jews who protested his long prison term. He will not be able to move to Israel, as he wished, but he can surf the internet.

Elor Azaria

Elor Azaria

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria at a military court hearing in Jaffa, Aug. 30, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

As Israeli security forces struggled to stem a wave of stabbings this year, Israeli soldiers drew criticism for what some observers — including inside the military — called a disproportionate response. No case proved more controversial than that of Azaria, a 19-year-old soldier who killed a Palestinian assailant lying wounded on the ground. Azaria’s case, which is still in trial, has divided Israel. Critics say he broke the rules of engagement. His defenders say he was doing his job.

Sheldon Silver

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arriving at the courthouse in New York, Nov. 24, 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Images)

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arriving at the courthouse in New York, Nov. 24, 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Images)

The man who was the all-powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly is now serving a 12-year prison sentence. Silver, 72, is an Orthodox Jew who gained a reputation as one of New York’s foremost power brokers during more than two decades in the speaker’s post. A Democrat from Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Silver was arrested in 2015 on seven counts of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering. He was convicted in November of that year and sentenced to his dozen years behind bars in May. Lamenting the length of the sentence, The Jewish Press, a newspaper serving New York’s Orthodox community, said his fate is relevant to New York Jewry due to “his extraordinary legislative achievements which revolutionized the way members of the Jewish community are able to go about their everyday lives without having to sacrifice the practice of … their faith.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Debbie Wasserman Schultz sitting for an interview at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort prior to the first Democratic presidential debate, Oct. 13, 2015. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A rising Jewish star in the Democratic Party suffered a swift fall. Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida congresswoman who once said she voted as “a Jewish mother,” began serving as chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2011. She had powerful allies and a famous fundraising prowess. But right before this year’s Democratic National Convention, leaked emails showed her staffers strategizing against Sanders during the presidential nomination race. Instead of gaveling in the convention, Wasserman Schultz resigned her post — though she did win her Democratic primary this year.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein

After Israel's Chief Rabbinate rejected a conversion performed by prominent modern Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein (right), Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky (left) protested on his behalf. (Ben Sales)

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, left, protested on behalf of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein after a conversion performed by the prominent modern Orthodox spiritual leader was rejected by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. (Ben Sales)

Rarely does a retired octogenarian rabbi make this much news. Lookstein, the former rabbi of the posh Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Orthodox synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, was at the center of two controversies this year. First, a conversion he supervised was declared invalid by Israel’s Chief Rabbinical Court, causing further friction between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. Then Lookstein, who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s Jewish conversion, agreed to deliver the opening invocation at the Republican National Convention. Following an outcry over what critics called an implicit endorsement of Donald Trump, Lookstein withdrew, explaining, “I have never been involved in politics. Politics divides people.”

Yisrael Kristal

Yisrael Kristal

Yisrael Kristal (Screenshot from YouTube)

How do you fit 113 candles on a cake? That’s one happy dilemma Kristal could contemplate when Guinness World Records certified him as the world’s oldest man in March. Kristal, who turned the big 1-1-3 in September, is a Holocaust survivor who made a living making candy starting in 1920. After surviving Auschwitz, where his first wife was killed, Kristal remarried and moved to Israel. In September, his family announced that Kristal would celebrate his bar mitzvah a century late. He couldn’t at age 13 because of the war — World War I, that is.

Merrick Garland

Judge Merrick B. Garland being introduced by President Barack Obama as a nominee for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Judge Merrick Garland being introduced by President Barack Obama as a nominee for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 16, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Always a Supreme Court justice nominee, never a Supreme Court justice. That’s been the fate of Garland, who was nominated to the country’s highest court after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. Garland is currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and he’s been in limbo for a while. Fearing a liberal majority on the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans have refused to hold a hearing on Garland’s nomination with the presidential election nearing.

Jill Stein

Jill Stein announcing that she will seek the Green Party's presidential nomination, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C, June 23, 2015. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Jill Stein announcing that she will seek the Green Party’s presidential nomination, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., June 23, 2015. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

If you want to elect a folk-singing physician who seeks to end foreign aid to Israel, Stein is your candidate. Making her second run as the Green Party’s presidential nominee, Stein is promising a “Green New Deal,” a universal basic income and a significant reordering of America’s foreign policy — including support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. Stein has made some headlines this year — among other things, a warrant for her arrest was issued in North Dakota for her actions during a pipeline protest — but she’s languishing in the polls at about 3 percent.

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer at a 'Broad City' screening during the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, April 17, 2016. (Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer at a “Broad City” screening during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, April 17, 2016. (Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)

The ladies of “Broad City,” which completed a hilarious third season this year, have never shied away from making Judaism a natural part of their New York City stoner comedy. Earlier episodes featured such gems as sex talk at a shiva and a T-shirt reading “challah back.” An online only video features the friends trying to talk themselves through the Yom Kippur fast — while eyeing bacon-and-egg sandwiches. But Abbi and Ilana took the Jewish factor to a new level in this year’s two-part season finale, which saw them take a flight to Israel with “Birthmark,” a parody of Birthright. We won’t spoil the episode, but it features Abbi singing a Christmas carol and Ilana itching to join the “mohel chai club.”

406SHARES
Jewish newsmakers

Clockwise from top left: Elor Azaria, Ivanka Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. (Getty Images)

(JTA) — With Rosh Hashanah approaching, which Jews made the biggest news in the past Jewish year? From the presidential election to Israel to your TV screen, here are 14 Jews who earned headlines during the past 12 months for their accomplishments, blunders, mitzvahs and missteps.

Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waving on election day in Concord, New Hampshire, Feb. 9, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders in Concord waving on the day of the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire, Feb. 9, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

First on our list is the first Jewish candidate to win a major party’s presidential primary. Once considered the longest of shots, the septuagenarian  senator rode a wave of enthusiasm among young voters and took his insurgent campaign all the way to the Democratic National Convention, garnering more than 40 percent of primary votes. The Vermont Independent pushed rival Hillary Clinton to the left on a range of issues. He also broke ground by criticizing Israel in ways seldom heard from a mainstream candidate. Last, but certainly not least, he gave Larry David a role for the ages.

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump speaking onstage during Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C., October 14, 2015 (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc)

Ivanka Trump speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., October 14, 2015. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc)

For Jewish Americans, one of the most fascinating parts of Donald Trump’s unorthodox campaign is his Orthodox Jewish daughter, Ivanka. A self-styled champion of working women and erstwhile friend of Chelsea Clinton, Ivanka has become one of her father’s most prominent surrogates. She’s added a softer touch to an often brash campaign, and has influenced her father on women’s issues, including family leave. Married to developer and key Trump adviser Jared Kushner, she has proved to be one of the campaign’s main weapons in defending her father against charges that he countenances anti-Semitism.

Anat Hoffman

Anat Hoffman at the Western Wall, Feb. 7, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman at the Western Wall, Feb. 7, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

For decades, Hoffman has led the fight for women to host prayers at the Western Wall. And after years of being arrested, pelted with eggs and shouted at, her group, Women of the Wall, grew closer than ever to its goal this year. After three years of negotiations, Israel’s Cabinet approved a plan to expand and upgrade the site’s non-Orthodox prayer section. But the controversy is far from over: Implementation of the deal has been stalled amid political wrangling for months, while some feminists complain the compromise represented a capitulation to the wall’s Orthodox authorities.

Aly Raisman

Aly Raisman competing on the uneven bars on the second day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena, Aug. 7, 2016. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Aly Raisman competing on the uneven bars at the Rio Olympics, Aug. 7, 2016. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Our favorite Jewish gymnast didn’t disappoint at this summer’s Rio games. At 22, Raisman was the U.S. women’s gymnastic team captain and its oldest member (her nickname: Grandma). In addition to helping the Americans win team gold again, Raisman took the silver medal in the all-around and floor exercises, adding to the two golds and one bronze she won in 2012. Raisman has vowed to return in 2020. Hopefully herdelightfully nervous parents can come along, too.

Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan and Esther Pollard after his release from prison, Nov. 20, 2015. (Courtesy of Justice for Jonathan Pollard)

Jonathan and Esther Pollard following his release from prison, Nov. 20, 2015. (Courtesy of Justice for Jonathan Pollard)

Last November, a long-running saga ended between the American Jewish establishment and the United States government. Pollard, a civilian Navy intelligence employee arrested in 1985 for spying for Israel, was paroled after serving 30 years in a federal prison. At first an embarrassment to Jewish leaders, Pollard in recent years began to be seen as a martyr by some Jews who protested his long prison term. He will not be able to move to Israel, as he wished, but he can surf the internet.

Elor Azaria

Elor Azaria

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria at a military court hearing in Jaffa, Aug. 30, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

As Israeli security forces struggled to stem a wave of stabbings this year, Israeli soldiers drew criticism for what some observers — including inside the military — called a disproportionate response. No case proved more controversial than that of Azaria, a 19-year-old soldier who killed a Palestinian assailant lying wounded on the ground. Azaria’s case, which is still in trial, has divided Israel. Critics say he broke the rules of engagement. His defenders say he was doing his job.

Sheldon Silver

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arriving at the courthouse in New York, Nov. 24, 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Images)

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arriving at the courthouse in New York, Nov. 24, 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Images)

The man who was the all-powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly is now serving a 12-year prison sentence. Silver, 72, is an Orthodox Jew who gained a reputation as one of New York’s foremost power brokers during more than two decades in the speaker’s post. A Democrat from Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Silver was arrested in 2015 on seven counts of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering. He was convicted in November of that year and sentenced to his dozen years behind bars in May. Lamenting the length of the sentence, The Jewish Press, a newspaper serving New York’s Orthodox community, said his fate is relevant to New York Jewry due to “his extraordinary legislative achievements which revolutionized the way members of the Jewish community are able to go about their everyday lives without having to sacrifice the practice of … their faith.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Debbie Wasserman Schultz sitting for an interview at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort prior to the first Democratic presidential debate, Oct. 13, 2015. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A rising Jewish star in the Democratic Party suffered a swift fall. Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida congresswoman who once said she voted as “a Jewish mother,” began serving as chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2011. She had powerful allies and a famous fundraising prowess. But right before this year’s Democratic National Convention, leaked emails showed her staffers strategizing against Sanders during the presidential nomination race. Instead of gaveling in the convention, Wasserman Schultz resigned her post — though she did win her Democratic primary this year.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein

After Israel's Chief Rabbinate rejected a conversion performed by prominent modern Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein (right), Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky (left) protested on his behalf. (Ben Sales)

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, left, protested on behalf of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein after a conversion performed by the prominent modern Orthodox spiritual leader was rejected by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. (Ben Sales)

Rarely does a retired octogenarian rabbi make this much news. Lookstein, the former rabbi of the posh Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Orthodox synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, was at the center of two controversies this year. First, a conversion he supervised was declared invalid by Israel’s Chief Rabbinical Court, causing further friction between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. Then Lookstein, who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s Jewish conversion, agreed to deliver the opening invocation at the Republican National Convention. Following an outcry over what critics called an implicit endorsement of Donald Trump, Lookstein withdrew, explaining, “I have never been involved in politics. Politics divides people.”

Yisrael Kristal

Yisrael Kristal

Yisrael Kristal (Screenshot from YouTube)

How do you fit 113 candles on a cake? That’s one happy dilemma Kristal could contemplate when Guinness World Records certified him as the world’s oldest man in March. Kristal, who turned the big 1-1-3 in September, is a Holocaust survivor who made a living making candy starting in 1920. After surviving Auschwitz, where his first wife was killed, Kristal remarried and moved to Israel. In September, his family announced that Kristal would celebrate his bar mitzvah a century late. He couldn’t at age 13 because of the war — World War I, that is.

Merrick Garland

Judge Merrick B. Garland being introduced by President Barack Obama as a nominee for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Judge Merrick Garland being introduced by President Barack Obama as a nominee for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 16, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Always a Supreme Court justice nominee, never a Supreme Court justice. That’s been the fate of Garland, who was nominated to the country’s highest court after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. Garland is currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and he’s been in limbo for a while. Fearing a liberal majority on the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans have refused to hold a hearing on Garland’s nomination with the presidential election nearing.

Jill Stein

Jill Stein announcing that she will seek the Green Party's presidential nomination, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C, June 23, 2015. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Jill Stein announcing that she will seek the Green Party’s presidential nomination, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., June 23, 2015. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

If you want to elect a folk-singing physician who seeks to end foreign aid to Israel, Stein is your candidate. Making her second run as the Green Party’s presidential nominee, Stein is promising a “Green New Deal,” a universal basic income and a significant reordering of America’s foreign policy — including support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. Stein has made some headlines this year — among other things, a warrant for her arrest was issued in North Dakota for her actions during a pipeline protest — but she’s languishing in the polls at about 3 percent.

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer at a 'Broad City' screening during the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, April 17, 2016. (Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer at a “Broad City” screening during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, April 17, 2016. (Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)

The ladies of “Broad City,” which completed a hilarious third season this year, have never shied away from making Judaism a natural part of their New York City stoner comedy. Earlier episodes featured such gems as sex talk at a shiva and a T-shirt reading “challah back.” An online only video features the friends trying to talk themselves through the Yom Kippur fast — while eyeing bacon-and-egg sandwiches. But Abbi and Ilana took the Jewish factor to a new level in this year’s two-part season finale, which saw them take a flight to Israel with “Birthmark,” a parody of Birthright. We won’t spoil the episode, but it features Abbi singing a Christmas carol and Ilana itching to join the “mohel chai club.”

Comment

  1. RadEditor - HTML WYSIWYG Editor. MS Word-like content editing experience thanks to a rich set of formatting tools, dropdowns, dialogs, system modules and built-in spell-check.
    RadEditor's components - toolbar, content area, modes and modules
       
    Toolbar's wrapper 
     
    Content area wrapper
    RadEditor's bottom area: Design, Html and Preview modes, Statistics module and resize handle.
    It contains RadEditor's Modes/views (HTML, Design and Preview), Statistics and Resizer
    Editor Mode buttonsStatistics moduleEditor resizer
      
    RadEditor's Modules - special tools used to provide extra information such as Tag Inspector, Real Time HTML Viewer, Tag Properties and other.
       
 

Follow us on

Newsletter