South Africans among Algemeiner’s top 100
Our chief rabbi, the Zulu king, and African Christian Democratic Party leader Reverend Meshoe are listed among glamorous film stars, fiery politicians, Jews, gentiles, and acclaimed individuals from all walks of life.
According to The Algemeiner, “without the J100 – either individuals or the organisations they represent – Jewish life would not be of the calibre 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 others’ lives.”
This type of list, the editors of The Algemeiner recognise, has inherent challenges.
“This list should not be seen as an endorsement of anyone or any entity and way of thinking. Rather, the people on this list are a reflection of the rich and broad spectrum of Jewish life, those who have positively contributed and helped shape the Jewish future.”
In the “government” category, the King of the Zulu nation, Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, is described as a fervent advocate of co-operation with Israel. Zwelithini’s effort to combine the revival of traditional Zulu culture with modern programmes in health and education is acknowledged, as is his commendation of South African Jews for building two state-of-the-art AIDS clinics in his kingdom. Zwelithini is also stated as expressing the belief earlier this year that Israel’s revolutionary water technology could “make our dams our source of life”.
Meshoe has been hailed by South Africa’s Jewish community for his energetic campaign to counter the slander that Israel is an “apartheid state”. Meshoe is commended for having led an “ebullient, 5 000-strong demonstration in Pretoria expressing solidarity with Israel”. His support for Israel is mentioned, as is his comment to the ANC that its bid to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel could cost the party the votes of millions of pro-Israel Christians.
Goldstein, who is said to be “revered across the Jewish world for his commitment to Jewish community life and education” is recognised for his courageous leadership of South African Jewry at a time of growing anti-Semitism and anti-Zionist extremism. Also, his internationally acclaimed “Shabbos Project” is mentioned, and described as “an initiative that encourages South African Jews across different denominations to celebrate Shabbat together”.
These South African personalities appear among cultural figures such as English actor Sir Ben Kingsley and Israeli singer Netta Barzilai, as well as religious personalities like former United Kingdom Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and current UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mervis. They hold their own among political movers and shakers such as American President Donald Trump, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The list even includes figures such as Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge; French punk-chic blogger Noemie Elicha; and Jack Ma, the Chief Executive of Alibaba Group.