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The 10 Jews on Time’s ‘most influential’ list



JTA – The journalist arrested in Russia last month and the Biden administration’s antisemitism envoy are among the 10 Jewish members of Time Magazine’s “100 most influential people of 2023”.

The magazine’s annual list, released on 13 April, includes politician, business titans, artists, and innovators from around the world, from President Joe Biden to a YouTube sensation with 145 million subscribers. Here are the Jews who made the cut.

Sam Altman is the tech entrepreneur who is chief executive and co-founder of the OpenAI artificial intelligence laboratory. In 2016, the entrepreneur Peter Thiel told the New Yorker that Altman is “culturally very Jewish – an optimist yet a survivalist”.

Judy Blume is the children’s author whose books deal frankly with puberty and other challenges of growing up. A film adaptation of her 1970 novel, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, one of the first mainstream treatments of interfaith families, is opening in theatres this month.

Doja Cat is a rapper and performance artist who burst onto the scene in 2020 when she won MTV’s Best New Artist award. The daughter of an Ashkenazi Jewish mother and a Black South African father, she’s renowned for blending genres.

Nathan Fielder is a comedian and performance artist whose genre-defying 2022 series, The Rehearsal tackled antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and interfaith parenting. It also featured a Portland, Oregon, Hebrew tutor.

Neil Gaiman is a science-fiction writer whose comic book series, The Sandman, was recently made into a Netflix series. Raised by a Jewish family that dabbled with Scientology, he was also an early critic of the Tennessee school district that banned the Holocaust memoir, Maus, last year.

Evan Gershkovich is a Wall Street Journal reporter who was detained in Russian in March on spying charges that the United States Department of State has called part of Russia’s “ongoing war against the truth”.

Bob Iger is chief executive of Disney after returning to the company last year. “His return as chief executive in 2022 ushered in a new era of transformation and creative excellence” for the entertainment company, General Motors chief executive and Disney board member, Mary Barra, wrote in Time.

Deborah Lipstadt was confirmed by the US Senate in March 2022 as the state department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. A well-known academic specialising in the history of antisemitism and Holocaust denial, she welcomed Time’s recognition by tweeting, “Receiving this award advances my ongoing fight to stamp out antisemitism and all forms of hate.”

Natasha Lyonne is the writer, director, and actress whose popular series on Netflix, Russian Doll, used sci-fi conventions to explore identity, trauma, and the intergenerational effects of the Holocaust. In his Time essay, actor and director Taika Waititi, who is also Jewish, called Lyonne “the coolest person in the room”.

Janet Yellen is the first woman to hold the role of US treasury secretary. Born to Polish Jewish immigrant parents, she has featured in antisemitic conspiracy theories about “globalist” control of financial institutions.

A handful of others on the list have Jewish backgrounds. The actor and businesswoman, Drew Barrymore, recognised by comedian Jimmy Fallon for being “a true role model”, is married to a Jewish man, raising a Jewish child, and said she has “embraced Judaism”, though she hasn’t announced a conversion. Lea Michele, who last year took over the lead role in Funny Girl on Broadway, has a Jewish father but doesn’t identify as Jewish. And skier Mikaela Shifrin has a Jewish grandfather but, according to the US Ski and Snowboard Association, isn’t “connected to the Jewish community”.

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