The Most Interesting Jews of 5782 That Most of the Jewish World Has Never Heard Of

September 13, 2021 | David M. Weinberg
About the author: David M. Weinberg is a writer and lobbyist on defense, diplomatic, and Jewish affairs, and a former senior advisor to the Tikvah Fund in Israel. He also is a widely published kosher wine enthusiast.

With the Jewish year coming to a close last week, many Jewish publications produced lists of the world’s most influential, or most important, Jews. Others do the same at the end of the Gregorian year. Too many of these lists, writes David M. Weinberg, focus on Jewish celebrities, athletes, entrepreneurs, and TikTok influencers, or those like America’s second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, whose sole claim to fame is his marriage to the current vice-president. Weinberg offers an alternative list of what he calls the “most interesting Jews” of 5782, among them:

Aliza Bloch: The new mayor of [the rapidly growing Jerusalem suburb of] Bet Shemesh is an experienced educator who took on a poor, badly managed, and divided city, which she is somehow turning around. Even the hard-bitten and warring ḥaredi factions in the city have learned to appreciate her leadership. They too will benefit if Bloch can bring more high-tech businesses to the city.

Sivan Rahav Meir: A rising star in both quality television journalism and Torah education. Her portraits of Israeli leaders and intellectuals always are smart and sensitive, and her learned Bible lectures are followed online by tens of thousands of people.

Yoav Sorek: The erudite editor of the important Hebrew-language journal Hashiloach, which in just five years has become the largest (and most provocative) paid-circulation intellectual platform in Israel. Sorek’s personal writing is sensitive and penetrating, and has become even more so since the terrorist murder of his son, Dvir, just over one year ago.

Rabbi Asher Weiss: Probably the only ultra-Orthodox scholar and halakhic decision-maker who is truly respected in the Lithuanian [i.e., non-ḥasidic ḥaredi], ḥasidic, and religious Zionist worlds simultaneously, in Israel and around the Jewish world. He also is unique in understanding the need for meaningful structural transformations in the ḥaredi world.

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