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Mazel tov to the women of the Forward 50

Another year, another Forward 50 list of Jewish leaders who have made the biggest impact (good or bad) in American Jewish life. Every year, I wait to see the gender breakdown of the list, and every year, I am disappointed. This year, Forward editor Jane Eisner pre-empted the obvious forthcoming criticism. She wrote:

A continuing concern is the paucity of women on this list. This year, the Forward 50 is again dominated by men, with women comprising slightly less than one-third of the names. This reflects the absence of women in significant leadership roles in American Jewry, but it also could be because we weren’t looking in the right places. Reader engagement in this process is essential, and I encourage you to let me know if there are worthy women, and men, we have overlooked.

That just about sums it up, although I still have trouble accepting the notion that it's difficult to "find" Jewish women leaders making an impact. (Pro-tip: Don't know where to look? Try I'm also wondering why spot #50 was given to Barak Obama (not Jewish) instead of a deserving Jewish woman.

But all ambivalence about the list aside, we at JWA heartily congratulate the fabulous 16 women who made the list, many of whom are featured on often and with pride!

Gabrielle Giffords

Jennifer Lazlo Mizrahi

Jill Jacobs

Ruth Messinger 

Caryl Stern

Leslie Jacobs

Joy Levitt

Judy Brown

Natalie Portman

Joan Rosenbaum

Alisa Weilerstein

Jill Abramson

Jennifer Rubin

Sheryl Sandberg

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

Sharon Kleinbaum

Gabrielle Giffords and Jennifer Lazlo Mizrahi are featured in the list's Top Five video (below).

2011 Forward 50 from Jewish Daily Forward on Vimeo.

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How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "Mazel tov to the women of the Forward 50." 4 November 2011. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 16, 2018) <>.


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