Jews make Time’s 2023 Most Influential list
The magazine’s annual list includes politicians, business titans, artists and innovators from around the world, from President Joe Biden to a YouTube sensation with 145 million subscribers.
The journalist who was 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 includes politicians, business titans, artists and innovators from around the world, from President Joe Biden to a YouTube sensation with 145 million subscribers. Each entry is accompanied by a short essay by another prominent figure.
Here are the Jews who made the cut.
Sam Altman is the tech entrepreneur who is CEO 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, with a sense that things can always go deeply wrong, and that there’s no single place in the world where you’re deeply at home.”
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 is 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 in 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 State Department has called part of Russia’s “ongoing war against the truth.” The American child of Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union, Gershkovich was the subject of an awareness campaign urged during this month’s Passover celebrations.
Bob Iger returned to being the CEO of Disney last year. “His return as CEO in 2022 ushered in a new era of transformation and creative excellence” for the entertainment company, General Motors CEO and Disney board member Mary Barra wrote in Time. He received the 2019 Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, warning that “Hitler would have loved social media.”
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 other people on the list have Jewish backgrounds. The actor and businesswoman Drew Barrymore, recognised by the 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 has not announced a conversion.
Lea Michele, who last year took over the lead role in Funny Girl on Broadway, has a Jewish father but does not identify as Jewish.
And the skier Mikaela Shifrin has a Jewish grandfather but, according to the US Ski and Snowboard Association, is “not connected to the Jewish community.”