By Rochelle Maruch Miller
What do Forbes-ranked hedge-fund manager and philanthropist Henry Swieca, BCBGeneration creative director Joyce Azria, and Columbia Law School dean emeritus David Schizer have in common? They are among a group of ten individuals who have been named 2014 Orthodox Jewish All-Stars by Jew in the City, the organization dedicated to rebranding Orthodox Jews and Judaism through digital media.
This diverse and accomplished group also includes Saul Blinkoff, Disney animator and film director; Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin, Israel Prize winner in medicine, who developed a drug to slow dementia caused by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; Yael Federbush, four-time Emmy-winning producer at The Today Show; Professor Barry Simon, 2012 Henri Poincare Prize winner for Outstanding Achievements in Mathematical Physics; Josh Meier, 4th-place winner of the 2014 Intel prize and named “One of the Eight Kids Who Are the Future of Medicine” by CNN; Estee Ackerman, table-tennis phenom, ranked sixth in the country in her division and a 2016 Olympian-hopeful; and Mindy Pollak, a Montreal councilwoman who made history last fall as the first chassidic woman to be elected to public office there.
A short film showing several of the All-Stars and how they have balanced career and observance is slated to premiere at the event.
Allison Josephs, Jew in the City founder and director, said, “In 2012, when we created this award, we focused on shattering people’s misconceptions about Orthodox Jews and what they could accomplish professionally. Last year, when Chanukah historically intersected with Thanksgiving, we celebrated the religious freedoms that exist in the world today, which allow people of all faiths to excel in a variety of career paths. This year, our message is our most crucial one yet; with anti-Semitic attacks on the rise across the globe, we are celebrating ten individuals who proudly observe Jewish traditions as they’ve soared to the tops of their fields,” Allison explains. “Increased anti-Semitism is a threat to all Jews and should concern all good people, but the reality is that those that look the most Jewish (i.e. the Orthodox Jewish community), are the most visible targets. These Orthodox Jewish All-Stars serve as a poignant reminder that you can be a proud religious Jew and still be highly successful. No one should feel the need to hide his Judaism or his observance. We must never cower in the face of anti-Semitism.”
Past Orthodox Jewish All-Stars have included former senator Joe Lieberman, Top-Ten Billboard recording artist Alex Clare, and New York Times bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman, who all appeared in the All-Stars inaugural video in 2012. Last year’s list included Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Nobel Laureate Robert Aumann, and advertising agency 360i CEO Sarah Hofstetter.
Many of this year’s All-Stars, as well as those of previous years, are expected to attend the red-carpet event awards party in lower Manhattan on Tuesday evening, December 2, 2014. Attendees will enjoy music, wine, and a Chanukah-themed dairy dinner, including latke and doughnut bars.
The event will be emceed by chassidic comic Mendy Pellin, a 2012 Orthodox Jewish All-Star, whom the New York Times called “Stephen Colbert with a beard and a black hat.”