Rachel Goldberg-Polin, Alex Edelman among Jews on Time’s 2024 ‘Most Influential’ list


((JR)) — The mother of 23-year-old Israeli-American Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who was taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7, is one of nearly a dozen Jews on Time Magazine’s 100 “Most Influential” list, couched among comedians, writers, music producers, athletes, business executives, and politicians.

Since Oct. 7, Rachel Goldberg-Polin has become one of the most prominent and indefatigable voices advocating for the release of Israeli hostages held captive in Gaza. She has attended an audience with Pope Francis, Zoomed with President Joe Biden and spoken at the United Nations, in addition to cultivating a devoted following on social media.

“I want to thank TIME for my inclusion on the TIME100 and for recognizing the significance and gravity of the hostage crisis and the need for the world to advocate on their behalf, until each one is returned home,” Goldberg-Polin said in a statement.

“I pray this platform will help compel the world not to forsake these remaining 133 souls, who hail from 25 countries, 5 religions and range in age from 15 months to 86 years old, and who have now been held captive in Gaza for 194 days,” she added. “We must not turn a blind eye to the suffering of these human beings, along with the suffering of all innocents in Gaza.”

Other Jewish figures on this year’s list include comedian Alex Edelman; author James McBride; Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle; and musician and producer Jack Antonoff. Here’s what you need to know about this year’s Jewish notables (and catch up on last year’s list here).

  • Jack Antonoff is a music producer known for his work with artists such as Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, The Chicks. He’s also a musician himself, as the lead singer of The Bleachers and the former guitarist and drummer in the band Fun.
  • Yoshua Bengio is a Turing Prize-winning Canadian computer scientist specializing in the social and ethical impact of artificial intelligence. He was born in France to a Moroccan Jewish family, including a father who performed in Judeo-Arabic.
  • Tory Burch is a New York-based fashion designer whose designs popularized the travel ballet flat in the 2010s and whose brand has seen a renaissance of cool in the past year. The Tory Burch Foundation has also provided more than $100 million in loans to women entrepreneurs and promotes gender equality.
  • Alex Edelman, who grew up Orthodox in the suburbs of Boston, has had a banner year, with his standup special “Just for Us,” about his infiltration into a white supremacist meeting in New York, premiering on HBO earlier this month after seven years of touring, including on Broadway. Edelman has said he is considering making his next special about Israel, but the past six months have affected his thinking.
  • Larry Ellison is the co-founder of software company Oracle, currently serving as its chief technology officer. He famously refused to have a bar mitzvah because Hebrew school conflicted with baseball practice.
  • Ynon Kreiz is the Israeli-born CEO of Mattel. His recognition that the company possessed intellectual property geared to children “second only to Disney,” as he told the New Yorker, paved the way for the mega box office hit “Barbie” in 2023.
  • James McBride, the son of a Jewish mother and African-American father, won two National Jewish Book Awards for 2023 for “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store,” a book about Black and Jewish residents in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. His 2013 novel “The Good Lord Bird” about abolitionist soldiers at Harpers Ferry in 1859 was adapted for a miniseries in 2020, and starred Ethan Hawke, who wrote McBride’s entry for the Time 100.
  • Maya Rudolph is a comedian and actress and “Saturday Night Live” alum. She learned via a 2016 episode of PBS’ “Finding Your Roots” that her great-grandfather moved to Pittsburgh from Vilna in 1902 and was a founding member of a synagogue in his new city.
  • Norah Weinstein is the co-CEO of Baby2Baby, a nonprofit organization that provides items like diapers to parents in financial need. Her own children attended a Jewish preschool in Los Angeles and she has said she is inspired by the Jewish concept of tikkun olam.

Not Jewish but … Javier Milei is the recently elected president of Argentina. He is Catholic but recently said at an event in Miami that his grandfather was told he was Jewish. Milei is close with Rabbi Shimon Axel Wahnish, whom he has nominated to be Argentina’s ambassador to Israel, and has said he hopes to convert to Judaism one day.