Jewish Week’s “36 under 36” section, now in its sixth year, was born after Jewish Week staffers reflected that there ought to be a way to honor the best and the brightest young stars in the firmament of New York’s Jewish community.
Sometimes it seemed as though at every Jewish organizational dinner another older Jewish person was accepting an award—all fine and good — but what about the up and coming, the new generation? Chai means life, and life moves quickly; in numerology 36 is double chai, an apt symbol for the energetic, the capable, the newest among us who really are stunning the world. Let’s recognize them, it was decided.
Artists, doctors, businesspeople, journalists, policymakers, activists, educators, and clergy, the younger contingent of Jews in New York were battling injustice, speaking truth to power, creating works of devastating beauty, and finding new ways to carry the candelabra of Jewish life into the future.
In 2009, Brooke Goldstein was recognized as one of the 36. Her investigative documentary film, “The Making of a Martyr,” exposed the horrible truth about Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank who admitted on camera to recruiting children as young as 10. Brooke now heads the Lawfare Project, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the rights of journalists and others against legal efforts to undermine the values of Western and liberal democracies. Her high level of achievement continues.
As does that of other 36ers.
In 2008, finance executive Zoya Raynes Friedman was one of the 36 for founding the Council of Young Jewish Presidents, mobilizing the next generation of Jewish leaders to address issues affecting the Jewish and pro-Israel community such as the plight of kidnapped Israel soldiers. Today a young mother, Raynes Friedman continues to lead as chair of this organization as well as serving among the first cohort of the Wexner Heritage Program for Russian speaking Jews.
So who are this year’s 36ers? To find out, you’ll have to wait till June 7, when our “36 under 36” issue is released. But for those of you who like guessing games, we can share a few clues:
Who is the brainy beauty whose love for a certain winter sport, piano, and poetry are eclipsed only by her desire to save lives (and whose guilty pleasure is watching reality TV)?
Who is the young educator who brought a frightened congregation through the ravages of Hurricane Sandy by turning the Temple into a command center and mobilizing its teens to locate every elderly congregant?
Who is the dashing legal eagle whose razor-sharp argument against discrimination based on national origin left the Brooklyn Food Co-op quaking in its boots for attempting to boycott purveyors of Israeli products?
Who is the stunning, tattooed, hard core Zionist with a heart for the hearts of Arab and African children?
Find out the answers to these questions and more on June 7, when Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” are revealed. See you then!