Each year, the Forward names the Forward 50, recognizing the most influential American Jews today. They are activists and rabbis, novelists and community builders, politicians and athletes, and even a few transgressors.
This panel discussion of recent Forward 50 honorees includes Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service, an international development organization; Dmitriy Salita, a world championship contender in boxing's junior welterweight division; and Bill Kristol, a political analyst and commentator and editor of The Weekly Standard. The panel is moderated by Jane Eisner, editor of the Forward.
Jane Eisner, a pioneer in journalism, became editor of the Forward in June 2008, becoming the first woman to hold the position at the influential Jewish national weekly newspaper.
Eisner held numerous executive editorial and news positions at the Philadelphia Inquirer for 25 years, including stints as editorial page editor, syndicated columnist, City Hall bureau chief and foreign correspondent. In 2006, she joined the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, where she served as vice president for national programs and initiatives, with responsibility for all adult programming, the Liberty Medal, and the Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution.
Since 2002, Eisner has been a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Robert A. Fox Leadership Program, as well as an adjunct professor in the school's political science department. In 2006, she was one of three women chosen to be the first fellows of the new Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center at Bryn Mawr College, where she led conferences and workshops and was the college's 2007 commencement speaker. In 2009, Eisner was selected to be one of 20 fellows in the Punch Sulzberger Executive News Media Leadership Program at the Columbia School of Journalism.
Her book, Taking Back the Vote: Getting American Youth Involved in our Democracy, was published by Beacon Press in 2004.
William Kristol is editor of the influential Washington-based political magazine, The Weekly Standard. Widely recognized as one of the nation's leading political analysts and commentators, Mr. Kristol regularly appears on Fox News Sunday and on the Fox News Channel. Before starting The Weekly Standard in 1995, Mr. Kristol led the Project for the Republican Future, where he helped shape the strategy that produced the 1994 Republican congressional victory.
Prior to that, Mr. Kristol served as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle during the Bush administration and to Secretary of Education William Bennett under President Reagan. Before coming to Washington in 1985, Mr. Kristol taught politics at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Kristol recently co-authored The New York Times bestseller The War Over Iraq: America's Mission and Saddam's Tyranny.
Ruth W. Messinger is president of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), a faith-based international human rights organization that works to alleviate poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world.
Messinger assumed this role in 1998 following a 20-year career in public service in New York City, where she served for 12 years on the New York City Council and 8 as Manhattan borough president. She was the first woman to secure the Democratic Party's nomination for mayor in 1997. Considered a national leader in the movement to end the genocide in Sudan, Messinger was among leading anti-genocide, peace and human rights advocates called upon to advise President Obama and the special envoy for Sudan, in March 2009. In recognition of her leadership, she was recently appointed to the Obama administration's newly formed Task Force on Global Poverty and Development.
Messinger has received honorary degrees and awards from The Jewish Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College, Hebrew College and Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and awards for her service from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Women's Funding Network, Union for Reform Judaism and the American Jewish Committee. For seven consecutive years, she was among the Forward's 50 most influential Jews of the year.
Dmitriy Salita is a Ukrainian-born American boxer from Brooklyn, New York in the junior welterweight division.