New York, NY, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Nobel Laureate Robert Aumann are among ten individuals who have been named 2013 Orthodox Jewish All Stars by Jew in the City, the organization dedicated to re-branding Orthodox Jews and Judaism to the world through digital media.
This year's All Stars are an extremely accomplished and diverse group, and, in addition to Secretary Lew and Dr. Aumann, include: Sarah Hofstetter, who was promoted last week to CEO of 360i in the US (the No. 2 advertising firm on Ad Age's Agency A-List); Ari Pinchot, co-executive producer of the star-studded and critically acclaimed new film, Lee Daniels' The Butler, featuring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey; Naama Shafir, the first Orthodox female professional basketball player; Joseph Shenker, chairman of Sullivan and Cromwell (the No. 3 law firm in the country according to Vault Rankings); Rama Burshtein, writer, director and producer of the awarding-winning film, Fill the Void (and the first Hasidic woman to make a film for general audiences); Anne Neuberger, the Director of the National Security Agency's Commercial Solutions Center; Issamar Ginzberg, a marketing guru who was named one of Inc. Magazine's Top 10 Entrepreneurs (and is the grandson of prominent Hasidic rebbes); and Dr. Laurel Steinherz, Director of Pediatric Cardiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering and co-founder of Camp Simcha, a renowned camp for Jewish children with cancer.
This year's winners will be honored at a red carpet event which will coincide with a historic, once-in-a-lifetime overlap of Chanukah and Thanksgiving and will commemorate the redemption from religious persecution of Chanukah coinciding with Thanksgiving's celebration of religious freedom in our great country, which has provided Jews with the opportunity to achieve the highest levels of professional success while maintaining their heritage.
“There is a common misconception that being an Orthodox Jew means you don't have many career options,” said Allison Josephs, award-winning Jewish influencer and author, who founded Jew in the City (JewintheCity.com) six years ago to break down myths and misconceptions about religious Jews and observant Judaism. “Jew in the City is building awareness about a community that otherwise gets depicted as extreme and reclusive, and rarely is presented with any nuance."
The inaugural "Orthodox Jewish All Stars" began last year with a YouTube video written, directed, and produced by Josephs that featured an inspiring and varied group of awardees, including former Senator Joe Lieberman, Top Ten Billboard Recording Artist Alex Clare and NYTimes bestselling novelist, Faye Kellerman - all people who have reached the pinnacle of their respective fields, which ranged from HBO producer to former top title holding professional boxer - while maintaining a religiously observant lifestyle.
Many of this year's and last year's All Stars will be attending the red carpet awards party in midtown Manhattan on the evening of November 24, the Sunday night before Chanukah and Thanksgiving. Attendees will enjoy live music, an open wine bar, and Chanukah/Thanksgiving themed dishes.
"For last year's list, we sought out the individuals ourselves. This year, we opened up nominations to the public and a panel of judges selected the winners,” explained Josephs. “There were so many more remarkably successful Orthodox Jews that didn't make it to this year's list; we'll hopefully be doing this for many more years."
Josephs was named one of the Jewish Week's 36 Under 36 in 2013 and one of NJOP's Top Ten Jewish Influencers in 2012. She has been studying Torah with actress Mayim Bialik since 2004 and is often quoted in the media on issues relating to Jewish life and observance. Josephs provides Orthodox Jewish Cultural Diversity training to top corporations such as Con Edison and NYU Langone Medical Center and also gives inspirational lectures across North America. She has been featured or published in The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, Yahoo News, the Jewish Press, and The Forward, among other publications. Josephs, who is married with four children, has been involved in the field of Jewish education and outreach for over a dozen years, and received her Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in Philosophy.
Jew in the City, founded and directed by Josephs, harnesses the power of social media to break down stereotypes about religious Jews and offer a humorous, meaningful look into Orthodox Judaism. Through a website JewintheCity, YouTube channel (where its videos that have been viewed over a million times), and via Facebook and Twitter Jew in the City explains important Jewish concepts like Shabbat, keeping kosher, and mikvah, and tackles difficult topics like the Orthodox Jewish approach to homosexuality, feminism, and conversion. With a mix of light humor and rich content, Jew in the City explores these topics in a pleasant and easy to understand fashion, appealing to anyone who is curious to learn more about Orthodox Jews and observant Judaism, whether Jewish or not.
“Unfortunately, most non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews have a very negative perception of Orthodox Jews and Judaism,” said Josephs. “When they think of Orthodoxy, they think things like backwards, repressed, outdated, sexist, and anti-scientific. Scandals that reinforce these misconceptions hit the papers all too often. Popular movies, books, and TV shows repeat negative stereotypes about religious Jewish people and their lifestyles, which make it even harder to counteract these negative stereotypes. Jew in the City was created to break down those misconceptions and stereotypes.”