The Koufax Phenomenon

Which famous Jews do you admire? Why?

See More

Comments (49)

(49) bernard zemsky, March 8, 2011 8:16 PM

Koufax yes, Kantor no

When you read the biography of Sandy Koufax you learn that he was not only a great pitcher but he was a a wonderful caring person. Others want to be accepted by these creeps so badly they are willing to grin and be a creep and anti social welfare for people in need.

(48) GLP, March 7, 2011 4:45 PM

Rabbi Meir Kahane

I grew up in LI, NY had everything, (speed boat, car was a track star) everything except a reason to be. Rabbi Kahane gave me that reason and like thousands of others influenced by him, took on the responsibilities of a Jew. A person of inspiration is a person of lasting influence. What can a movie star possibly leave us?

(47) Anonymous, February 27, 2011 12:37 PM


Golda Meir, the Gershwin Brothers, Oscar Hammerstein, Fanny Brice, Charles Chaplin, Woody Allen, Gilda Radner, Vladamir Horowitz, Jonas Salk the list is just too long to even begin to touch on what makes me proud to have been born a Jewess.

(46) Sam, February 13, 2011 10:17 AM

Two Great Jews

Two great Jews of blessed memory: Mr. Irving Bunim and Rabbi Meir Kahane. For all who don't know of Mr. Irving Bumin, please research on the internet. He was an outstanding Jewish leader of the 20th century who serves as a most inspiring role model for all! As for Rabbi Kahane, he had the courage to do what he could in dealing with reality on behalf of the Jewish people and Israel!

(45) Joseph Lieberman, February 13, 2011 4:04 AM

Satmar rebbe had the full attention of the State of Israel...Really.

Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I was exposed to Jews of every stripe and color. However, my father, alav hashalom, taught me at an early age that Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum zt'l, the late Satmar rebbe, was a spiritual giant who helped save Torah-true Judaism after WWII. The rebbe's unpopular stance on modern- day secular Zionism was one of the aspects of his life that made headlines. Particularly among secular Jews, including the leaders of the State of Israel, he ruffled feathers by being outspokenly critical of the new country's anti-religious policies. Later, as a young adult I did a lot of reading on the subject and came to the conclusion that what my father had taught me growing up, namely about the rebbe's saintliness, was in no way exaggerated. Although, I am not an official Satmar chosid, I do attempt to emulate the rebbe's legendary chesed oriented character by being kind to every Jew, be he/she religious or not, Zionist, Chasidic, Yeshivish, Sephardic or otherwise. He doled out many thousands of dollars in charity without any regard to the recipients' affiliations. All the rebbe was concerned with was that he was helping a fellow Jew in distress. He is my hero, and despite the fact that he was a religious leader, he very much was the center of constant media attention. His followers too, are renowned for their generous and charitable ways. He lives on with a legacy that heals, teaches and inspires. Shavuah Tov!

(44) Trevor, February 12, 2011 11:42 AM

Any Jew

Any Jewish person, male or female that "makes it" in the world of today and is not ashamed or afraid to speak up about their proud heritage has my admiraton and attention.

(43) Anonymous, February 11, 2011 9:10 PM

Columbus Community Kollel

Rabbi Meir Aronowitz and Rebettzin Devorah Aronowitz currently living in Columbus, Ohio inspire their students and everyone they encounter to be proud of being Jewish. They exemplify what it means to be a Tzadeck and Tzadechas.

(42) Charles Taub, February 10, 2011 2:19 PM

Accomplishments won't win us admiration

Jews have won 1/3 of all Nobel Prizes despite discrimination. No one from China, a nation of 1.4 billion, has ever won a Nobel prize. Jews have won more nobel prizes than Germany, France and England combined. Jews have cured polio, etc. Did that win us the world's love? Pride and self-respect are nice but don't think the world will love us for it

(41) Debbie, February 10, 2011 2:49 AM

Dudu Fisher!

He played Jean Valjean on Broadway, but he wouldn't perform on Shabbat & chagim.

(40) Mark Stern, February 9, 2011 8:34 PM

Why Albert Einstein is my choice of Jewish roll model

Albert Einstein was proud to be a Jew. As a physicist, working in a culture that is normally secular if not agnostic, he made statements of faith. When Einstein kept looking for order in the universe, and collegues would ask him why, he would answer: Because G*d does not play dice with the universe. In Einstein's quest for the underlying laws that control the physical world, he always was driven by faith in a Creator, and when in doubt, he kept trying because he had faith that there is a G*d who created and controls the universe. Faith is a very rare quality in scientists. But Einstein was a proud Jew who did not hesitate to affirm his faith.

(39) Fred, February 9, 2011 10:20 AM

Eddie Fisher and Al Jolson

Love them both. Great performers. Jolson could captivate an audience and Fisher had the greatest voice of all the singers. Shame he had bad choices in women.

(38) unlisted, February 9, 2011 5:33 AM

"Celebrity" and "admire" do not compute in the Jewish value system

I admire our great avos and the great tzadikkim of the present and past. The reasons so-called "celebrities" are famous-- Jewish and otherwise-- are worthless and certainly not deserving of admiration.

(37) Jerry Zerg, February 9, 2011 2:53 AM

Recognition is based on behavior, as well as accomplishment.

In response to the question why do Jews take pride in the accomplishments of fellow Jews, the general answer is that we all take pride in the achievement of those who have an identity similar to ourselves. As an American, I take pride in any American that has excelled in a positive action or profession when in competition with the rest of the world. As a Californian, I take pleasure in the success of fellow Californians whose competitors come from other states. As an architect, pilot, magician, Shriner, Lion, Republican and octogenarian, I have great satisfaction when members of those groups make significant contributions to society and to our community. However, as a Jew, it is even more important to acknowledge and take comfort in the success of other Jews because it is our responsibility to extinguish the anti-Semitism and mischaracterizations which Jews have suffered throughout the world during the past 3000 years. Hopefully the day will come when we all can relish in the accomplishment of noteworthy individuals, regardless of their race, religion or members of any specific group. Since Judaism is primarily a religion of behavior, not belief, the Jews I admire most are those who abide by the Commandments and carry out the precepts of Rabbi Hillel who said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? However, if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” My admiration for non-Jews is based on the same criteria.

(36) EBen, February 9, 2011 2:44 AM

I feel pride for many reasons, one being that we are such a small minority in the world, and yet we reach for heights in so many areas such as science, writing, the arts, etc. I recall the first time I heard Adam Sandler sing "Here Comes Hannukka." I felt a sense of incredible pride with that song because I, yes, felt like the only different kid where I lived growing up. The pride is a way to connect with other Jewish people. I felt very alone growing up and somewhat silent. Our pride is also our voice of belonging to something much bigger than ourselves.

(35) Ann Cohen, February 9, 2011 2:40 AM

Eric Cantor the new house majorty leader! Shows that Jew can be in the GOP

(34) David S. Levine, February 9, 2011 1:50 AM

Buz, comment #10

A comment like that of Buz, 310, deserves a "thank you, also" so here's mine: Thank YOU Biz!

(33) David S. Levine, February 9, 2011 1:42 AM

Steven Spielberg, Eric Cantor

I think Steven Spielberg meets all of Rabbi Solomon's requirements. Although he is a Democrat and I, to say the least, definitely am not Spielberg has both risen to the heights of the film industry without debasing American culture (no mean feat in today's Hollywood) and has given back to the Jewish People. He is someone I admire despite his politics where he unfortunately also puts his money where his mouth is. Another Jew worth admiring is Congressman Eric Cantor. He has risen to the heights of the Republican Party and this proves how great that Party is because it has given Congressman Cantor its confidence although it receives a small minority of Jewish votes. Think of all the Democ-rats of Jewish origin who have served in the House of Representatives and remember that none have risen as high in that body through that Party as Congressman Cantor has risen through the Republican Party. As Rabbi Solomon might put it, SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT!

(32) Anonymous, February 9, 2011 1:35 AM

Jew I admire

I agree with comment #14. I greatly admire Aaron Feuerstein. After Malden Mills burned he could so easily have called it quits taken his money and run. Instead, he felt a great responsibilty for his employees and made sure that they would receive their pay. He should be admired for doing what was morally right. He is a true hero to me.

(31) Judah Rosen, February 9, 2011 12:38 AM

a little different take

I'm more ashamed that Cantor and Lieberman are Jewish. But I'm quite proud that Feinstein and Boxer are.

(30) Anonymous, February 9, 2011 12:19 AM

Now I admire them too

Thank you, Sue, for your comment (#19) about great Jewish women. Wow, magnificent role models!

(29) Austin Kuder, February 8, 2011 11:51 PM

What's not to feel proud about?

I'm not Jewish so the whole question seems kind of silly. Gentiles don't ask themselves what is there to be proud about. Jews make a wonderful contribution to society. As a people/ religion they are probably better educated and more successful than any other group. Are there statistics to confirm this?

(28) Anonymous, February 8, 2011 11:07 PM

Pet Peeve

I am frustrated by our worship ofpeople in the public who are Jewish but do not care about their religion .I admire the Leibermans and the Koufaxesof the World.

(27) James Kendall, February 8, 2011 9:35 PM

Religious, Entertainment and exploration

In the religious category I would have to say Rabbi Heschel. He was such a profound writer and thinker. In the entertainment world I would have to say Leonard Nemoy. He has been a wonderful actor, narrator and even a photographer. His latest photography work even is titled Shekhina. And I admire Ilan Ramon who was one of the astronaunts of the Columbia disaster. To put your life on the line to expand man's understanding of our that is worthy of respect. Honestly, sport stars never really interest me much. So I can't say there is anyone out there that garners much respect from me there.

(26) herb silverman, February 8, 2011 9:29 PM

steven speilberg

his documentry works and his dedication to jewish and non jewish causeu

(25) yehudit r, February 8, 2011 8:55 PM

admirable Jew

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is someone I admire immensely--she had to demonstrate, through her work, that women are capable of being good lawyers, teachers, and judges, and in the process, even hid a pregnancy so she wouldn't get fired. Despite being diagnosed with cancer, she continued working aon the Supreme Court, handing down rulings that influence the whole country.

(24) EmRo, February 8, 2011 8:19 PM

People like Congresswoman Giffords

A tragedy brought her story to light, but her Judaism is also a part of that story. Although she won't be considered Jewish by anyone at AISH, Congresswoman Giffords chose to identify with the Jewish people, through her father's lineage. I think that the pride she displays in choosing Judaism is a lesson for all those that are born Jews, but couldn't care less. If only the "born Jews" would wear their Judaism as proudly as she does.

(23) j lashak-korogodsky, February 8, 2011 7:57 PM

Rita Levi-Montalcini

What a Lady, one hundred years old and still working everyday, proud to be a jew, proud to help women, proud to make a difference in Mussolini¨s Italy.

(22) Semyon, February 8, 2011 7:27 PM


What makes me so proud about famous fellow Jewish,is that:even them began to realized that is time for all of us to com back, and they do that without hesitation. That they ARE GOOD example to rest of us. Thank you Semyon Flushing,NY.

(21) Marilyn Cohen, February 8, 2011 7:06 PM

which Jews make me proud

Those Jews who accomplish something and give something back to the world: Jewish Nobel Prize winners, or those like Rosalind Yallow (sp?), who laid the groundwork for the discovery of DNA and was not recognized. NOT entertainers, even though I love a good Jewish comedian like the old-time comics.

(20) Anonymous, February 8, 2011 6:35 PM

pride from famous Jews

Ilan ramon, the Israeli-Jewish astronaut, was proud of his Jewishness. He requested that NASA prepare kosher food for him, he took with him a tiny sefer Torah saved from the Holocaust and went on the spaceship as a proud representative of Am Yisrael.

(19) Karen, February 8, 2011 6:33 PM

many but did they contribute to God's glory?

David Baron was a brilliant Jewish mind. There are many.

(18) Sue, February 8, 2011 6:32 PM

Jewish women whom I admire tremendously - bet you didn't know them

1. Gertrude Elion - Nobel Prize winner in Medicine in 1988. She had so much discrimination against her as a woman - she had no Ph.D. and had never worked in a university. She was only encouraged to take a secretarial course and she found the cure for childhood leukemia, gout, herpes, and AZT for AIDS came from her lab. The Nobel prize committee initially didn't believe she had done all that research and they found obviously that she did. 2. Esther Levanon - the present head of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange - age 64 with a great sense of humor and pride in Israel and ideas for Israel to go forward. 3. Eilat Mazar - a widow raising her kids discovered the City of David (with help from her grandfather initially). Enormously competent - I saw her speaking Arabic to the Arabs working for her and stands by her research.

(17) Anonymous, February 8, 2011 6:30 PM

Under the radar

I'm happy when a day goes by without a Jew being mentioned in a negative way in the press.Better to stay out of the limelight.

(16) el, February 8, 2011 6:25 PM

my voice

is for itzik manger and banjamin blech

(15) howard yagerman, February 8, 2011 6:23 PM


The feeling that we as a people do for the good of the human race and not just for ourselves.I admire a Salk or Sabin more than a Zuckerberg.Why? Because Salk cured a dread disese, a scourge of mankind while Zuckerberg did what he did to become wealthy.

(14) David, February 8, 2011 6:16 PM

Don't much care about actors...

Although I'm impressed with (and proud of) scientific geniuses like Einstein and Steven Gould, as well as literary figures like Sholom Aleichem and artists like Chagall and Modigliani, I'm mostly taken with outstanding Jewish soldiers and sailors (Uriah Levy, Hyman Rickover, Moshe Dayan, etc.) See: We've always had a reputation for being clever, but I think we owe a debt of gratitude to those who got us past the stereotype of the Jewish weakling. "Making it" means going past the stereotypes.

(13) Kevin Ross, February 8, 2011 5:03 PM

Aaron Feuerstein

Aaron Feuerstein is my choice.

(12) chayah, February 8, 2011 4:44 PM

we are meshpuchah

I've always felt that Jews the world over are family. Since I feel that way, it makes sense that I feel proud when they "do good" and the "bad guys" make me feel sad, angry and ashamed . I've always felt proud that Jonas Salk was a Jew....imagine the lives that have been impacted by his discovery of the Polio vaccine! I think doing something great for humanity can't be beat, and when it's a Jew, I feel like, that's my relative!

(11) Anonymous, February 8, 2011 4:34 PM

Sandy is my choice of an example, as you said he refused to play on Yom Kippur. That shows that he is a Jew, and tried to live as one, to the extent that he knew how. If a Jew is acting in a lowly manner (see comments above), we would do better to not have them in public view. If a Jew stands up for his beliefs, putting it before fame and fortune, he is what we call a Kiddush Hashem, someone that leads others to respect G-d. Wierd thought, having Jewish actors winning awards makes me think about an ethnic quota in colleges. They are only token Jews, and use the name, but do not practice the laws of Judaism, so what have they done for us? They have added the Golus mindset, the mindset of assimilation, and we truly do not need that to help us to return to Hashem and His ways. Thank you for making us think!

(10) , February 8, 2011 3:27 PM

We are a family. When one of our family is honoured I have a feeling of pride as part of the family. The greater the hon our, the stronger the feeling.

(9) buz, February 8, 2011 2:47 PM

An outsider's view

Is it okay for an Irish Catholic boy to join in here? Jews represent such a tiny per centage of the world's population. They have contributed far beyond their numbers to collective human knowledge and culture. No wonder they're persecuted. How can I single out one or even a few who I most admire. From Maimonedes to Netanyahu, from scientists, educators, philosophers, entertainers, sportsmen and warriors, this people is a wonderful blessing on humanity. The rest of us owe you much. Thank you.

(8) lisa, February 6, 2011 9:49 PM

The Way We Were.......

We are not any worse off or better off bc Barbra Streisand is a Jew.....However it is nice to know that she came from a Jewish Brooklyn family & had to struggle to get where she is now. She also doesn't hide her many of her concerts (Oy, that gorgeous, rich voice!!) & films (like Yentel) she adds a Jewish flavor by saying a few Yiddish words or phrases. She also just gave millions to research heart disease for women. To me, all these things make me proud that she is a Jew.

(7) Anonymous, February 6, 2011 7:49 PM

Life of Ease

I don't think people like or respect the job of an actor, only that from the outside, it looks like a life of ease, like a life of no worries, only lightness and fun--so no one wants to think of the other things that go along with it or that can be going on with it.

(6) TMay, February 6, 2011 7:47 PM

My top choices

Golda Meir and Einstein. They were leaders, and had brains, humility, and compassion. Each was a mensch.

(5) dev, February 6, 2011 6:38 PM

Jewish Celebrities: Good For the Jews?

I don't really like having Jewish celebrities, because people finger-point at them and talk about their religion as if it matters, when it usually doesn't mater all that much to the well-known Jew, anyhow. Here's the thing: We wouldn't be so hard on these Jewish nominees if they were not Jewish. If they were any other religion, we'd say they were doing an okay job. For Jews, we expect better, though it is always nice when a Jews is able to use his or her talents for good (IF he is using his or her talents for good).

(4) temima, February 6, 2011 4:41 PM

It's not their fault

James Franco said he never even had a Bar Mitzva, though he is interested in having one. Natalie Portman stopped going to Jewish school, which she hated, once she did the movie the Professional, and the Jewish girls in her class were mean to her, and she went to public school after that. So she has a very young girl's education, at best. These are two people who must have had religious and knowledgeable great-grandparents, but who's own Judaism is very watered-down. Do you really expect James Franco to care about more than his own sense of fun and excitement and work? Do you expect Natalie Portman to act and differently, say blessings over food, or have a Jewish husband? They seem to be (unfortunately) like most everyone else. It's a shame, because they are both smart and Jewish, and could be so much more. Maybe we'll all get to see that some day.

(3) shulamit, February 6, 2011 3:39 PM

better than the ovens, i guess

i guess when people like james franco and natalie portman are free to be actors instead of living in a ghetto or being exterminated by other nations, we're happy. but i'm not sure why anyone cares about the money they earn or recognition for something as silly as acting, unless people are just happy to be entertained, whether by a circus clown, an elephant, a gentile, or a jew.

(2) su, February 6, 2011 3:27 PM

Why should we be proud?

Why should we be proud that Jews are behaving just like non-Jews? Oscar nominations for people like Jesse Eisenberg, James Franco , Hailee Steinfeld, Natalie Portman, and the Coen brothers are nothing new and nothing wonderful. Shouldn't we celebrate Jews who behave like Jews? Jews who adhere to the Torah? Jews who give Jews a good name for being Jewish, not for reciting lines someone else wrote? When that day comes--when we see and are impressed with Jews who make Jews look good specifically because they are living the Torah True life--we can be proud and we can celebrate.

(1) Mordechai Shuali, February 6, 2011 2:41 PM

Proud or Vindicated?

Is it pride or a feeling of vindication that I do not live a very Jewish/Torah life? Maybe a bit of both . . . even if we don't realize it. Pride: WOW! Look at the eternity of our people! No matter how involved in the world we get, we are unable to forget our heritage completely. Something always remains. This should give us all “something to think about.” Maybe there really IS something different about us Jews. Something I should look into. The Egyptian empire is no longer. The Babylonian, Persian, Median, and Greek Empires have long perished. Only the Jews, with our Torah intact and with our Yeshivot growing by the day still exist. And they do so exactly as they did 100, 1000, 3,000 years ago. Vindication: See, you can be "Jewish" and be part of the non-Jewish world as well. Whew! So I am not so bad that I only go to temple/synagogue/shul once, twice, or three times a year. I go. I am still "Jewish." Something else to “think about.” Is that really enough? Is that why we have survived for over 3,000 years? Is baseball, football, movies, even business, medicine, and academia really the reason for our continued existence?


Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment

Receive Weekly Current Issues Emails

Sign up to our Current Issues Jewsletter.

Our privacy policy