Forbes-ranked hedge fund manager and philanthropist Henry Swieca, BCBGeneration Creative Director Joyce Azria, and Columbia Law School Dean Emeritus David Schizer are among ten individuals who have been named 2014 Orthodox Jewish All Stars by Jew in the City, the organization dedicated to re-branding Orthodox Jews and Judaism through digital media.
In addition to Swieca, Azria and Schizer, this diverse and accomplished group includes: Saul Blinkoff, Disney animator and film director; Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin, 2014 Israel Prize winner in medicine who developed a drug to slow dementia caused by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; Yael Federbush, four time Emmy winning producer at The Today Show; Professor Barry Simon, 2012 Henri Poincare prize winner for outstanding achievements in mathematical physics; Josh Meier, 4th place winner of the 2014 Intel Prize and named “One of the Eight Whiz Kids Who Are the Future of Medicine” by CNN; Estee Ackerman, Table Tennis phenom ranked 6th in the country in her division and a 2016 Olympic hopeful; and Mindy Pollak, a Montreal Councilwoman who made history last fall as the first Hasidic woman ever to be elected to public office.
“In 2012, when we created this award, we focused on shattering people’s misconceptions about Orthodox Jews and what they could accomplish professionally. Last year, when Chanukah historically intersected with Thanksgiving, we celebrated the religious freedoms that exist in the world today which allow people of all faiths to excel in a variety of career paths,” said Allison Josephs, Jew in the City founder and director.
“This year, our message is our most crucial one yet: With anti-Semitic attacks on the rise across the globe, we are celebrating ten individuals who proudly observe Jewish traditions as they’ve soared to the tops of their fields.” As Josephs explains, “Increased anti-Semitism is a threat to all Jews and should concern all good people, but the reality is that those who look the most Jewish (i.e. the Orthodox Jewish community) are the most visible targets. These Orthodox Jewish All Stars serve as a poignant reminder that you can be a proud religious Jew and still be highly successful. No one should feel the need to hide his Judaism or observance. We must never cower in the face of anti-Semitism.”
Past Orthodox Jewish All Stars have included former Senator Joe Lieberman, Top Ten Billboard Recording Artist Alex Clare, and NYTimes bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman who all appeared in the inaugural All Stars video in 2012. Last year’s list included Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Nobel Laureate Robert Aumann, and advertising agency 360i CEO, Sarah Hofstetter.
Many of this year’s and previous year’s All Stars are expected to attend the red carpet awards party in downtown Manhattan on Tuesday evening December 2. Attendees will enjoy music, wine, and a dairy Chanukah themed dinner including latke and donut bars. A short film featuring several of the All Stars and how they’ve balanced career and observance is slated to premiere that night. The event will be emceed by Hasidic comic, Mendy Pellin, a 2012 Orthodox Jewish All Star who the New York Times called “Stephen Colbert with a beard and a black hat.” Members of the public can purchase tickets here.
Henry Swieca – Forbes-ranked Hedge Fund Manager and Philanthropist – Business and Industry
A self-made billionaire hedge fund manager, Henry Swieca is ranked among Business Insiders 2013 “36 Richest Hedge Fund Managers in the World,” and ranks seventy-fourth on Forbes for “The World’s Billionaires” in the “Investments” category, with a net worth of $1.5 billion.
Co-founder of Highbridge Capital Management and the founder of Talpion Fund Management, Mr. Swieca is the son of two Holocaust survivors who immigrated to New York in 1955. He traces his successful investing back to tender age of 19 when he lost both his parents, and used the small amount of money that his parents left for him to trade stocks to fund his brother’s and his own educations. Earning his Bachelor’s from Stony Brook University and then his MBA from Columbia Business School, Mr. Swieca began his career in 1980 at Merrill Lynch as a registered representative and later became a founding trader on the New York Futures Exchange. He then moved to E.F. Hutton and Dillon Read before launching Highbridge in 1992. An avid philanthropist, his Swieca Family Foundation benefits the American-Israel Education Foundation; the Frisch School, a New Jersey-based Jewish day school; and the National World War II Museum, among other causes.
Joyce Azria, Creative Director BCBGeneration – Business and Industry
As the eldest daughter of fashion magnate, Max Azria, Joyce inherited her father’s sharp entrepreneurial spirit, creative flair, and strong sense of ambition. At eighteen, Joyce dove straight into the family business (BCBGMAXAZRIA) —investing countless hours side-by-side with her father. With mounting interest in developing a new lifestyle collection, Joyce saw a new opportunity in intimates and swimwear. From 2002 to 2004, she served as Designer Director—launching BCBGMAXAZRIA intimates and swim lines, which garnered the attention of the fashion world. receiving rave reviews from publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W, InStyle, Elle, and Marie Claire.
In 2004 Joyce launched her own venture, JOYAAN, a high-end contemporary brand, which was carried in over five hundred boutiques worldwide. In June of 2009, BCBGMAXAZRIA GROUP appointed Joyce Azria as Creative Director of their newest line, BCBGeneration, which is sold in over two hundred locations—spanning across twenty-nine states. The brand has partnered with Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, and Dillard’s.
David Schizer, Dean Emeritus of Columbia Law School – Law and Government
David M. Schizer is Dean Emeritus and the Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics at Columbia Law School. He is one of the nation’s leading tax law scholars. Schizer began his service as the 14th dean of Columbia Law School in July 2004, becoming, at the age of 35, the youngest dean in the School’s history and one of the youngest deans ever at a leading law school. As dean, Schizer launched new centers and programs in arbitration, climate change law, constitutional governance, global legal transformation, the law of India, institutional and social change, intellectual property, Israeli legal studies, national security law, public research and leadership, sexuality and gender law, and transactional studies, among many other new initiatives and ventures. Schizer also led a $353 million capital campaign and stewarded the School through unusually challenging economic times, and he worked personally on behalf of students to ensure that their employment opportunities remained comparable to those of the generations who came before them, as well as to strengthen support for those working in government and public interest jobs. In 1971, the faculty enacted a 10-year term limit for deans, and Dean Schizer is the first to whom it applied.
Dean Schizer has now returned to teaching in the law school after his service as dean. He also serves as co-director of the Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy; co-director of the Charles Evans Gerber Transactional Studies Center; and co-director of the Center for Israeli Legal Studies.
Saul Blinkoff, Disney Director and Animator – Sports and Entertainment
Saul Blinkoff is an animator and film director who has worked on feature films, television, and advertising. He got his start as an animator at Walt Disney Studios during the Disney renaissance, working on hit films including Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan and Tarzan. His directorial debut came in 2000 on an animated action-adventure series called, Spy Groove, created for MTV. Soon after, he returned to Disney where he co-directed the animated features Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo and Kronk’s New Groove, and the hit Disney Jr. program, Doc McStuffins. Blinkoff also consulted on Tinkerbell, Fox and the Hound II, Brother Bear II, Cinderella III, and Dumbo II.
In addition to his work in feature films and television, Blinkoff has directed high profile national commercials for top clients such as Best Buy, Dunkin’ Donuts, ESPN, and Subway, as well as, the first-ever traditionally animated spots for Mercedes Benz, EA Sports and Truth.
Yael Federbush, Producer at NBCUniversal’s The Today Show – Sports and Entertainment
Four time Emmy winning Yael Federbush is a producer at NBCUniversal Inc, one of the largest mass media companies in the world. Yael graduated cum laude from New York University with a B.A. in Journalism. She began at NBCUniversal as an intern in 1989 after a year in Israel, eventually landing a position on the popular and celebrated morning program, The Today Show, the most popular morning show on television. Federbush has worked there for twenty-one years, producing for major news personalities such as, Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, Bryant Gumbel, Meredith Vieira, Tom Brokaw, Ann Curry and Jenna Bush Hager.
In keeping with the show’s image of broad and comprehensive content, Federbush has handled interviews with leading entertainers, activists and politicians. Her repertoire ranges from actors such as Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Woody Allen and Tom Hanks, to politicians such as Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres. During her years on the show, Federbush has been on the cutting edge of events, producing critical news stories of the September 11th attacks, the U.S 2003 invasion of Iraq, the OJ Simpson trial, the Columbine school shootings, and the Boston Marathon bombing. She has also produced compelling human interest stories for the show, featuring moments of optimism and universal humanism.
Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin, 2014 Winner of the Israel Prize in Medicine – Science and Medicine
Marta Weinstock-Rosin is a professor emeritus at Hebrew University’s School of Pharmacy-Institute for Drug Research. She made headlines this year for being awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in medicine for the development of a drug called “Exelon” that slows down the process of degenerative diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Weinstock-Rosin was born in Vienna in 1935 but fled to England with her family in 1939, after her father had been arrested for being a Jew. Weinstock is quoted as finding herself “three times a stranger,” for being Jewish, Orthodox, and a woman. Weinstock often defied convention, first by attending physics classes intended exclusively for men, and then by deciding to apply to medical school. She later switched to pharmacy school, attaining both a B.Pharm and an M.Sc in pharmacology. While married and pregnant she sought her PhD, never hiding her Orthodoxy, and discovered that even as a Sabbath observant research student she still managed to publish more than anyone in her lab. Weinstock-Rosin made aliyah to Israel with her husband, where she was granted a position on Tel Aviv University’s medical faculty.
Weinstock-Rosin took a research sabbatical in 1976 at the U.S International Institute of Health where she received a grant from their National Institute on Drug Abuse for her research on the mechanism of opiates. In 1981 she earned a professorship at Hebrew University, becoming head of its School of Pharmacy in 1983. The early stages of Weinstock’s development of the Exelon drug had already been in motion when she independently undertook the writing of its pharmaceutical patent, which was eventually registered exclusively in Israel in 1985. While founding her own pharmaceutical company “Avraham Pharmaceuticals LtD,” she co-developed another drug called “Ladostigil,” which attempts to prevent brain degeneration and memory impairment. She continues to contribute to research surrounding neurodegenerative diseases such as MS, ALS and strokes. Weinstock-Rosin is married to Professor Arnold Rosin, a prominent gerontologist. They have four children and twenty grandchildren.
Professor Barry Simon, 2012 Henri Poincaré Prize Winner of the International Association of Mathematical Physics – Science and Medicine
Barry Simon was born in Brooklyn, N.Y, in 1946. He received an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a PhD. in Physics from Princeton where he was also on the faculty for twelve years. Since 1981, he has been at Caltech, where he is now IBM Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. At Princeton he met and married Martha Katzin whose Princeton PhD. is in Mathematics. Martha and Barry have five children and, a growing number of grandchildren (some in the U.S and some in Israel). Barry is a frequent visitor to Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Barry has over 350 scientific papers and 16 scientific books (with 5 more due out in 2015). His research is in mathematical problems in physics, especially quantum theory, and in related areas of pure mathematics. In the 1990’s he had a hobby as a computer journalist writing extensively for PC Magazine also with four end-user computer books. In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. Barry is a 2012 winner of the Henri Poincaré Prize of the International Association of Mathematical Physics and holds honorary degrees from the Technion, Swansea University and the LMU in Munich.
Joshua Meier, Kid Genius – Science and Medicine
Eighteen-year-old Joshua Meier’s accomplishments range from science to entrepreneurship to Jewish text study. His stem cell research and discoveries at Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Stanford School of Medicine, and Harvard Medical School could offer a novel approach cancer therapy and are applicable to age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS and diabetes.
Joshua’s scientific achievements have been celebrated worldwide, including coverage by CNN who named him “One of the Eight Whiz Kids Who Are the Future of Medicine”, People Magazine, Scientific American, Fast Company, and others. Joshua has published free and profitable applications available in the Apple App Store; developed iPhone software for physicians at Columbia University Medical Center to determine patients’ visibility; advanced techniques for Higgs Boson measurements at CERN; and works part time as a computer vision engineer at Canary, a small startup building inexpensive home security devices. A pianist from age four, he plays with a local chamber ensemble and has given TED Talks.
Accepted to Harvard, Yale, Princeton and MIT, Joshua captured First Place & Best of Category at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2014, Fourth Overall at the Intel Science Talent Search in 2014, Third Overall at the Siemens Competition in 2013, and top awards at the Google Science Fair and Davidson Fellows Scholarships, resulting in over $100,000 in prizes. He served as the CEO of Provita Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company run exclusively by high school students. Joshua has won and placed in national science fairs and international Bible contests alike. In his spare time, he founded Rescue the Voice, a volunteer organization that uses a curriculum of debating strategies to empower abused youth.
Estee Ackerman, Table Tennis Phenom – Sports and Entertainment
Estee Ackerman is a teenage table tennis champion currently ranked 6th in the nation for girls thirteen and under; in 2013 she was ranked 4th in the nation for girls under thirteen. Estee has won multiple medals at US Nationals table tennis in 2012 and 2013 and has often defeated players 20 to 30 years her senior. This past spring she appeared on Rachel Ray’s morning talk show where she defeated Bobby Flay in a match.
When she was only eleven years old, Ackerman made national headlines when she dropped out of the US Nationals tournament after training for 6 months and traveling to Las Vegas, in order to keep the Jewish Sabbath. When the officials couldn’t reschedule her match, she stated that “ping pong is important to me, but my religion of Judaism is also very important to me.” Ackerman has been featured on ABC, CBS, the NYPost and more and is a 2016 Olympic hopeful.
Mindy Pollak, first Hasidic woman to be elected to public office – Law and Government
On November 3, 2013, Mindy Pollak made history by becoming the first Hasidic woman to be elected to a public office. At just 24 years old, Ms. Pollak ran for public office backed by Project Montreal, a small municipal party devoted to sustainable urbanism, with a campaign focused on unity. She now holds the office of borough councilor of the district of Claude-Ryan in Outremont.
Born in Montreal in 1988 to a Hasidic Jewish family, Pollak grew up on the border between Outremont and Plateau Mont-Royal. Her journey into the political sphere began in 2011 when she co-founded Friends of Hutchison, a neighborhood association conceived when a referendum was held to block renovation plans for a synagogue on that street. Since 2012, Pollak also sits on the Comité sur les relations intercommunautaires, which studies and releases advice to the various players in the administration. She is a voting member of the administration council of the Local Development Center (CLD les 3 Monts), which offers different programs to promising entrepreneurs, and is also a member of the comité consultatif de l’avenue Laurier, which groups together parties that are interested in the infrastructure repairs planned for this avenue.