Ruth Messinger Named in Top Spot of Most Influential American Jews

 

Ruth Messinger Named in Top Spot of Most Influential American Jews

September 30, 2007

Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), was selected for the sixth year in a row as one of the 50 most influential American Jews by The Forward and as a “top pick” among the “Forward 50” for the second year in a row. The award recognizes Messinger’s extraordinary leadership and passion in igniting the American Jewish community to address global social justice and her influence on American foreign policy to address the needs of people in the developing world.

In the November 10 issue, The Forward distinguishes Messinger as “more visible than ever on the world stage, firmly established as La Pasionaria of Jewish social activism.” As president of AJWS since 1998, Messinger “runs a worldwide network of economic development and social change programs – 250 projects in 40 countries – and commands a small army of volunteers around the globe fighting disease, building water systems, teaching literacy and, not incidentally, making friends for the Jewish people.”

In addition, The Forward credits Messinger with guiding the U.S. government in helping devastated communities after the 2004 Asian tsunami and demanding action to end the genocide in Darfur.

“No single American has been more central in mobilizing public protest over the genocide in Sudan; it's part of her larger vision of religious engagement with Africa and the Third World,” wrote The Forward.

The Forward 50 selects American Jews who “are doing and saying things that are making a difference in the way American Jews …view the world and themselves.” These individuals “embody the spirit of Jewish action, as it is emerging in America, and all of them have left a mark.”

Messinger has been the president of AJWS, an international development organization motivated by Judaism’s imperative to pursue justice, since 1988. AJWS is dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the developing world regardless of race, religion or nationality. Through grants to grassroots organizations, volunteer service, advocacy and education, AJWS fosters civil society, sustainable development and human rights for all people, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship within the Jewish community.

Complete citation from the November 10, 2006 edition of The Forward is as follows:

“In November 1997, after Ruth Messinger was trounced in her bid to unseat New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, ending her long career in municipal politics, the smart money said the onetime schoolteacher and city councilwoman would slip quietly into obscurity. Nine years later, Messinger, 66, is more visible than ever on the world stage, firmly established as La Pasionaria of Jewish social activism. President of American Jewish World Service, she runs a worldwide network of economic development and social change programs - 250 projects in 40 countries - and commands a small army of volunteers around the globe fighting disease, building water systems, teaching literacy and, not incidentally, making friends for the Jewish people. In 2005, as we noted in last year's Forward 50, she was in the Oval Office advising President Bush on how to get emergency relief to tsunami-ravaged South Asia. This past spring found her outside the White House, leading a mass rally to demand an end to genocide in Darfur. No single American has been more central in mobilizing public protest over the genocide in Sudan; it's part of her larger vision of religious engagement with Africa and the Third World. When the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, appeared before the United Nations General Assembly in September and accused ‘Zionist organizations’ of cooking up the international outcry against his government's massacres, few listeners had any doubt whom he had in mind.”