New York, NY; November 19, 2009 — AJWS president Ruth Messinger has been named to the Forward 50 an annual compilation of the 50 most influential public figures in the American Jewish community. This year marks the eighth time Messinger has made the list, including recognition as a “top pick” in 2006.
“(Ruth Messinger) the indefatigable president of the American Jewish World Service, distinguished herself this year as one of the leading Jewish voices on the national stage fighting against poverty and for human rights,” Forward wrote. “She simply never gives up. In March, when the Obama administration called upon advocates to advise the new special envoy to Sudan, Messinger — an early and consistent foe of the genocide in Darfur — was among them. In July, when the administration appointed a Task Force on Global Poverty and Development, Messinger was on the panel.
“But Messinger’s work goes well beyond the halls of power. She is often found in the slums of India or with HIV/AIDS patients in Peru. And she’s willing to speak truth to power, as she did in the commencement address this year to graduates of the Jewish Theological Seminary. ‘This is a time when we need to determine what we stand for, who we really are,’ she said. ‘We must be able to help people of all ages answer the question: Why be Jewish? To resonate, the answer must be more than tribal identity. You must encourage people to acknowledge that our world is broken and that being Jewish in the world today means working to fix it.'”
Messinger said, of the honor: “In Forward’s wonderful tribute to me, it said that I ‘simply never give up.’ That is true. The causes we pursue at AJWS – fighting hunger and poverty, ending genocide, empowering women and advocating for people living with HIV and AIDS – are too important to our civilization’s future for us to retreat to the convenience of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of our challenges.
“I’m truly honored to have made the Forward 50 again and thrilled that the Jewish community values AJWS’s mission much as we do.”
Added AJWS chair Barbara Dobkin: “Ruth Messinger is not only an ideal representative of AJWS to the Jewish community, but a perfect representative of the Jewish community to the rest of the world. Her passion for justice and commitment to human rights for all infuses everything she does.
“For Judaism to remain relevant in the 21st century, we need more leaders like Ruth, who inspire with their words and back their words up with action.”
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