List of 'Top 144 Heroes of the Jewish People' Released by Israeli Museum

Who made the cut? A sneak preview of the full list from Tel Aviv's Beit Hatfutsot museum.

(Clockwise) Tal Brody, Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, Donna Karan, Ayn Rand, Ovadia Yosef, Mark Zuckerberg, Dana International, Albert Einstein.
Yaakov Sa'ar, GPO, Moti Milrod, AP, Tomer Appelbaum, Bloomberg, Reuters

Who made the ultimate list of Jewish luminaries compiled by Israel’s Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People?

Perhaps even more intriguing is who didn’t make the cut.

A new exhibition titled “Heroes – Trailblazers of the Jewish People,” scheduled to open next month when the museum open its new wing, will showcase 144 top names in disciplines ranging from epistemology through espionage, with lots in between.

It includes many of the usual suspects – Maimonides, Albert Einstein, Anne Frank, Henrietta Szold, Theodor Herzl, Mark Spitz, Barbra Streisand, Sigmund Freud and Steven Spielberg, to name a few.

But also some less consensual names. Ayn Rand, the right-wing philosopher and writer, and Hannah Arendt (of “banality of evil” fame) are some examples. “We have no problem with controversy,” says Orit Shaham Gover, the museum’s chief curator.

Aside from David Ben-Gurion, no Israeli prime minister, living or dead, made the list. Those who might have expected a list of this sort to include literary luminaries like Saul Bellow, Philip Roth or Amoz Oz will be disappointed. Although great efforts were invested in making the list as inclusive and diverse as possible, Ashkenazi men clearly dominate the selection.

A group of the 144 “heroes” – some cited individually and some in clusters, according to discipline – will be showcased in special interactive exhibits designed for young museum visitors. The museum had this target audience in mind, says Shaham Gover, when compiling its list of inspirational Jewish figures. “We chose lots of people who used their brains, because we wanted children to understand that to be a hero you don’t need be a celebrity, but you do need to work hard,” she says. “That’s the hidden message here.”

Here is a sneak preview of the full list:


 Mark Spitz

 Esther Roth-Shahamorov

 Agnes Keleti

 Max Baer

 Sandy Koufax

 Emanuel Lasker

 Judit Polgar

 Tal Brody

 Victor Perez

 Harold Abrahams

 Red Auerbach


 Simcha Blass

 Ada Yonath

 Albert Einstein

 Lise Meitner

 Rosalind Franklin

 Serg Haroche

 Claude Cohen-Tannoudji

 Baruj Benacerraf

 Lev Landau

 Richard Feynman

 Niels Bohr

 John von Neumann

 Eldad Ha-Dani

 Gregory Pincus

 Jonas Salk

Cultural icons:

 Moshe Safdie

 Enrico Macias

 Alber Elbaz

 Albert Memmi

 Patrick Modiano

 Claude Lelouch

 Gad Elmaleh

 Woody Allen

 Bob Dylan

 Barbra Streisand

 Frank Gehry

 Daniel Libeskind

 Ralph Lauren

 Diane Von Furstenberg

 Donna Karan

 Michael Kors

 Steven Spielberg

 Stan Lee

 Joel Coen

 Ethan Coen

 Jerry Seinfeld

 Gustav Mahler

 Ofra Haza

 Felix Mendelssohn

 Arik Einstein

 Shoshana Damari

 George Gershwin

 Saleh and Daoud Al-Kawity

 Habiba Msika

 Amedeo Modigliani

 Roy Lichtenstein

 Chaim Soutine

 Mark Rothko

 Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro

 Marc Chagall

 Ibn Gabirol

 Shmuel Yosef Agnon

 Chaim Nachman Bialik

 Franz Kafka

 Shalom Aleichem

 Clarice Lispector

 Jacqueline Shohet Hahanoff

 Leah Goldberg

 Tristan Tzara

 Heinrich Heine

 Isaac Babel

 Gertrude Stein

 Nadine Gordimer

 Elias Canetti

 Yaqub Sanu

 Layla Murad

 Louis B. Mayer

 Esther Victoria Abraham

 Sergei Eisenstein

 Nora Ephron

 Dana International

 Erez Biton

 Souad Zaki


 Karl Marx

 Sigmund Freud


 Ayn Rand

 Moses Mendelssohn

 Hannah Arendt

 Jacques Derrida

 Claude Levi-Strauss

 Martin Buber

 Joseph Caro


 Baruch Spinoza

 Theodor Herzl

 Baal Shem Tov

 Rosa Luxemburg

 Betty Friedan

 Leon Trotsky

 Ze’ev Jabotinsky

 Louis Brandeis

 Yitzhak Sadeh

 Eliezer Ben Yehuda

 Ovadia Yosef



 Judas Maccabeus

 King David

 David Ben-Gurion

 Shmuel Hanagid

 Joshua ben Nun

 Benjamin Disraeli

 Helen Suzman

 Yehudah Hanasi

 Henrietta Szold

Courageous Individuals:

 Lydia Litvyak

 Sarah Aaronsohn

 Joseph Trumpeldor


 Moshe Marzouk

 Shmuel Azar

 Alfred Dreyfus

 Leopold Trepper

 Nathan Elbaz

 Eli Cohen

 Jacob Antebi

 Mickey Marcus

 Bracha Fuld

 Hannah Szenes

 Anne Frank

Economics and business entrepreneurs:

 Mayer Amschel Rothschild

 Sergey Brin

 Larry Page

 David Sassoon

 Dona Gracia Nasi

 Helena Rubinstein

 Mark Zuckerberg

 Levi Strauss

 Daniel Kahneman

 Marcus Goldman

 Gil Shwed

 Paul Julius Reuter

 Larry Ellison

 Milton Friedman