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Notable American Jews

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American Jews, also known as Jewish Americans, are American citizens of the Jewish faith or Jewish ethnicity. The Jewish community in the United States is composed predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews who emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe, and their U.S.-born descendants. A minority from all Jewish ethnic divisions are also represented, including Sephardi Jews, Mizrahi Jews, and a number of converts. The American Jewish community manifests a wide range of Jewish cultural traditions, as well as encompassing the full spectrum of Jewish religious observance.


Jews have been present in what is today the United States of America as early as the seventeenth century, if not earlier, though they were small in numbers and almost exclusively immigrants of Spanish and Portuguese ancestry. Large scale Jewish immigration, however, did not commence until the nineteenth century, when, by mid-century, many secular Ashkenazi Jews from Germany arrived in the United States, primarily becoming merchants and shop-owners. There were approximately 250,000 Jews in the United States by 1880, many of them being the educated, and largely secular, German Jews, although a minority population of the older Sephardic Jewish families remained influential.

List of progenitorial Jewish American families

List of notable American Jews


  • Irwin Chanin architect and builder whose skyline signature was formed of jazzy Art Deco towers and six elegant Broadway theaters.
  • Frank Gehry, Canadian American architect and Pritzker Prize winner
  • Daniel Libeskind, Polish-born American architect, selected by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to oversee the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, both parents are Holocaust survivors
  • Richard Meier, architect and Pritzker Prize winner
  • Roy Bernard Sparkia Designed and created the Empire State Building illuminated panels depicting the 7 wonders of the world


  • Diane Arbus, photographer and writer
  • Richard Avedon, Russian American portrait photographer
  • Al Capp, cartoonist and humorist; best-known for the satirical comic strip Li'l Abner
  • Diane von Furstenberg, Belgian American fashion designer
  • Ralph Lauren, Belarusian American fashion designer and business executive
  • Stan Lee, comic book writer, editor, actor, producer, publisher, television personality, and the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics
  • Jacques Lipchitz Twentieth Century acclaimed and innovative Cubist sculptor
  • Mark Rothko, Russian-born American abstract expressionistic painter
  • Joe Shuster, Superman comic book artist.


  • Benny Friedman Great football player who invented the forward pass. Won the Downtown Athletic Club trophy before it was renamed the Heisman.
  • Sandy Koufax, former MLB pitcher for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers; inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Sid Luckman, greatest long range quarterback passer of his time. Pulitzer prize winning sports writer.
  • Lipman Pike, first professional baseball player, first Jewish baseball player, first baseball home run champion
  • Hank Greenberg, major league slugger and member of the Hall of Fame

Business and Finance

  • Sergey Brin, Russian-born American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur, co-founder of Google
  • William Fox Motion Picture Pioneer. Founder of the Fox Film Corporation.
  • Ruth Handler Co-founder and President of Mattel, creator of the Barbie Doll
  • Larry Page, computer scientist and internet entrepreneur, co-founder of Google
  • Dr. Edward Land co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation
  • Ralph Levitz, Known as the co-founder of Levitz Furniture, the largest furniture retail ("wholesale showrooms") in the US from 1968 thru the early 2000's.
  • Helena Rubenstein, American businesswoman and entrepreneur, founder of the cosmetic line, descendant of a distinguished rabbinical family
  • Fred Zadek Salomon, German American businessman, founded Salomon Bros., the first general merchandise store in Denver.
  • Louis Bry, German American businessman, founded Bry's Department Store in Memphis.
  • Howard Schultz, German American businessman and entrepreneur; best-known as the chairman and CEO of Starbucks
  • Gloria Steinem, feminist, journalist, and social and political activist and co-founder of Ms. Magazine
  • Levi Strauss, German-born American businessman and entrepreneur; founder of Levi Strauss & Co. clothing company
  • Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., businessman, publisher and chairman of the New York Times
  • James Warburg, American banker and financial adviser to Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Mark Zuckerberg, computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of Facebook

Composers and Songwriters‎

  • Franz Waxman, German-born critically acclaimed composer of film music, nominated twelve times for the Academy Awards and won two Oscars and the Golden Globe Award. Scored Bride of Frankenstein, Sunset Boulevard, Rear Window, and A Place in the Sun.
  • Irving Berlin, Russian-born, considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history, nominated eight times for Academy Awards. God Bless America, Alexander's Ragtime Band, There's No Business Like Show Business, White Christmas, and Easter Parade are just a few of his timeless classics.
  • Leonard Bernstein, conductor, "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history."
  • George Gershwin, creator of such classics as Summertime, Rhapsody In Blue and I Got Rhythm.
  • Phillip Glass, one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century
  • Jerome Kern, American composer of popular music, best known for "The Way You Look Tonight", which won the Academy Award in 1936, and the musical Showboat.
  • Marvin Hamlisch, an American composer, winner of several Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, and a Tony.
  • Richard Rodgers, Composer of music, more than 900 songs and 43 Broadway musicals.
  • Arnold Shoenberg Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement
  • Stephen Sondheim, American composer and lyricist, winner of eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy awards, and one Oscar.
  • Danny Elfman, American composer of film music, nominated four times for the Oscars and winner of the Grammy Award and Emmy Award.
  • Hans Zimmer. German-born composer of film music, winner of four Grammy Awards, three Classical BRIT Awards, two Golden Globes, and one Oscar.



Also see: Notable comedians

  • Paula Abdul, American singer, songwriter, choreographer, dancer, television personality and actress of Syrian Jewish descent
  • Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg), Yiddish-speaking film director, writer, actor, musician, and stand-up comedian; raised in an Orthodox Jewish family
  • Theda Bara Silent film actress of the 1910's and 20's and early American sex symbol.
  • Jack Benny, (born Benjamin Kubelsky), American comedian
  • Mel Blanc "The Man Of A Thousand Voices" Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Woody Woodpecker and 100s more.
  • George Burns, (born Nathan Birnbaum), actor and comedian
  • David Copperfield Magician
  • Tony Curtis, (born Bernard Schwartz), Actor
  • Billy Crystal, actor, writer, producer, comedian and film director
  • Michael Douglas, American actor and producer of Belarusian descent
  • Robert Downey Jr., American actor, producer, screenwriter, singer and songwriter of Russian Jewish descent
  • David Draiman Lead singer for the metal band Disturbed
  • Richard Dreyfuss, American actor of German Jewish descent
  • Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman), American singer-songwriter, musician, poet and painter of Lithuanian Jewish descent
  • Louis (Larry) Feinberg, American comedian, known for being Larry of The Three Stooges
  • Harrison Ford, American film actor and producer of Belarusian Jewish descent
  • Jeff Goldblum, Actor
  • Lorne Greene, best know for his role as Ben Cartwright on the western Bonanza.
  • Goldie Hawn, American actress, producer and director of Hungarian Jewish descent
  • Jonah Hill Actor and Comedian
  • Jerome "Curly" Howard, (born Jerome Lester Horwitz), American comedian, known for being Curly of The Three Stooges
  • Moe Howard, (born Moses Harry Horwitz), American comedian, known for being Moe of The Three Stooges
  • Harry Houdini, Hungarian-born American magician, escapologist, stunt performer, actor and film producer
  • Kate Hudson, American actress of Hungarian Jewish descent
  • Al Jolson, (born Asa Yoelson) "The World's Greatest Entertainer" of his day.
  • Danny Kaye singer, dancer, comedian and actor.
  • Michael Landon, best know for his roles as Little Joe Cartwright in Bonanza and Charles Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie.
  • Peter Lorre, (born László Löwenstein), Austrian-American actor
  • Bill Maher, American stand-up comedian, television host, political commentator, author, and actor
  • Chico Marx, American comedian and film star; first-born Marx Brothers
  • Harpo Marx, American comedian and film star; second-born Marx Brothers
  • Groucho Marx, American comedian and film star; third-born Marx Brothers
  • Gummo Marx, American actor and theatrical agent; forth-born Marx Brothers
  • Jackie Mason (born Yacov Moshe Maza), stand-up comedian
  • Bette Midler, singer, actress and comedian
  • Marilyn Monroe actress, singer, and model
  • Paul Newman Academy Award-winning actor and film director
  • Leonard Nimoy , Yiddish-speaking son of Orthodox Jewish parents; film director, actor, writer, singer, songwriter, poet, and photographer; wrote and directed on the Star Trek films and series in which he played Mr. Spock.
  •, Canadian-born American actor, author, screenwriter, and director, played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek films and series.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow, American actress and singer of Russian Jewish descent
  • Sarah Jessica Parker, actress and producer
  • Sean Penn , American actor, screenwriter, director and producer of Lithuanian and Russian Jewish descent
  • Scarlett Johansson, American-born actress of Polish Jewish descent.
  • Natalie Portman (born Natalie Hershlag), Israeli-born American actress.
  • Gal Gadot, Israeli-born American actress.
  • Jesse Eisenberg, actor, author, and playwright.
  • Michael Rosenbaum, actor and comedian.
  • David Mazouz, actor.
  • Corey Haim, American Jewish child actor best known for his role as Sammy in "The Lost Boys".
  • Corey Scott Feldman, American Jewish child actor best known for his role as Edgar Frog in "The Lost Boys".
  • Joan Rivers (Joan Alexandra Molinsky Sanger Rosenberg), comedienne,
  • Seth Rogan Actor and comedian
  • Adam Sandler Actor and Comedian
  • Paul Simon , American singer-songwriter, musician, and record producer of Hungarian Jewish descent
  • Jerry Springer Talk show host.
  • Jerry Seinfeld American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and television and film producer of Hungarian Jewish descent; best-known for his role on Seinfeld
  • Barbra Streisand , two-time Academy Award-winning singer, theatre and film actress, songwriter, composer, and film producer and director
  • Dame Elizabeth Taylor Oscar-winning English/American film actress
  • Debra Winger, actress
  • Henry Winkler Fonzie on the 1970s American sitcom Happy Days

Film directors and producers

  • Stanley Kubrick, American born director, considered one of the greatest and most influential cinematic directors.
  • Michael Curtiz Hungarian-American film director, Academy Award winner for Casablanca.
  • Samuel Goldwyn, Polish-born American Producer
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg American film producer and CEO of DreamWorks Animation.
  • Louis B. Mayer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Ukrainian born American Producer
  • Lorne Michaels created Saturday Night Live
  • Steven Spielberg, American-born Director of Hungarian descent
  • William Wyler Academy Award winning Director, helmed Ben-Hur (1959), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and Mrs. Miniver (1942).
  • Mel Brooks, American-born director, producer and comedian, did "Young Frankenstein (1978)."
  • William Friedkin, American-born director of Ukrainian Jewish descent, directed "The Exorcist (1973)."
  • Joel T. Schumacher, American born director of Swedish Jewish descent, directed "The Lost Boys (1987)."
  • Sam Raimi, American-born director of Polish Jewish descent, helmed the original Spider-Man trilogy.
  • Jon Favreau, American born director of Russian Jewish descent, directed "Iron Man (2008)", "The Jungle Book (2016)", and produced "The Avengers (2012)."
  • J. J. Abrams, American born director, helmed the rebooted "Star Trek" series and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens".


  • Wolf Blitzer, German-born CNN Anchor
  • David Brooks — columnist, The New York Times
  • Abraham Cahan — Lithuanian born Socialist and journalist, founder and editor of The Forward
  • Thomas Friedman Pulitzer Prize winning author and "Foreign Affairs" columnist for The New York Times.
  • Frances Lewine CNN producer who paved the way for women to have equal access to jobs in the news media
  • Daniel Pearl, American journalist of Iraqi Jewish descent, beheaded by Pakistani militant group
  • Gloria Steinem, feminist editor and writer, founder of Ms. magazine
  • Barbara Walters, American broadcast journalist, author, and television personality of Polish Jewish descent
  • Matias (Motya) STOLIAR, an Argentinian Jewish journalist and editor in Yiddish.In 1914 he established first Jewish Newspaper in Argentina - Di Yiddishe Zeitung.


  • Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City
  • Louis Brandeis, American politician of Austian-Jewish descent, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
  • Harold Brown American scientist, was U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1977 to 1981 in the cabinet of President Jimmy Carter.
  • Eric Cantor U.S. Representative for Virginia's 7th congressional district, serving since 2001. Member of the Republican Party, and House Majority Leader.
  • Benjamin N. Cardozo, American politician of Sephardic Jewish descent, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
  • Felix Frankfurter, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
  • Betty Friedan, writer, activist, and feminist, author of The Feminine Mystique and co-founder and first president of the National Organization for Women
  • Henry Kissinger, German-born American political scientist, diplomat, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, 56th United States Secretary of State and 8th US National Security Advisor
  • Fiorello LaGuardia, Mayor of New York for three terms
  • Joe Lieberman , American politician Polish-Austrian Jewish descent, former United States Senator from Connecticut
  • Robert Reich, 22nd US Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton
  • Simpson (Simon) Thorman, first Jew to live in Cleveland and was a member of the City Council.


  • Hans Bethe, German-American nuclear physicist, and Nobel laureate in physics. Winner of the 1967 Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Konrad Bloch, The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1964
  • Rabbi Eugene Borowitz, leading scholar and philosopher in Reform Judaism
  • Noam Chomsky, linguist and political philosopher (atheist)
  • Richard Courant, mathematician
  • Albert Einstein, German born scientist
  • Richard Feynman, American physicist of Polish Jewish descent, best known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics
  • James Franck, German physicist and Nobel laureate. Winner of the 1925 Nobel Prize in Physics
  • William F. Friedman, US Army cryptographer during WWII
  • Erich Fromm, German-born American social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, and humanistic philosopher of German Jewish descent
  • Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, War hero
  • Samuel Goudsmit, Dutch-born American physicist famous for jointly proposing the concept of electron spin
  • Alan Greenspan, economist, 13th Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and 10th Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors
  • Roald Hoffmann, American theoretical chemist of Ukrainian Jewish descent, Nobel Prize winner
  • Max K. Horwitt, American-born of Belorussian Jewish descent, biochemist internationally recognized for work in human nutrition
  • Walter Kohn, Austrian-born American theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1998
  • Albert Abraham Michelson, Prussian-born, winner of the 1907 Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Marvin Minsky, American cognitive scientist in the field of artificial intelligence of Jewish descent
  • John von Neumann, computer scientist, mathematician & economist
  • J. Robert Oppenheimer, American theoretical physicist and father of the atomic bomb
  • Abraham, Pais, Dutch-born American physicist and science historian
  • Wolfgang E. Pauli, Austrian theoretical physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1945
  • Nouriel Roubini, Turkish-born Persian American macroeconomist; professor of economics at New York University's Stern School of Business
  • Carl Sagan, American-born of Ukrainian Jewish descent, American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences.
  • Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Lubavitcher Rebbe
  • Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern, the Father of Modern Jewish Genealogy
  • André Weil, mathematician known for number theory and algebraic geometry.
  • Norbert Wiener, American mathematician of Polish-German Jewish descent
  • Eugene Paul Wigner (born Jenő Pál Wigner), Hungarian-born American Jewish theoretical physicist, mathematician and Co-winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Edward Witten, M-theory, Fields Medal (1990) *
  • Rabbi Eugene Bernard Borowitz American leader and philosopher in Reform Judaism, known largely for his work on Jewish theology and Jewish ethics.*


  • Norman Kingsley Mailer an American novelist, essayist, poet, author, screen director and film director. Awarded Pulitzer Prize twice, National Book Award once.
  • Saul Bellow, Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts
  • Barthold Fles, Dutch-American literary agent, author, translator, editor and publisher.
  • Jacob Gordin, Russian-born American playwright, called "The Jewish Shakespeare"
  • MacKinlay Kantor, an American journalist, novelist and screenwriter descended from a long line of rabbis
  • Bernard Lewis "the most influential postwar historian of Islam and the Middle East."
  • Arthur Miller, American playwright and essayist, works include The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, All My Sons, and Death of a Salesman.
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978
  • Art Spiegelman American comics artist, editor, and advocate for the medium of comics, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning comic book memoir, Maus.
  • Elie Wiesel, writer, professor, political activist, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize, 1986
  • Herman Wouk, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance

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