List of Jewish American activists

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This is a list of notable Jewish American activists and polemicists

For other notable Jewish Americans, see List of Jewish Americans.


AIDS activists

  • Elizabeth Glaser, founder of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
  • Larry Kramer, co-founder of GMHC

Anti-corporate activists

  • Judi Bari, environmentalist (Jewish mother)
  • Gypsy Boots|Robert "Gypsy Boots" Bootzin, Health food and fitness guru
  • Laurie David, environmental activist
  • Rob Reiner, actor, director, producer, writer and anti-tobacco activist; son of Carl Reiner[1]
  • Henry Spira, animal rights activist


  • Kivie Kaplan, head of the NAACP
  • Winona LaDuke, Native American activist & environmentalist (Jewish mother)
  • Stanley Levison, Communist Party USA member, advisor to Martin Luther King
  • Abel Meeropol, composer of anti-lynching song Strange Fruit
  • Michael Schwerner & Andrew Goodman, Congress of Racial Equality|CORE activists, KKK victims
  • Joel Spingarn|Joel & Arthur Spingarn, early NAACP leaders
  • Tim Wise, anti-racism activist


  • Leslie Cagan, founder of United for Peace and Justice|UPJ
  • Daniel Ellsberg, leaked the Pentagon Papers
  • Allen Ginsberg, poet and Pentagon-levitator
  • Allard K. Lowenstein, politician and anti-Vietnam war leader
  • Bernard Lown, co-founder of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War|IPPNW, Nobel Peace Prize (1985)
  • Murray N. Rothbard, writer


  • Elmer Berger (rabbi)|Elmer Berger, Reform rabbi, deceased
  • Noam Chomsky, linguist, historian and author
  • Norman Finkelstein, defunct former Professor, (denied most recent tenure at DePaul University)
  • Fred Newman, founder of International Workers Party
  • Adam Shapiro, member of International Solidarity Movement
  • Anna Baltzer, author and public speaker.

Civil liberties

  • Felix Frankfurter, Supreme Court Justice, helped found the ACLU
  • Nadine Strossen, head of ACLU (father half Jewish holocaust survivor)

Tax Relief and Small Government

  • Les “Cut the Taxes” Golden, writer, actor, musician, founding board member Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation, spokesman Yes for Illinois, candidate

Conservatives and neoconservatives

  • Midge Decter, writer
  • David Horowitz (conservative writer)|David Horowitz, writer, activist, commentator
  • Irving Kristol, founder of American Neoconservatism.
  • William Kristol, editor, writer
  • Rabbi Daniel Lapin, founder of Toward Tradition
  • Jay Lovestone, AFL-CIO cold warrior; earlier, chairman of Communist Party USA ousted on orders from Stalin
  • John Podhoretz, writer and commentator
  • Norman Podhoretz, writer


  • Abbie Hoffman, co-founder of the Youth International Party|Yippie
  • Ed Rosenthal, cannabis activist
  • Jerry Rubin, co-founder of the Youth International Party|Yippie
  • A.J. Weberman, Yippie activist, author

Electronic rights activists

  • Mitch Kapor, co-founder of Electronic Frontier Foundation|EFF
  • Bruce Perens, open source advocate, co-founder of Software in the Public Interest|SPI
  • Richard Stallman, founder of Free Software Foundation
  • Jonathan Tasini, National Writers Union leader, fighter for electronic rights for authors

Feminism and gay rights

  • Bella Abzug, feminist politician, deceased
  • Gloria Allred (1941–) lawyer and radio talk show host[2]
  • Bettina Aptheker (1944–) lesbian activist, author, and educator[3]
  • Andrea Dworkin, feminist writer
  • Susan Faludi, feminist writer
  • Leslie Feinberg, transgender activist & author
  • Clara Fraser, founder of Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party [4]
  • Betty Friedan, co-founder & first president of National Organization for Women|NOW
  • Franklin E. Kameny, gay rights leader[5]
  • Harvey Milk, murdered gay rights activist and openly gay politician
  • Robin Morgan, editor of Ms. Magazine
  • Ernestine Rose, feminist
  • Gloria Steinem, founder of Ms. Magazine (Jewish father)
  • Rebecca Walker (1969–) feminist writer[6]
  • Naomi Wolf, feminist writer
  • Evan Wolfson, gay marriage activist


  • Maurice Davis (Rabbi)|Maurice Davis, Rabbi, testified to joint-Congressional panel in 1976
  • Steven Hassan, exit counselor author, Combatting Cult Mind Control
  • Rick Ross (consultant)|Rick Ross, consultant on cults

Gun rights advocacy

  • Sandra Froman — President of the National Rifle Association (NRA), second female president and first Jewish president[7]

Anti-Semitic Hate groups

  • Daniel Burros, American Nazi Party and KKK activist (committed suicide in 1965 when his background was revealed)
  • Adam Yahiye Gadahn, Al Qaeda member, federal fugitive (son of musician Phil Pearlman, who converted from Judaism to Christianity)
  • Harold von Braunhut, wealthy Aryan Nation and KKK supporter, deceased (born Jewish according to Washington Post)

Immigration reform

  • Kinky Friedman, country singer, 2006 candidate for Governor of Texas

Leaders of Jewish communal organizations

  • Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe
  • Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League

Liberal and leftwing activists (miscellaneous)

  • Michael Albert, co-founder of Z Magazine
  • Saul Alinsky, community organizer
  • Ben Cohen (ice cream)|Ben Cohen, founder of TrueMajority
  • Jeff Cohen (media critic)|Jeff Cohen, founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting|FAIR
  • John Garfield, blacklisted actor, left-liberal activist
  • William Kunstler, civil rights lawyer
  • Al Lewis (actor)|Al Lewis, actor, Green Party candidate, anti-prison and anti-drug war activist
  • Eli Pariser, campaigns director of
  • George Soros, founder of Open Society Institute|OSI
  • Barbra Streisand, entertainer, liberal activist and fundraiser

Jewish Defense

  • Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League, deceased
  • Mordechai Levy, founder and chairman of the Jewish Defense Organization,
  • David Marcus ("Mickey" Marcus), U.S. Army Colonel, hero of Israeli War of Independence
  • Avi Weiss, Orthodox rabbi, leader of Free Soviet Jewry movement

Nazi hunters and Holocaust educators

  • Marvin Hier, Orthodox rabbi, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
  • Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Department of Justice's Office of Special Investigations since 1995; Nazi hunter since early 1980s


  • Nat Hentoff, author and columnist

Rights of Ethiopian Jews

  • Graenum Berger, founder of American Association for Ethiopian Jews

Socialists, anarchists and communists (historical)

  • Alexander Berkman, anarchist leader
  • Daniel De Leon, revolutionary socialist leader
  • Emma Goldman, anarchist leader
  • Murray N. Rothbard, anarchist leader
  • Charles Ruthenberg, early leader of the Communist Party USA
  • Max Shachtman, democratic socialist leader and theorist

Trade union leaders

  • David Dubinsky, labor leader
  • Samuel Gompers, labor leader
  • Sidney Hillman, labor leader
  • Jackie Presser, Teamster leader, racketeer

Weather Underground and its offshoots

  • Kathy Boudin, Weather Underground member, leader, and convicted terrorist
  • David Gilbert (activist)|David Gilbert, Weather Underground member, leader, and convicted terrorist
  • Terry Robbins, Weather Underground member and bomb maker (died in explosion of his own bomb)
  • Bernardine Dohrn, Weather Underground, member, and leader of Days of Rage
  • Mark Rudd, Students for a Democratic Society leader during 1968 Columbia University strike; later a Weather Underground member and leader
  • Naomi Jaffe, Weather Underground, member and leader
  • Laura Whitehorn, Weather Underground, member and leader

See also


  1. ^ R. Reiner[1] "Reiner, however, said Gibson also must do some "major soul-searching." "It’s not a matter of just apologizing for some words you’ve said," said Reiner, who is Jewish. "It’s to really understand why it is you’re anti-Semitic and where those feelings came from.""
  2. ^ Template:Cite news
  3. ^ "other Jewish authors who may be of interest... Bettina Aptheker"
  4. ^ Template:Dead link
  5. ^ Template:Citation/core
  6. ^ Template:Cite news
  7. ^ Template:Cite journal