Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame 2022
“BJHI was created to tell the extraordinary story of the Jewish community of Brooklyn, so the world would know’ said Howard Teich, BJHI Founder and Co-chair, “and the BJHI Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame will recognize the leading Brooklynites who have truly made a difference in the world, and there are many.”
“We wanted to be sure that the first class had a representative balance,” said Sarina Roffé, BJHI Co-chair. “So we have someone from the Russian community, the Syrian community, etc., as well as business leaders, social activists and entertainers.”
BJHI BROOKLYN JEWISH HALL OF FAME
CLASS OF 2022*
*As we move past the COVID era, BJHI’s in-person BJHI Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame in-person ceremonies will resume in Fall, 2023.
The Class of 2022 is a special Class in which we inducted living legends of Brooklyn who have been nominated, who do not reside in NYC now, and clearly the Hall of Fame would not be complete without them: Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, Elliot Gould, Janet Yellen, Mel Brooks, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Neil Diamond, Larry King, Larry David and Sandy Kofax. And so we honor them for their life accomplishments. You will note that included is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had been invited pre-COVID during her life and could not schedule it that year, and has passed since then, and so we include her.
Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative inducts Barbra Streisand into the 2022 Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame
as one of the most celebrated of all Brooklynites during our lifetime. Her contributions to theater, acting and singing come from the chutzpah she learned growing up in Brooklyn. She is one of the rare entertainers who earned an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award.
Born on April 24, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York, Barbra Streisand is the daughter of Diana Ida (née Rosen; 1908–2002)and Emanuel Streisand.
Streisand began her education at the Jewish Orthodox Yeshiva of Brooklyn when she was five. She attended Public School 89 in the Cypress Hills neighborhood in Brooklyn and began watching television and going to movies. She attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn in 1956 where she became an honor student in modern history, English, and Spanish. And as WIKIPEDIA says, "I always wanted to be somebody, to be famous ...You know, get out of Brooklyn"
At 16, she was living on her own and took various menial jobs to have some income. During one period, she lacked a permanent address and found herself sleeping at the home of friends or anywhere else she could set up the army cot she carried around.
When desperate, she returned to her mother's flat in Brooklyn for a home-cooked meal. However, her mother was horrified by her daughter's "gypsy-like lifestyle," wrote biographer Karen Swenson, and again begged her to give up trying to get into show business. Streisand took her mother's pleadings as even more reason to keep trying. "My desires were strengthened by wanting to prove to my mother that I could be a star,” she said. (The Films of Barbra Streisand, Citadel Press, 2000)
Streisand accepted her first role on the New York stage in Another Evening with Harry Stoones, a satirical comedy play in which she acted and sang two solos. The show received terrible reviews and closed the next day. Streisand's first television appearance was on The Tonight Show, with host Jack Paar. That night in April 1961, the episode was hosted by Orson Bean who substituted for Paar. She sang Harold Arlen's "A Sleepin' Bee." During her appearance, Phyllis Diller, also a guest on the show, called her "one of the great singing talents in the world."
When she was 21, Streisand signed a contract with Columbia Records that gave her full creative control, in exchange for less money.
Nearly three decades later, Streisand said “The most important thing about that first contract – actually, the thing we held out for – was a unique clause giving me the right to choose my own material. It was the only thing I really cared about. I still received lots of pressure from the label to include some pop hits on my first album, but I held out for the songs that really meant something to me.” (Barbra Streisand. Just for the Record... Columbia C4K 44111, 1991). Streisand has recorded 50 studio albums, almost all with Columbia Records. Her early works in the 1960s (her debut The Barbra Streisand Album, The Second Barbra Streisand Album, The Third Album, My Name Is Barbra, etc.) are considered classic renditions of theatre and cabaret standards, including her pensive version of the normally up tempo "Happy Days Are Here Again". She performed this in a duet with Judy Garland on The Judy Garland Show. Garland referred to her on the air as one of the last great belters. They also sang "There's No Business Like Show Business" with Ethel Merman joining them.
Streisand won an Oscar for Best Original Song for "Evergreen," which made her the first woman to earn an Academy Award for composing music.
We celebrate her movie roles: Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly, Katei Morosky in The Way We Were, Esther Hoffman in A Star is Born, Hillary Kramer in The Main Event, Yentl, Mendl and Ascher Mendl in Yentl. She won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actress for the role in Funny Girl.
Streisand was nominated 43 times for a Grammy Award, winning eight. In addition, she has received two special non-competitive awards; the 1992 Grammy Legend Award and the 1994 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame four times. In 2011, she was honored as MusiCares Person of the Year by the Grammy Foundation for her artistic achievement in the music industry. She also won five Emmys, four Peabody Awards, nine golden Globes and the Presidential medal of Freedom.
Barbra Streisand is getting the next ‘Jewish Nobel,’ in prize’s return to celebrity tradition. The iconic actor and singer is getting the Genesis Prize, which has been awarded since 2013, in recognition of her contributions to a number of fields, including the arts and philanthropy. The prize’s goal is to stimulate Jewish giving by raising awareness of particular needs.
She was married to actor/comedian Elliot Gould from 1963-1971 and is currently married to actor James Brolin.
BJHI is proud to call her one of our own.
Barry Manilow BJHI is proud in induct Manilow into its Class of 2022 Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame. With a voice like the loveliest songbird, Barry Manilow is a singer whose music fills hearts. Born as Barry Alan Pincus in Brooklyn, New York, on June 17, 1943, his grandfather saw that he had musical talent from the time he was a small child. Manilow’s grandfather took him each week to Manhattan where he could record his voice for 25 cents. Manilow credits his grandfather with helping him understand his musical gift. Born and raised in Williamsburg, his mother was Jewish, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. He had one grandmother who was Irish Catholic. A few weeks before his bar mitzvah, his surname was changed to Manilow. He always felt he was a misfit, until he was introduced to band instruments at Eastern District High School. He attended City College, New York College of Music and studied theater at Julliard. A son of Brooklyn, his hit recordings include "Could It Be Magic", "Looks Like We Made It", "Mandy", "I Write the Songs", "Can't Smile Without You", and "Copacabana (At the Copa)". He has recorded and released 51 Top 40 singles; 13 of which hit number one and 28 that appeared within the top ten. At his June 4, 2023, concert in Radio City Music Hall, Manilow spoke of the need to support the arts and music in schools. He started the Manilow Music Project, which provides instruments to underfunded schools to provide quality music education and encourages disadvantaged students to pursue their musical careers. In addition, the Manilow Music Project selects teachers to receive Music Teacher Awards for their programs. Each borough in New York had a music teacher selected in June 2023 and received grants for themselves and their schools.
Elliott Gould was born Elliott Goldstein on August 29, 1938 in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to Lucille (Raver), who sold artificial flowers, and Bernard Goldstein, a textiles buyer in the garment industry. His family were Jewish immigrants (from Romania, Belarus, and Russia). His mother, Lucille, changed his last name without telling him. She also nudged him into show business. At eight or nine, his parents enrolled their shy, withdrawn kid in a song-and-dance school. He graduated from the Professional Children’s School, a non profit prep school for aspiring child actors and dancers. In 1962, at 23, he earned the lead in a Broadway musical, "I Can Get It For You Wholesale." His secretary on the show was 19-year-old Barbra Streisand, who he was married to from 1963-1971. Gould's breakthrough role was in the film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, the British Academy Film Award nomination for Best Actor, and the New York Film Critics Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The following year, he starred as Capt. Trapper John in the Robert Altman film M*A*S*H (1970), for which he received British Academy Film Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor. The role got him on the cover of Time Magazine in 1970. Elliott Gould was never a typical Hollywood star. For 70 years, Gould has played roles from The Long Goodbye to the four Ocean movies and as Jack Geller on the long running TV sitcom Friends. His characters are unconventional and distinctive. Six times he played himself, hosting "Saturday Night Live," a return home to his New York roots. In 1991, he won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Bugsy by the National Society of Film Critics. Elliot Gould is a Brooklynite worthy of being in the BJHI Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame for 2022.
A baby Boomer, Janet Yellen is the child of Polish Jewish immigrants who was raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Born on August 13, 1946, her mother was a teacher and her father was a doctor with an office in their home.
She graduated as valedictorian from Fort Hamilton High School in 1962, summa sum laude and Phi Betta Kappa from Brown University in 1967 with a degree in economics. She earned a masters and PhD from Yale in 1971,the only woman to do so.
In 1977–78 she worked as an economist for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and in 1978–80 she served as a lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 1980 Yellen joined the faculty of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, where she conducted research and taught macroeconomics at all levels, receiving numerous teaching awards. She was appointed Bernard T. Rocca, Jr. Professor of International Business and Trade in 1992 and Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business Administration and Professor of Economics in 1999. She subsequently became professor emeritus at the Haas School of Business.
In 1994 Yellen took a leave of absence from Berkeley to serve as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, a post she held until 1997. She then left the Fed to become head of Pres. Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers until 1999. She concurrently chaired the Economic Policy Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
She was appointed vice chair of the Board of Governors of the Fed in 2010. Under Pres. Barack Obama, she was head of the Federal Reserve System from 2014- 2018 and oversaw a program to sell Treasury and mortgage bonds that the Fed had purchased to stimulate the economy. Her tenure was also noted for job and wage growth, both of which occurred while she maintained low interest rates.
With a successful career in economics, she became the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury in 2021.
BJHI is proud to include Janet Yellen in the Class of 2022 Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame.
Mel Brooks is an actor, comedian, and filmmaker born as Melvin Kaminsky in Brooklyn, New York on June 28, 1926. He grew up in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. He attended the Eastern District High School. During his senior high school year in 1944, he was ordered to take the Army General Classification Test. After his high score, Mel was sent to the Virginia Military Institute for the Army Specialized Training Program where he would later be drafted into the United States Army. Mel Brooks is the only Jew to make a living out of Hitler by his own admission, An undersized target for local bullies, he warded them off with jokes. “If they are laughing,” he discovered, “they won’t bludgeon you to death.” That fear of death made his comic pump throughout his adventurous career from the humble streets of Williamsburg, to the small hotels in the Catskills as toomler, the European theater during World War II, his one day at Brooklyn College, writing for his idol, mentor-tormentor Sid Caesar, and trek through Hollywood and Broadway with cult productions like The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, History of the World: Part One. A true Renaissance man, Brooks has achieved excellence as a writer, actor, comedian, director. composer. and like Max Bialystok, producer—all laced with Jewish humor as both a defense mechanism and weapon for cultural affirmation. A mid-career lull was broken in 1959 by a brilliant tete a tete interview series with Carl Reiner as straight man, featuring the 2000-year-old man. Feted with many awards including the Presidential Medal, which he accepted from President Obama in 2009 rather than President Bush, number two earlier. Although denied a Red Buttons’ dinner and a Friars’ Roast, Mel Brooks adds another laurel to his rich resume with induction into the BJHI Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame, Class of 2022. So, who in the Gershwin groove, could ask for anything more? Mel Brooks of course. To extend life beyond his current age in pursuit of George Burns, he will chew on a clove of garlic each night. And when the Molech Hamoves (Angel of Death} knocks, Mel will open the door, exhale, and ask: “Who’s there??? Thus, Mel Brooks will survive to complete his next project, History of the World Part II. Abee gezundt!
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.
This famous quote by Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the essence of who she was and what she stood for as an accomplished Jewish woman from Brooklyn.
Born in Brooklyn on March 15, 1933, Ruth Bader Ginsburg served as an Associate Justice for the United States Supreme Court. She was the first Jewish woman to hold such a position. She was also the oldest justice to serve on the court and the longest serving Jewish justice.
Ruth Bader was raised in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush. Ruth and her family often visited the East Midwood Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue where she learned Hebrew. She attended James Madison High School, graduating at the young age of 15. She got her BA from Cornell University and attended both Columbia and Harvard Law Schools.
Ginsburg’s career was more difficult because of stereotypes about the role of women during her career. Ginsburg was a non-observant Jew, associating this choice with gender inequality in Jewish prayer ritual.
She released "The Heroic and Visionary Women of Passover" with Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, published by the American Jewish World Service, an essay that highlighted the roles of five women’s impact in the Passover storyline. She co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter in 1970, the first American law journal to focus on women’s rights and the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1972.
Bader Ginsburg was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Following a Supreme Court landmark decision, an internet joke flowed around, nicknaming Ginsburg “The Notorious R.B.G’. Today, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is known as an important woman in history who inspired other women to break gender barriers and as the first Jewish woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
RBG was the subject of two movies – “On the Basis of Sex” and “RBG.” While on the Supreme Court, she always wore lace collars on her robes to emphasize the overdue feminine energy she brought to the court and add meaning into her dress — a sartorial strategy practiced by powerful women throughout history.
BJHI is very proud that this Jewish daughter of Brooklyn, accomplished so much during her lifetime and inducts her into the Class of 2022 Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame.
Neil Leslie Diamond (born January 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter. He has sold more than 130 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. He has had ten No. 1 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts: "Cracklin' Rosie", "Song Sung Blue", "Longfellow Serenade", "I've Been This Way Before", "If You Know What I Mean", "Desirée", "You Don't Bring Me Flowers", "America", "Yesterday's Songs", and "Heartlight". Thirty-eight songs by Diamond have reached the top 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts, including "Sweet Caroline". He has also acted in films, making his screen debut in the 1980 musical drama film The Jazz Singer.
Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, and he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. In 2011, he was an honoree at the Kennedy Center Honors, and he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.
Diamond was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a Jewish family. All four of his grandparents were immigrants, from Poland on his father's side and Russia on his mother's. his parents had a store in Brighton Beach. In Brooklyn, he attended Erasmus Hall High School and was a member of the Freshman Chorus and Choral Club before eventually graduating from Abraham Lincoln HS.
Diamond’s interest in music began at age 16, when he obtained his first guitar. After graduating from high school, Diamond attended New York University with the intention of entering medical school. However, he left college during his final year to take a job as a staff songwriter for the Sunbeam Music Company. His tenure at Sunbeam was short, and he became one of a stable of songwriters who worked out of New York’s famed Brill Building.
Larry King, original name Lawrence Harvey Zeiger, (born November 19, 1933, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.—died January 23, 2021, Los Angeles, California), American talk-show host whose easygoing interviewing style helped make Larry King Live (1985–2010) one of CNN’s longest-running and most popular programs.
King was born in Brooklyn on November 19, 1933 and the son of Orthodox Jewish Russian Immigrants. He attended Lafayette High School. He grew up on the streets of Bensonhurst, where he played ball at the Jewish Community House.
When King was nine years old, his father died of a heart attack. This resulted in King, his mother, and brother going on government welfare. King was greatly affected by his father's death, and subsequently lost interest in his schoolwork. After graduating from high school, King worked to help support his mother. From an early age, he wanted to work in radio broadcasting.
Ironically, it was by imitating others that a young Larry King nurtured his broadcasting dreams. As a child he would pretend to be Red Barber, the famous Dodger’s announcer. Friends recall that at ball games, when Larry was only 10 years old, he would go to the back of the stands, roll up his score card and pretend it was a mike and that he was a sportscaster. While most of the young boys fantasized about being ball players, King aspired to be the announcer. “When I was 5 years old, I would lie in bed, look at the radio, and want to be on the radio,” King was quoted as saying. “I don’t know why I was magically attuned to it.”
In his early twenties King left New York for Florida in the hopes of breaking into radio. He worked as a disc jockey in South Florida, honing his conversational interview style doing on-location interviews with random citizens. In 1960 he broke into television with a Miami-based talk show. King also wrote for a number of Miami newspapers during that period.
From 1978 to 1994 King hosted the popular national radio talk show The Larry King Show, and from 1985 he hosted the television talk show Larry King Live on CNN, then a young network. The program was television’s first live phone-in show with an international audience. It became known not only for King’s off-the-cuff interview style (he prided himself on doing very little research on his guests) but for its popularity as a platform for political candidates.
King also has a funny side that not many people know about. He loves making people laugh. “It’s such a kick to stand up in front of a crowd and make people laugh,” he says. “It’s like having a massive group of people saying I love you.” He also thinks he’s found the key to longevity, explaining that all the comics he has known have lived very long lives.
According to CNN, where King went to work in 1985, King conducted more than 30,000 interviews in his career. King also wrote a regular newspaper column in USA Today for almost 20 years
King was married eight times, to seven women. His first wife was high-school sweetheart Freda Miller who he married in 1952 at 19.
Brooklyn-born Larry David is inducted into the Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame for his work in comedy, and as an actor, writer and producer. A graduate of Sheepshead Bay High School, and University of Maryland at College Park where he earned a BA in history. During the Vietnam draft era, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve for five years where he won the National Defense Service Medal.
Larry David is most known for his work as the creator of the TV sitcom Seinfeld. The show won two primetime Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Comedy Series. He has appeared on SNL impersonating Bernie Sanders and the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Larry worked as a stand-up comic, but supported himself as a store clerk, limousine driver, and historian, while living in subsidized housing in Hell’s Kitchen. He became a writer for SNL in 1984, where he met Julia Louis -Dreyfus, one of the actresses on Seinfeld. On Seinfeld he played the voice of former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner
Larry David has appeared in a myriad of televisions shows both as himself or in character and is a frequent blogger and opinion writer.
BJHI is proud to induct Sandy Koufax into the 2022 Hall of Fame. He had deep respect for his faith and was very proud of his Jewish heritage. So much so that Koufax refused to play ball on Yom Kippur in 1965 and other Jewish holidays. He an icon for the Jewish people and his actions were significant for the Jewish community. Koufax was teammates with Jackie Robinson during his first two seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Sandy Koufax, the Brooklyn-born Jewish baseball player, was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. He played for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers and was All Star in his last six seasons, as well as MVP in 1963. Koufax was the first major league pitcher to throw four no-hitters and, in 1965, became the sixth pitcher and the first left-hander in the modern era (post-1900) to pitch a perfect game.
Born Sanford Braun in 1935, Koufax was raised in Bensonhurst. In 1951, at the age of 15, Koufax also joined a local youth baseball league known as the "Ice Cream League", playing for the Tomahawks. He started out as a left-handed catcher before moving to first base.
He attended Lafayette High School where he was better known for his basketball skill. He played on the Jewish Community House team. Koufax joined Lafayette's baseball team as a first baseman in his senior year at the urging of his friend Fred Wilpon. While playing with the high school team, he was spotted by Milt Laurie, a newspaper deliveryman and a baseball coach who was the father of two Lafayette baseball players. Laurie noticed Koufax's strong throwing arm and recognized that he might be able to pitch. He recruited the 17-year-old to pitch for the Coney Island Sports League's “Parkviews.” Koufax attended University of Cincinnati to study architecture and won a partial scholarship for playing basketball.
In 2010, he was one of the two main subjects of the film Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story, alongside Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers. He retired at age 30 due to arthritis in his pitching elbow. He was the youngest player to be inducted into the Baseball hall of Fame.
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Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative (BJHI, Inc) is a 501c3 organization incorporated in New York State and located at 3603 Quentin Road, Brooklyn, NY 11234