See our pride: Forward honors five young Jews from Bay Area

It’s not the Fortune 500 or the Forbes 400. It’s much better. Rather than measuring mere dollars, the Forward 50 tracks the cultural and societal net worth of noteworthy Jewish Americans.

The annual list from the Jewish Daily Forward honors the 50 Jews whom the editors believe were the biggest change-makers over the past year, not only within the Jewish community but in the broader national and international arenas, as well.

The list includes celebrated figures such as Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Milwaukee Brewer slugger Ryan Braun and actress Natalie Portman. It also includes several Bay Area notables: San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas, author Adam Mansbach, Berkeley scientist Jaron Lanier and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

We offer a hearty mazel tov to them all.

Forward editors made a point of apologizing for one glaring problem: Only 16 women made it into their top 50. In an age when women have made strides across all strata of society, it seems impossible that they would make up only one-third of the honorees. The Forward needs to review its methodology to make sure more deserving women make their list next year.

Perhaps more exciting than the Forward 50 is a second Forward list acknowledging “Ten Young Jews, Making a Difference.” The Bay Area scored a whopping 50 percent domination of that list, with five of the honorees, all under age 21, hailing from this region.

Among them are Nittai Malchin of Palo Alto, who started a nonprofit to aid Haitian earthquake victims; fellow Palo Altan Tatiana Grossman, whose nonprofit helps supply poor African children with books; Erin Schrode, an eco-activist from Ross in Marin County; Rachel Levenson of Mountain View, a budding expert in micro-lending; and Alyssa Breetwor, also of Mountain View, the founder of a nonprofit that aids at-risk teens.

These young people are heroes. Their inclusion says much about the future of the Jewish community here and beyond. It points to a true commitment to social action this community instills in its children. With this list, we have already begun seeing a payoff.

Lists like these are fine. It’s good to give the worthy a pat on the back. Yet for every one of those who made the lists, there are countless others in the Jewish community doing good work, day in and day out, to fashion a better world.

We salute all the winners, both those on the Forward lists, and those who aren’t.