With only fourteen million Jews in the world, the Jewish people have a high success rate for making incalculable contributions to our world. There’s Albert Einstein and his Theory of Relativity (among other things), Karl Marx - the father of Communism, and Jonas Salk – the developer of the first polio vaccine. We have Anne Frank – whose diary from the Holocaust has been read by many and Golda Mier – known as the mother of modern Israel and the only woman Prime Minister.
And what about Jewish media personalities watched worldwide? Wolf Blitzer from CNN began his journalism career in Tel Aviv, Israel in the 1970’s. Barbara Walters, while raised without religion, was born into a Jewish family. There’s also Harrison Ford, Sandra Bullock, Michael Douglas, Goldie Hawn and Dustin Hoffman – all actors with Jewish heritage.
Then there are those whose contributions have made an immeasurable impact on the world, even if they are not well known. You may not recognize their names, but you will recognize the gifts they gave to us.
Take Benjamin Rubin, for example. Rubin ground the eyelet of a sewing machine needle into a fork shape, which created the ability to administer vaccination shots. His needle helped eradicate small pox. It was the first time in history a deadly disease was eliminated by mankind.
How about Gertrude Elion? Have you heard of this Nobel Prize winner? Inspired by her grandfather who died from cancer, Elion decided to study chemistry. She became a biochemist and a pharmacologist and helped develop many new drugs, including the first treatment for leukemia.
Aaron Beck, born 1921 in Rhode Island, is the father of Cognitive Therapy. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Beck Depression Inventory. The development of his theory for psychology came from personal experience. Beck contracted a near-fatal illness due to an infection from a broken arm, and he worked through his fears and pain using rational thought – the basis for his psychological theory.
Charles Adler was born in 1899 in Baltimore. He was an engineer and inventor who worked for the Railroad developing safety and signal devices. Adler invented the first railroad-crossing signal. He also invented the first traffic signal, which was activated by the sound of a car’s horn.
Rosalyn Yalow, born in New York in 1921, won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1977. She is a physicist and received the Nobel Prize for the development of RIA (radioimmunoassay) for insulin. Her discovery allowed doctors to make diagnoses based on minute changes in hormone levels. And, RIA allowed endocrinology to become one of the strongest fields in medical research.
Charles Ginsburg was born in 1920 in San Francisco. He made it possible for sports fans to view instant replays and for TV shows to be recorded prior to airing. He invented video magnetic tape recording, or the cassette player. In 1990, Ginsberg was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
And, certainly, in an exploration of contributions to the world by Jewish people, we cannot overlook Baskin Robbins (Irv Robbins) or Dunkin Donuts (Bill Rosenberg). Robbins co-founded Baskin Robbins Ice Cream in 1945 with his brother-in-law. He sold ice cream because people who came into his store were happy. When business became big, they sold stores to their managers – and became a franchise before franchises were around. Bill Rosenberg was born in 1916 and founded Dunkin’ Donuts in 1950. Dunkin’ Donuts grew to 1800 shops before it was sold in 1989. Rosenberg was also the founder of the International Franchise Association.
Even within the last fifteen years, we have the introduction of Google, Inc. by Sergey Brin and Larry Page. They developed Google as a research product while still in school at Stanford and incorporated it in 1998. Brin was born in Russia in 1973. Page, also born in 1973, was raised without religion though he is the son of a Jewish mother.
If you find this information as fascinating as I do, you can go to Google to conduct a search of your own. There are many more Jewish inventors, investors, great thinkers and celebrity personalities to discover. Almost as interesting as their contributions are the stories behind the individuals.