Hall of Fame
HIAS is proud to count among our former clients some of our country's most prominent politicians and intellectuals, writers and artists, activists and war heroes.
Philosopher & political theorist
An influential philosopher and political theorist, Arendt made her name with her coverage of the Eichmann trials for the New Yorker, as well as with her major work The Origins of Totalitarianism, in which she developed the concept of “radical evil.” (1906-1975)
Accused of blood libel
In 1911, Beilis was accused of the ritual murder of a Christian boy in a small Russian town. With all of the anti-Semitism of the Russia of those times against him, his lawyers fought for two years to prove his innocence. A kind of Russian “Dreyfus Affair,” diplomatic pressures eventually forced the government to drop all charges. (unknown-1934)
New York Times reporter & acclaimed author
Berger came to the US at the age of five, the son of Polish Holocaust survivors who fled to Russia after World War II. He made his name as a skilled New York City reporter, working at Newsday, the New York Post, and the New York Times. He currently is the Times’ metropolitan reporter and chief of the Westchester bureau. One of Berger’s latest accomplishments is his recent, critically acclaimed memoir, Displaced Persons: Growing Up American After the Holocaust.
Soviet Union, 1979
Co-founder of Google
Arriving in this country with his family at the age of 6, this co-founder of Google grew up to change the way we gather and process information. While studying at Stanford, he met Larry Page: together they brought Google to life in September 1998. In October 2009, the New York Times wrote: “Were it not for HIAS, there might be no Google.”
World-renowned poet and winner of the Nobel Prize
Author of A Part of Speech and Less than One, Brodsky was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987, “for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity.” In 1992, he served as Poet Laureate of the United States. (1940-1996)
Innovative twentieth century painter
Chagall was one of the most innovative and important painters of the twentieth century. His dreamy landscapes show Russian-Jewish villages, blending his own personal iconography – influenced by the Impressionist and Fauvist art movements – with that vanished culture. (1887-1985)
Modern day man-of-letters and NPR correspondent
Codrescu is a modern-day man of letters. A poet, essayist, novelist, memoirist, social critic, and humorist, he has published over 25 books and is a frequent National Public Radio commentator. He teaches English Literature at Louisiana State University.
Hans A. Einstein
Son of Albert Einstein
Einstein—son of the famous theorist of relativity—was also a well-known and respected scientist. After immigrating to the US, he served for many years as Professor of Hydraulic Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. (1904-1973)
Abraham H. Foxman
National Director of the Anti-Defamation League
National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Foxman is a powerful legal force and voice. He speaks out on behalf of communities and individuals who suffer the results of anti-Semitism and bigotry in all of its forms.
Sonia P. Fuentes
Co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW)
Born in Berlin, Fuentes escaped the Holocaust with her family at the age of 5. Feeling that she had been saved for a reason, she dedicated her life to women's rights. After graduating from law school, she joined the newly-created Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and then became a founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966.
Rock music impresario and father of the modern music business
Born Wulf Wolodia Grajonca, Graham fled the Nazis as a child of the Kindertransport, and became one of the United States’ leading rock impresarios. Considered the father of the modern music business, Graham started San Francisco’s The Filmore and NYC’s The Filmore East, venues where Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, Led Zepplin, and Cream performed. He passed away in a helicopter crash. (1931-1991)
Immigrant Rights Activist
Greenstone committed her life to activism and serving recent immigrants. As a teenager in Poland, she unionized workers in her father’s factory. Soon after emigrating at age 18, she became the assistant immigrant arrival agent at Ellis Island, shepherding single women, mothers, and children through the complicated intake process, and speaking out for those who faced deportation. In 1914, at HIAS’ request, she traveled to Riga, Latvia, to inspect a facility constructed to house Jewish emigrants as they waited to journey to America.
Founder of Intel
Founder and chairman of Intel, Grove is the author of innumerable scientific and business papers. He also wrote the well-received memoir Swimming Across, which describes – among other things – his life in Hungary and daring escape.
Retailer and Seamstress
The founder of Lane Bryant (her legal name after a clerical error turned Lena to Lane and she married David Bryant, a Russian Jewish immigrant), Himmelstein created the first commercial maternity dress around 1911. This was a breakthrough for women who wanted to work or appear in public during their pregnancy. She was also the first to study stouter women’s figures scientifically and design clothing for their bodies. Himmelstein was a pioneer in employee benefits and a philanthropist. (1879-1951)
A friend of HIAS and the Jewish community, Jolson has been described as the world’s first superstar. Billed as “The World’s Greatest Entertainer,” he grew from a child vaudeville performer to a Broadway legend. (1886-1950)
Photographer and Author
Kaczyne never emigrated from his home in Poland, where his life tragically ended during the Holocaust. He did, however, leave a lasting record of shtetl life through the hundreds of intimate, stunning photographs sent to HIAS and the Forverts throughout the 1920s and 1930s. (1885-1941)
Last great star of Yiddish theater
Daughter of the great Polish Yiddish actress, Ester Rokhl Kaminska, and Abraham Yitzhok Kaminska, a successful actor, playwright and director, Kaminska was the last great star of Yiddish theater. She did her best to keep Yiddish theater alive in post-war Poland, producing more than 70 plays throughout her life, acting in 150 roles, translating 70 plays into Yiddish, dramatizing several novels, and writing 2 original scripts. In the U.S., she is known as the star of The Shop on Main Street (an Academy Award winning film in 1965), and for her performances on Broadway and at Carnegie Hall. (1899-1980)
Three-term mayor of Portland, Oregon
A three-term mayor of Portland, Oregon, Katz was born Vera Pistrak in Dusseldorf in 1933. She arrived in New York City on Columbus Day, 1940.
Nobel Prize-winning Secretary of State
Kissinger served as United States National Security Advisor (1969-1975) and as Secretary of State (1973-1977) under President Richard Nixon. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973
Russia via France, 1940
Kitain was a renowned classical pianist who was born into a family of professional musicians in St. Petersburg. While never a commercial success, he achieved critical acclaim; Classic CD magazine placed his "Complete Columbia Recordings 1936-1939" in the fifty all-time great piano recordings.
Three-time Olympic Gold Medallist
Krayzelburg won three gold medals in swimming at the 2000 Olympic Games. He arrived in America as a young teenager and now is committed to celebrating his once-forbidden Jewish heritage and is active in community causes. In 2001, he participated in Israel’s Maccabiah Games and graciously acting as co-chairman of HIAS Day.
Kunis (b. 1983) is a successful actress, known for her roles in numerous films and TV shows. She has been nominated for multiple Teen Choice Awards for her work in Black Swan, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Book of Eli, Max Payne, That '70s Show, and Family Guy, and has won two YoungStar Awards for Best Young Actress/Performance in a Comedy TV Series.
Restaurateur and proprietor of Café des Artistes in New York City
Lang was destined to be a concert violinist when World War II interrupted his plans. After a daring escape from Hungary to New York, he became a wildly successful restaurateur, expanding American ideas about cuisine and resurrecting Café des Artistes. In 1998, he published his exciting memoir, Nobody Knows the Truffles I’ve Seen.
Businesswoman & philanthropist
Born Evelyn Hausner, Lauder was a native of Vienna, Austria, who fled Nazi-occupied Europe with her family. She met and married Leonard Lauder shortly after starting her teaching career in Harlem schools, and joined Estée Lauder Companies—the business founded by her mother-in-law—where she ultimately became Senior Corporate Vice President, created the Clinique brand, and developed its product line.
Evelyn Lauder’s philanthropy and passion brought breast cancer and women’s health issues to the forefront of public awareness. She raised much of the $13.6 million to create the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and helped raise an additional $5 million for a clinical research endowment. Lauder also co-established The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which formalized the pink ribbon as a worldwide symbol for breast cancer awareness and has raised over $350 million to support breast cancer research across the globe.
Her life is best characterized by her own words: “My goal has always been to make it better for everybody for the next generation. In the best of Judeo-Christian tradition, I believe that one must leave the world a better place than you found it. That’s ultimately what I am about.”
Society columnist for the Forward
Leon, a Holocaust survivor, came to the US with her parents as a young girl, and soon embarked on her career as a writer. Immediately upon arrival, the family learned they were to be “repatriated” to Poland (not their native Lithuania). Young Masha wrote a letter explaining the dire situation to Eleanor Roosevelt, who interceded on the family’s behalf. Leon now writes "Fast Forward," a popular and entertaining society column for the Forward, America’s only national Jewish newspaper.
Immigrant rights orator & wife of Senator Joseph Lieberman
Lieberman’s impressive career and extensive voluntary community service has demonstrated her commitment to international health issues, non-profit organizations, and improving the nation’s educational system. She is married to Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who was the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate in 2000. HIAS was honored by her gracious participation in HIAS Day.
Soviet Union, 1974
Human rights advocate
In the 1960s, Litvinov was an important human rights leader and advocate, and the editor of samizdat works, The Demonstration in Pushkin Square (1967) and The Trial of Four (1968). Before emigrating, he was exiled for five years for demonstrating in the Red Square against the invasion of Czechoslovakia. In the United States, he has remained active in human rights campaigns and teaches physics.
Nobel Prize-winning author
The recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929, Mann (1875-1955)
is best known for the novels Buddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain, and Death in Venice. A vocal opponent of the Nazi party, he slipped out of Germany for Switzerland in 1933. After being warned by friends not to return, he immigrated to the United States.
Soviet Union, 1975
America’s “First-family” of the violin
A celebrated violinist, Markov’s formidable talents also are applied to composing and teaching music. He has been a featured soloist with numerous orchestras, playing at concert halls all over North and South America—including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In 1994, he was welcomed back to Moscow for a performance. As a “birthday gift” to HIAS, he performed at HIAS Day with his wife, Marina, and son, Alexander.
Soviet Union, 1975
America’s “First-family” of the violin
The son of Albert and Marina Markov, Alexander is a sought-after violinist. He first appeared as a soloist at the age of eight, and continues to perform all over the United States. He is known for an amazing command of the nineteenth century repertoire, and for a brilliant recording of Paganini’s infamously difficult “24 Caprices.”
Soviet Union, 1975
America’s “First-family” of the violin
A pianist and violinist, Markov worked and recorded in Russia as a member of the Bolshoi Theater Ensemble. She now plays major concerts with her husband, Albert, and son, Alexander. The Markovs performed at HIAS Day as a special “birthday gift.”
Soviet Union, 1940
Nabokov wrote 16 major novels in Russian and English, including Lolita and Pale Fire, as well as volumes of poetry and criticism. Born into an old, aristocratic, and political family, he studied at Cambridge and lived all over Europe and the United States. In addition to writing, Nabokov famously pursued a lifelong passion for butterfly hunting.
Mandy Patinkin (grandfather of)
Max Patinkin, Poland, 1905
Mandy Patinkin’s grandfather, Max, came to the U.S. as a young man to avoid being impressed in the czar’s army. In the U.S., he was a very successful junk peddler, with an ever-expanding business. Eventually, Max became a philanthropist, serving as director on the boards of many charitable organizations, including that of HIAS.
Mandy has also been a great success, in the world of entertainment. A Broadway star known to a mass audience for his leading movie roles in The Princess Bride and Yentl, he has also brought Yiddish songs to his many fans with his show (and subsequent album) Mamaloshn. Like his grandfather, he devotes his time and talents to Jewish causes.
Joan Rivers (family of)
Rivers, a friend of HIAS, has been a pioneer in the entertainment world. One of the first career comediennes, she began working in the 1950s, and has appeared in innumerable films and television programs.
Korean War hero
A true hero, Rubin came to the U.S. after surviving the Holocaust and immediately volunteered for the Korean War. He demonstrated extreme bravery, both in combat and as a prisoner-of-war. During the two years when he was imprisoned with other American soldiers, he risked his life each night by slipping out to find food for his companions.
HIAS social worker who saved many of Czechoslovakia's Jews during WWII
A heroic HIAS social worker in Czechoslovakia before and during World War II, Schmolka worked tirelessly to help Jewish refugees escape the country and Nazi terror. She sacrificed many opportunities to leave herself, passing precious visas on to others. She was arrested by the Gestapo in 1939, and died in 1940.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier
Protector of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe
A long-time HIAS board member, Schneier has served as the Rabbi of the historic Park East Synagogue in Manhattan since 1962. He founded the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School and the Minskoff Cultural Center, and is the founding president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. A Holocaust survivor, he is know for his pioneering role in the struggle on behalf of Soviet Jewry and the rebuilding of Jewish religious life in Russia, the Ukraine and Eastern Europe. He successfully negotiated the return of the Moscow Synagogue to the Jewish community and was instrumental in the restoration of the Ohel Rachel Synagogue in Shanghai.
Shteyngart came to the United States from Leningrad at the age of 7. He is the author of the acclaimed novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, and many other publications.
Smirnoff’s comedic routines are a playful take on the challenges faced by immigrants. Since coming to the U.S., he has appeared in numerous television programs and movies (most famously Moscow on the Hudson with Robin Williams). He currently performs regularly in his own theater in Branson, Missouri.
Founder of Commodore, a manufacturer of early computers
A Holocaust survivor, when Tramiel came to the United States he became a business sensation. He founded Commodore, a manufacturer of typewriters, calculators and—most famously—early computers.
Photographer, biologist, linguist, art historian and philosopher
A photographer, biologist, linguist, art historian and philosopher, Vishniac is known for his haunting photographs of shtetl life taken in the 1930s, and collected in Children of a Vanished World. During the same time, he was imprisoned in concentration camps on eleven separate occasions. Finally he escaped to the United States, where he taught in several fields at different universities, and practiced photomicroscopy (photographing living organisms). His descendants have been successful in the United States as artists and scientists.
Wendy Wasserstein (father of)
Morris Wasserstein, Poland, 1928
Playwright and producer
A beloved playwright and producer, Wasserstein’s works include: The Heidi Chronicles, Bachelor Girls, Any Woman Can’t: A Play, and Isn’t It Romantic. Wasserstein was born in Brooklyn, 22 years after HIAS helped her father, Morris Wasserstein, emigrate at age seven from Poland with his parents.
Author and winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize
Although he arrived in America without assistance from HIAS, Wiesel is recognized here for his past service on the HIAS Board of Directors and his continuing advocacy on behalf of the organization’s mission. His Holocaust memoir, Night, introduced him to a wide audience as an intellectual and writer. It has been translated into over thirty languages. Wiesel continues to act as a public intellectual, and is the winner of numerous humanitarian awards, including the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize.
Poet and activist
A political poet, Yevtushenko divides his time between Russia, where he is Poet Laureate, and the United States. His great poem, "Babii Yar," is the basis of Dmitri Shostakovich’s 13th Symphony. Yevtushenko has lived an activist’s life, spending his youth protesting against dissident trials at great personal risk and working closely with Andrei Sakharov. From 1988 to 1991, he served as a member of the first freely elected Parliament in the USSR. In 1991, the American Jewish Committee bestowed upon him the American Liberties Medallion.