Jewish-American Hall of Fame Medals



2015-06-26 11:06:29

The Jewish-American Hall of Fame is a non-profit website featuring 500 years of American Jewish history from the Jews who helped Columbus to Barbra Streisand, illustrated by specially commissioned art medals. The tradition of American Jewish medals is understood to date back to about 1812.

The Jewish-American Hall of Fame was established by Mel Wacks at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley, California in 1969, with the support and encouragement of Seymour Fromer, Director of the Magnes Museum. Limited edition medals are issued annually to commemorate the accomplishments of men and women in various fields, historic sites and events. The first medal and almost all subsequent issues are uniquely trapezoidal shape, an innovation of Berkeley sculptor Victor Ries. In 2001, the Jewish-American Hall of Fame became a Division of the American Jewish Historical Society in New York.


Over 25,000 medals have been made and sold by the Jewish-American Hall of Fame, and they are in collections of individuals and museums in the United States, China, England, Israel, Sweden, etc.

In 1990, Alan Stahl wrote in the catalog of FIDEM (International Federation of Medallic Art that the Jewish-American Hall of Fame medals were one of the three most "important series of medals in recent years."

1969Judah L. Magnes (1877-1948)Founder Hebrew UniversityVictor Ries
1970Albert Einstein (1879-1955)Theoretical physicistHal Reed
1971Louis Brandeis (1856-1941)Supreme Court JusticeGerta Ries Wiener
1972George Gershwin (1898-1937)Composer, pianistRobert Russin
1973Haym Salomon (1740-1785)Patriot, bussinessmanPaul Vincze
1974Herbert Lehman (1878-1963)Public servantJacques Schneir
1975Gershom Seixas (1745-1816)Patriotic rabbi (Revolutionary War)Gerta Ries Wiener
1976Henrietta Szold (1860-1945)Founder of HadassahGerta Ries Wiener
1977Touro Synagogue (1763)Oldest extant synagogueVictor Ries
1978Golda Meir (1898-1978)Israel Prime MinisterGerta Ries Wiener
1979Levi Strauss (1829-1902)Clothing manufacturerHal Reed
1980Dr. Jonas Salk (1914-1995)Developer of Polio vaccineHal Reed
1981Rebecca Gratz (1781-1869)Educator, philanthropistGerta Ries Wiener
1982Isaac Stern (1920-2001)Violin virtuosoGerta Ries Wiener
1983Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)“Statue of Liberty” poetGerta Ries Wiener
1984Isaac B. Singer (1904-1991)Nobel laureate Yiddish writerRobert Russin
1985Adolph Ochs (1858-1935)NY Times publisherGerta Ries Wiener
1986Abravanel, Zacuto, SantangelJews who helped ColumbusPaul Vincze
1987Benjamin Cardozo (1870-1938)Supreme Court JusticeGerta Ries Wiener
1988Uriah P. Levy (1792-1862)Commodore U.S. NavyHal Reed
1989Benny Goodman (1909-1966)Clarinetist, “King of Swing”Marika Somogyi
1990Dr. Bela Schick (1877-1967)Developed test for diphtheriaGerta Ries Wiener
1991Hank Greenberg (1911-1986)Baseball Hall of FamerHal Reed
1992Columbus , Torres (1492)Expulsion of JewsPaul Vincze
1993Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)Conductor, composer, teacherMarika Somogyi
1994Ernestine Rose (1810-1892)Advocate for women’s rightsGerta Ries Wiener
1995Elie Wiesel (b. 1928)Writer, lecturer, humanitarianAlex Shagin
1996Houdini (1874-1926)Magician, escape artistHal Reed
1997Barbra Streisand (b. 1942)Singer, actress, directorAlex Shagin
1998Strauses , Sarnoff (1912)Heroes of Titanic tragedyAlex Shagin
1999Asser Levy (1654)First Jews in AmericaAlex Shagin
2000Arthur Miller (1915-2005)Playwright, authorMarika Somogyi
2001Bess Myerson (b. 1924)Miss America, public servantAlex Shagin
2002Leopold Karpeles (1838-1909)Medal of Honor recipientAlex Shagin
2003/4Gompers (1850-1924) & Hillman (1887-1946)Labor leadersKaren Worth
2005“Rosie” Rosenthal (1917-2007)World War II Flying “Ace”Jim Licaretz
2006Moe Berg (1902-1972)Major League catcher, American spyEugene Daub
2007Lillian Wald (1867-1940)Founder Visiting Nurse ServiceVirginia Janssen
2008Milton Berle (1908-2002)"Mr. Television," comedianEugene Daub
200940th Anniversary JAHFFounder Mel Wacks’ 70th birthdayEugene Daub
2010Barney Ross (1909-1967)Boxing champion, war heroEugene Daub
2011Dr. Gertrude Elion (1918-1999)Nobel Prize in Medicine winnerDaniel Altshuler
2012Mordecai Noah (1785-1851)Publisher, public servant, ZionistEugene Daub
2013Ruth Bader Ginsburg (b. 1933)Supreme Court JusticeEugene Daub
2014Jacob Frankel (1808-1887) & Alexander Goode (1911-1943)Jewish ChaplainsEugene Daub
2015To be announcedTo be announcedTo be announced
2016To be announcedTo be announcedTo be announced
2017To be announcedTo be announcedTo be announced
2018To be announcedTo be announcedTo be announced
2019To be announcedTo be announcedTo be announced


A permanent exhibit of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame plaques was inaugurated at the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Virginia, in 2010.

The First American Jewish Medal

After extensive research, Mel Wacks has concluded that (1) the die for the first American Jewish medal, commemorating Gershom Mendes Seixas, was not made in 1816 as previously supposed; it existed as early as February 7, 1812. (2) There is no reason to assume that the die was commissioned by Columbia or even that the medal in the Columbia Archives was made by Columbia. (3) And lastly, the silver “shell” medal in the Columbia archives was engraved after the death of Gershom Mendes Seixas on July 2, 1816 on a medal that was made sometime c. 1812 – 1816.

Harry Flower Collection of Albert Einstein Medals

Harry Flower amassed a large collection of medals from around the world, honoring Albert Einstein. These can be viewed by country of origin.


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