Jewish-American Hall of Fame Medals
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."
|1969||Judah L. Magnes (1877-1948)||Founder Hebrew University||Victor Ries|
|1970||Albert Einstein (1879-1955)||Theoretical physicist||Hal Reed|
|1971||Louis Brandeis (1856-1941)||Supreme Court Justice||Gerta Ries Wiener|
|1972||George Gershwin (1898-1937)||Composer, pianist||Robert Russin|
|1973||Haym Salomon (1740-1785)||Patriot, bussinessman||Paul Vincze|
|1974||Herbert Lehman (1878-1963)||Public servant||Jacques Schneir|
|1975||Gershom Seixas (1745-1816)||Patriotic rabbi (Revolutionary War)||Gerta Ries Wiener|
|1976||Henrietta Szold (1860-1945)||Founder of Hadassah||Gerta Ries Wiener|
|1977||Touro Synagogue (1763)||Oldest extant synagogue||Victor Ries|
|1978||Golda Meir (1898-1978)||Israel Prime Minister||Gerta Ries Wiener|
|1979||Levi Strauss (1829-1902)||Clothing manufacturer||Hal Reed|
|1980||Dr. Jonas Salk (1914-1995)||Developer of Polio vaccine||Hal Reed|
|1981||Rebecca Gratz (1781-1869)||Educator, philanthropist||Gerta Ries Wiener|
|1982||Isaac Stern (1920-2001)||Violin virtuoso||Gerta Ries Wiener|
|1983||Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)||“Statue of Liberty” poet||Gerta Ries Wiener|
|1984||Isaac B. Singer (1904-1991)||Nobel laureate Yiddish writer||Robert Russin|
|1985||Adolph Ochs (1858-1935)||NY Times publisher||Gerta Ries Wiener|
|1986||Abravanel, Zacuto, Santangel||Jews who helped Columbus||Paul Vincze|
|1987||Benjamin Cardozo (1870-1938)||Supreme Court Justice||Gerta Ries Wiener|
|1988||Uriah P. Levy (1792-1862)||Commodore U.S. Navy||Hal Reed|
|1989||Benny Goodman (1909-1966)||Clarinetist, “King of Swing”||Marika Somogyi|
|1990||Dr. Bela Schick (1877-1967)||Developed test for diphtheria||Gerta Ries Wiener|
|1991||Hank Greenberg (1911-1986)||Baseball Hall of Famer||Hal Reed|
|1992||Columbus , Torres (1492)||Expulsion of Jews||Paul Vincze|
|1993||Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)||Conductor, composer, teacher||Marika Somogyi|
|1994||Ernestine Rose (1810-1892)||Advocate for women’s rights||Gerta Ries Wiener|
|1995||Elie Wiesel (b. 1928)||Writer, lecturer, humanitarian||Alex Shagin|
|1996||Houdini (1874-1926)||Magician, escape artist||Hal Reed|
|1997||Barbra Streisand (b. 1942)||Singer, actress, director||Alex Shagin|
|1998||Strauses , Sarnoff (1912)||Heroes of Titanic tragedy||Alex Shagin|
|1999||Asser Levy (1654)||First Jews in America||Alex Shagin|
|2000||Arthur Miller (1915-2005)||Playwright, author||Marika Somogyi|
|2001||Bess Myerson (b. 1924)||Miss America, public servant||Alex Shagin|
|2002||Leopold Karpeles (1838-1909)||Medal of Honor recipient||Alex Shagin|
|2003/4||Gompers (1850-1924) & Hillman (1887-1946)||Labor leaders||Karen Worth|
|2005||“Rosie” Rosenthal (1917-2007)||World War II Flying “Ace”||Jim Licaretz|
|2006||Moe Berg (1902-1972)||Major League catcher, American spy||Eugene Daub|
|2007||Lillian Wald (1867-1940)||Founder Visiting Nurse Service||Virginia Janssen|
|2008||Milton Berle (1908-2002)||"Mr. Television," comedian||Eugene Daub|
|2009||40th Anniversary JAHF||Founder Mel Wacks’ 70th birthday||Eugene Daub|
|2010||Barney Ross (1909-1967)||Boxing champion, war hero||Eugene Daub|
|2011||Dr. Gertrude Elion (1918-1999)||Nobel Prize in Medicine winner||Daniel Altshuler|
|2012||Mordecai Noah (1785-1851)||Publisher, public servant, Zionist||Eugene Daub|
|2013||Ruth Bader Ginsburg (b. 1933)||Supreme Court Justice||Eugene Daub|
|2014||Jacob Frankel (1808-1887) & Alexander Goode (1911-1943)||Jewish Chaplains||Eugene Daub|
|2015||To be announced||To be announced||To be announced|
|2016||To be announced||To be announced||To be announced|
|2017||To be announced||To be announced||To be announced|
|2018||To be announced||To be announced||To be announced|
|2019||To be announced||To be announced||To 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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