Selected by a public vote, the individuals who will be featured are:
Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Louis Brandeis, Albert Einstein, Mordecai Kaplan, Sandy Koufax, Estée Lauder, Emma Lazarus, Isaac Leeser, Golda Meir, Jonas Salk, Rose Schneiderman, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Henrietta Szold and Isaac Mayer Wise.The vote was held from July 8-August 6, 2009. On the list were 218 possible candidates in eight categories (Arts & Entertainment; Business & Philanthropy; Literature; Performance; Politics, Law & Activism; Religion & Thought; Science & Medicine; and Sports).
The Museum received more than 209,000 votes from 56 countries. Selected for Gallery inclusion was the person who received the most votes in each category, while the Museum's historians and curators ensured that the group reflected the US's 350 years of Jewish history and the diverse fields they represented. Additional honorees will be added in future years and visitors to the site can continue to submit names of individuals they believe should be included.
According to Museum president/CEO Michael Rosenzweig the public played a significant role in choosing the first group of honored individuals and the 18 honorees are a consensus between the public vote and the Museum's historians and curators.
Thousands of viewers went to the website to learn about all the candidates.
The Gallery/Hall of Fame will be located on the Museum's first floor, and it is being called a landmark museum experience which will feature major film productions, original artifacts and an interactive database.
The database includes information on the entire list of 218 individuals and is available online and to all Museum visitors.
The Museum's academic historians are Dr. Jonathan Sarna, Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University; Dr. Pamela S. Nadell, Professor of History and Director of the Jewish Studies Program, American University; Dr. Beth S. Wenger, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Jewish Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Michael Berenbaum, writer, lecturer and teacher consulting in the conceptual development of museums and Sigi Ziering Institute director at the American Jewish University: and Dr. Josh Perelman Museum Historian and programming deputy director.
For more information, see the Museum site at the link above.