Why do Jews Win So Many Nobel Prizes?

nobel medalThe Nobel prizes of 2013 have been awarded, the committee members have gone home, and here at GoInspire we’re trying to solve a mystery:

Why are so many Nobel Laureates Jewish?

The recipients of this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry are Arieh Warshel, Michael Levitt, and Martin Karplus. They won the prize for “the development of multi-scale models for complex chemical systems”. The part that is most interesting to us is that all three of them are Jewish, and Warshel and Levitt hold Israeli citizenship.

And it doesn’t end there.

nobel chemistry winnersThis year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded jointly to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof. Two of the three winners are Jewish: James Rothman of Yale University and Randy Schekman of the University of California.

The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2013 was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs, for the discovery of the Higgs particle. Englert, 80, is Jewish, and a Sackler Professor by Special Appointment in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University. He is also a Holocaust survivor.

This year, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”. Surprisingly for a country that has quite a history of war, two Israeli leaders have been chosen for this honor in the past. In 1994, Prime Ministers Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East”.

tayeletIt is not a rare phenomenon for Israeli citizens to be named as Nobel Prize winners. Israel boasts twelve Nobel laureates in the 65 years that the prize has been around. In fact, no less than 22% of all Nobel laureates have been Jewish. Considering the fact that Jews make up only 0.2% of the world population, this is a staggering statistic.

Here’s something most people don’t know: there is even a street in the Israeli town of Rishon LeZion named in honor of all Jewish Nobel laureates. It’s called Tayelet Hatnei Pras Nobel (Nobel Laureates Boulevard/Promenade), and it features a monument with an attached plaque for each Nobel Laureate.

The Nobel Prize is named for Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite. Before he died, he left instructions to use his fortune to establish five prizes a year. The purpose of this was to recognize those who distinguish themselves in five particular disciplines. Nobel devised this idea because he didn’t want to be remembered for something as destructive and deadly as dynamite. He wanted to be remembered for something positive and life-affirming. Therefore, he dictated in his will that his Peace Prize should go to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Above all, the Nobel Prizes favor people who seek to advance human knowledge or create solutions to the world’s problems.

So why are so many winners Israeli?

Business HiTech 1Well, one would be hard-pressed to find a country whose population is more dedicated to Nobel’s goal than Israel. The founders of Israel began by turning a desert wasteland into a homeland, and a group of mosquito-infested swamps into prosperous vital cities. Why did they devote their lives to this? In order to create a safe place for their children to live.

That former wasteland is now world-renowned for its hi-tech advances and humanitarian efforts. It is no wonder that so many Israelis have been recognized with the Nobel Prize. After all, they are noble individuals, striving for a noble cause.

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5 Comments on Why do Jews Win So Many Nobel Prizes?

  1. EnglishGirl says:

    Hey, this is sooo cool, makes me proud to be Jewish!! But what about English people?! Americans seem to get at least some prizes…!!

    • Shifra Bamberger says:

      Peter Higgs, who won the Physics 2013 Nobel Prize, is English. He was offered a knighthood in 1999 by Prime Minister Tony Blair but refused the honour, because he did not want “that sort of title”.

  2. Rolly Natividad says:

    Because the Jews are super-educated, gifted, and blessed to be a blessing to mankind.

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