Monday, March 26, 2007

I Didn't Make the Cut

Well, at least I was never the kid in gym class who didn't get drafted for the dodge-ball team!

Newsweek magazine has chosen to go into the "rabbi ranking" business and has listed their top fifty rabbis in America. I guess if Forbes Magazine can rank businesses and billionaires, why shouldn't there be a list of Holy Rollers? Newsweek explains their process for ranking these spiritual leaders in an article posted on their website today.

The background of the list:
Last fall, Sony Pictures CEO and Chairman Michael Lynton got together with his good friends and fellow power brokers Gary Ginsberg, of Newscorp., and Jay Sanderson, of JTN Productions and started working on a list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. They had a scoring system: Are the rabbis known nationally/internationally? (20 points.) Do they have a media presence? (10 points.) Are they leaders within their communities? (10 points.) Are they considered leaders in Judaism or their movements? (10 points.) Size of their constituency? (10 points.) Do they have political/social influence? (20 points.) Have they made an impact on Judaism in their career? (10 points.) Have they made a "greater" impact? (10 points.) This system, though helpful, is far from scientific; the men revised and rejiggered their list for months, and all three concede that the result is subjective.

Here is the list of America's Top Ten Rabbis (the complete list is here):

1. Marvin Hier (Orthodox) Hier is one phone call away from almost every world leader, journalist and Hollywood studio head. He is the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Museum of Tolerance and Moriah Films.

2. Yehuda Krinsky (Lubavitch)
Krinsky has truly built a shul on every corner and brought the Chabad movement mainstream prominence. He is the leader of Chabad and its CEO.

3. Uri D. Herscher (Reform) Herscher has built arguably America’s most culturally relevant Jewish institution and his passion has already touched hundreds of thousands of Jews and non-Jews of all ages. He is the founding president and CEO of the Skirball Cultural Center.

4. Yehuda Berg (Orthodox) Berg has made wearing the red string a popular phenomena in America and around the world and turned on everyone from Madonna to club-hopping young Jews to the power of the Kabbalah. He is an author and spiritual adviser at the Kabbalah Centre.

5. Harold Kushner (Conservative) Kushner has written nine inspirational books including the international best seller that helped millions grapple with "When Bad Things Happen to Good People." He is one of America’s truly gifted speakers and teachers.

6. David Ellenson (Reform) Ellenson is a trailblazer committed to bringing this generation’s Reform Jewish rabbis and teachers closer to traditional Judaism. He is the president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

7. Robert Wexler (Conservative) Wexler has re-envisioned Jewish education and created the largest Jewish continuing-education program in America while building a premier rabbinical school and liberal arts college. He is the president of the University of Judaism.

8. Irwin Kula (Conservative) Kula is committed to “taking Jewish public” and reshaping America’s spiritual landscape. He is the copresident of CLAL, a public television host and the author of "Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life."

9. Shmuley Boteach (Orthodox) Boteach has been called “the most famous rabbi in America” and his 17 books, TLC television series and celebrity friends help make that case. His book "Kosher Sex " introduced this Hasidic rabbi as a cultural phenomena.

10. M. Bruce Lustig (Reform) Each year on Yom Kippur, Lustig has an audience that even the president of the United States would envy. He is the rabbi of the largest congregation in D.C.

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