Newsweek Web Exclusive
Here is the second annual version of the list—generated by Michael Lynton, (chairman & CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment), Gary Ginsberg, (executive VP, global marketing and corporate affairs, News Corp.) and Jay Sanderson, (CEO and executive producer, JTN/JTN Productions)—of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. In the fall of 2006, the friends, interested in the future of American Jewry and the evolving role of the rabbi, started a conversation that eventually became "the list." The machers ranked the rabbis based on the following unscientific criteria:
• Are they known nationally/internationally? (20 points)
• Do they have political/social influence? (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)
• Have they made an impact on Judaism in their career? (10 points)
• Have they made a greater impact beyond the Jewish community and their Rabbinical training? (10 points)
1. Marvin Hier (Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #1)
Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. 26. David Stern (Reform)
Stern’s congregation, Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, is the largest in the Southwest.
2. Eric Yoffie (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #12)
President of the Union for Reform Judaism. 27. Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (Renewal)
(2007 Ranking #22)
Founded the Jewish renewal movement in America.
3. Robert Wexler (Conservative)
(2007 Ranking #7)
President of the American Jewish University. 28. Arthur Schneier (Orthodox)
Founder and president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.
4. Yehuda Krinsky (Lubavitch)
(2007 Ranking #2)
Global leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, a branch of Hasidism. 29. David M. Posner (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #23)
Spiritual leader of New York’s Temple Emanuel.
5. David Saperstein (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #16)
Director of the Religious Action Center and the co-chair of the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty. 30. Sharon Brous (Conservative)
Founder of IKAR, a Los Angeles-based community focused sharply on social justice.
6. Uri D. Herscher (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #3)
Founder and CEO of the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. 31. Bradley Shavit Artson (Conservative)
Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University.
7. Irwin Kula (Conservative)
(2007 Ranking #8)
Co-president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and bestselling author. 32. Kerry M. Olitzky (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #27)
One of the leading rabbinical advocates for outreach to interfaith and unaffiliated families in America.
8. David Ellenson (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #6)
President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the nation’s oldest institution of higher Jewish education. 33. Saul J. Berman (Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #14)
Scholar, author and proponent of Modern Orthodox Judaism.
9. Shmuley Boteach (Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #9)
Author of the recently published "The Broken Male and How to Fix Him". 34. Marc Gellman (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #31)
Author and cohost of “The God Squad” television program.
10. Mark Charendoff (Orthodox)
President of the Jewish Funders Network, an international organization of family foundations, public philanthropies and individual funders. 35. Elliot Dorff (Conservative)
(2007 Ranking #30)
Leader of the top lawmaking body in Conservative Judaism.
11. Yehuda Berg (Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #4)
One of the world’s most popular authorities on the Kabbalah. 36. Avi Weiss (Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #25)
Senior rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in the Bronx.
12. David Wolpe (Conservative)
(2007 Ranking #18)
Tops the list of pulpit rabbis in America. 37. Michael Greenbaum (Conservative)
Vice chancellor and COO of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
13. J. Rolando (Roly)Matalon (Conservative)
(2007 Ranking #17)
The spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York City. 38. Nachum Braverman (Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #36)
Prominent leader in Aish Hatorah, a Jerusalem-based educational and heritage organization.
14. Harold Kushner (Conservative)
(2007 Ranking #5)
Best-selling author, pulpit rabbi and speaker. 39. Bradley Hirschfield (Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #37)
Co-president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL).
15. Peter J. Rubinstein (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #11)
Spiritual leader of New York’s Central Synagogue. 40. Hayim Herring (Conservative)
(2007 Ranking #38)
Executive director of STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal).
16. Zalman Teitelbaum (Hasidim)
(2007 Ranking #15)
Leader of the Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 41. Naomi Levy (Conservative)
(2007 Ranking #40)
Popular author and a leading woman in the Conservative movement.
17. Sharon Kleinbaum (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #19)
Senior Rabbi of the world’s largest synagogue for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews. 42. Harold Loss (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #47)
Loss has more than 12,000 members in his congregation at Temple Israel in Detroit.
18. Jeffrey Wohlberg (Conservative)
Rabbi at Washington, D.C.’s Adas Israel Congregation. 43. Norman Lamm (Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #44)
Chancellor of Yeshiva University.
19. Harold M. Schulweis (Conservative)
(2007 Ranking #13)
Rabbi of Congregation Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA. 44. Ephraim Buchwald (Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #24)
Founder of the National Jewish Outreach Program.
20. Dan Ehrenkrantz (Reconstructionist)
(2007 Ranking #20)
President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. 45. Toba Spitzer (Reconstructionist)
(2007 Ranking #44)
Became the first openly lesbian rabbi to head a national rabbinic association in March 2007.
21. Joseph Telushkin (Conservative/Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #21)
Best-selling author and speaker. 46. Nosson Scherman (Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #45)
General editor for ActScroll/Mesorah Publications.
22. Haskel Lookstein (Orthodox)
Head of New York’s Ramaz School and Rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun. 47. Stephen Pearce (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #46)
Leader of San Francisco’s largest congregation with 2,700 families.
23. Art Green (Renewal)
Dean of Hebrew College’s Rabbinical School. 48. Michael Paley (Conservative)
(2007 Ranking #49)
Scholar in residence and director of the Jewish Resource Center of the UJA-Federation of New York.
24. M. Bruce Lustig (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #10)
Leader of Washington Hebrew Congregation, the largest congregation in Washington, D.C. 49. Steven Leder (Reform)
Senior rabbi at Los Angeles’s Wilshire Boulevard Temple.
25. Abraham Cooper (Orthodox)
(2007 Ranking #29)
Associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. 50. Michael Lerner (Reform)
(2007 Ranking #28)
Editor of Tikkun and a leading progressive political activist.