I’ve always loved “top 50/100/whatever” lists.Â I made an attempt in High School to watch all 100 of AFI’s top movies.Â My senior English class spent time critiquing VH1’s top 100 rock songs.Â I can’t say I expected to see, in Newsweek no less, a list of America’s top 50 most influential Rabbis.Â This particular list provides a great deal of food for thought – what might it say about the current state of American Judaism?Â What defines one as an American Rabbi?
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.