Newsweek Begins Ordaining Rabbis
04/18/2011 - 15:16
Anonymous

OK, that headline was a joke.

But less than 10 months after its last “50 Most Influential Rabbis” list, Newsweek, newly merged with The Daily Beast, is back to rabbi-ranking.

Why is your trusted “In the Mix” blogger writing about this, you ask? After all, this is not the “50 Most Interfaith -Friendly Rabbis” (although it does include the Jewish Outreach Institute’s Kerry Olitzky) or the “50 Most Influential Intermarried Jews” (a great idea, however, and I humbly volunteer to be considered for such a list).

But hey, everybody loves a list, I wrote about it last time around, and the fact that rabbi lists are not really relevant to its mission didn’t stop Newsweek/The Daily Beast, which, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t rank other clergy.

To its credit, Newsweek/TDB has improved the list this year, adding a woman judge (journalist and author Abigail Pogrebin) to the selection process and doubling the number of women rabbis: 13 this year, compared to last year’s six. There is even a woman in the top 10, although just barely: Sharon Brous of IKAR weighs in at No. 10. (She was No. 31 in June.)

The women rabbis making the list for the first time are: Julie Schonfeld, Elka Abrahamson, Angela Buchdahl (who is also a cantor), Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, Laura Geller and Jacqueline Ellenson.

Born in Korea to a Jewish American father and a Korean Buddhist mother, Rabbi Buchdahl is, according to her bio on the Central Synagogue website, the first Asian American to be ordained as cantor or rabbi in North America. And she may be the first child-of-intermarried-parents rabbi (and patrilineal at that) to make the Newsweek list.

Another bit of trivia on this year’s rabbi list: it features husband-and-wife rabbis (Jacqueline and David Ellenson) and father-and-son rabbis (Gordon and Ethan Tucker).

Incidentally, when they are not ranking rabbis, the Jew-obsessed Newsweek and The Daily Beast are apparently ranking America’s Jewish cities. From the rabbi list, you can click to a “Gallery” of “30 Jewish Cities,” the selection criteria for which are not elucidated, although stats about kosher restaurants, synagogues per capita and Jewish percentage of the population (God knows what statistical source they are relying on, since no one seems to agree how many Jews there are anywhere) are featured.

No one will question New York’s placement as No. 1, of course, but some of the other choices are a bit bizarre. Hartford, Conn., places ahead of Chicago and Los Angeles? Rochester, N.Y., Buffalo, N.Y. and Pittsfield, Mass., outrank San Diego, Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Detroit? And why on earth is Harrisburg, Pa., on the list?

In any event, a happy Passover to all, regardless of whether you, your rabbi or your city has been deemed worth by Newsweek!

Comments

Julie,

I don't understand this comment:

"To its credit, Newsweek/TDB has improved the list this year, adding a woman judge (journalist and author Abigail Pogrebin) to the selection process and doubling the number of women rabbis: 13 this year, compared to last year’s six."

While I'm all for equality, I don't understand why a larger quantity of women on the list is by definition an improvement. Yes, adding a woman to the process is important, as it creates a larger variety of opinions among those selecting this list. But if the goal of the rankings is to be honest, then it should be the "Top 50 Influential Rabbis," not "The Top 50 Influential Rabbis with at least x of those being women." Again, if these 13 were deserving, then that's great. But simply going from 6 to 13 women without considering the merits is not a reason to assume improvement.

This list is ridiculous and should be done away with. It has no merit. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

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