Top rabbis

April 17, 2008 at 7:09 pm 1 comment

Newsweek just published their (now annual) list of top rabbis in America. This year they split the categories into Top 25 Pulpit Rabbis in America and Top 50 Influential American Rabbis. I had planned to leave this alone (except for a post on Synablog because many of the rabbis are associate with Synagogue 3000), but after reading Rabbi Jill Jacobs’ post on and Tamar Fox’s post on jewcy I couldn’t help myself.

Last year when the list came out, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin wrote a great piece in the New York Jewish Week entitled, “Solace For Rabbis Not Among ‘Top 50’.” I won’t try to rewrite or even paraphrase Salkin’s article but he makes several points worth quoting – and remembering.

“Impact? Influence? What possible way is there to gauge the influence and impact of rabbis who, quietly and without fanfare, teach Torah every day of any week in any synagogue?” How many thousands of American Jews have been touched by an interaction with a rabbi who changed their life? How on earth could we possibly measure this kind of impact?

“’s list of top rabbis should not only cause concern for rabbis, it should cause concern for lay leaders as well. The making of a Jew is a slow and laborious task, and most of the work happens out of anyone’s range of sight.” Agreed – this list only makes it harder for ‘in the trench’ rabbis to do the excellent work they do, every day, every week, slowly forming individuals.

And finally, “And so, to my colleagues who are peeved that they didn’t make the list, despite their contacts, and to those Jews in the pews who are miffed that their rabbis’ names somehow got left on the cutting-room floor, do not despair. Like the afikomen at the Seder, the real goodness that happens is often hidden — it’s just waiting for someone to find it.”

This is all true – unless I’m on the list next year!

Entry filed under: Judaism. Tags: , , .

A principal with principles The Jewish People, Inc.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. poemsandspeeches  |  August 30, 2010 at 7:57 am

    My fa vorite Rabbi of all time, was Ronald Gittlesohn from Boston, Mass. He was wonderful in many ways, his sermons got a bit tiresome but he was well respected in the Boston community.

    I miss him, he has passed.


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