Newsweek and the Daily Beast recently published their roster of top American Jewish leadership—”rabbis who are reimagining ritual, reinventing institutions, mobilizing social activism and energizing scholarship.” Although Newsweek and the Daily Beast recognize that this ranking could encourage clergy to focus on publicity or ubiquity, the feeling is that bottom line the rabbis on this list personify the most important roles in Jewish leaders—selfless listeners, teachers, connectors, and galvanizers.
Although described by the publishers as subjective, unscientific, and somewhat mischievous in its conception, the goal of this list is to spark discussion and showcase the uninitiated—”machers” and up-and-coming trailblazers on the Jewish landscape alike.
What really wowed (but didn’t surprise) us was the large number of Hartman-affiliated rabbis that were once again named.
Four Hartman Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (RLI) alumni were selected for this year’s list, including Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the incoming head of the Union for Reform Judaism and an alumnus of RLI II, and three graduates of the first RLI cohort—Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation, Chicago; Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom, Encino; and Rabbi Laura Geller of Temple Emanuel, Beverly Hills. Also listed was Rabbi Sharon Brous, founder of the IKAR Jewish spiritual community and a graduate of the SHI TICHON program that provided enrichment for Jewish educators.
Current Engaging Israel fellow Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, the dean of Hebrew College, earned a mention as did several regular Rabbinical Torah Study Seminar (RTS) participants and guest faculty including Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion’s Rabbi David Ellenson, Hebrew College’s Rabbi Art Green, and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah’s Rabbi Avi Weiss.
Mazel tov to all for this well-earned recognition of the important and transformative work that you are doing. All of North American Jewry and the Jewish people are blessed by your leadership.