Newsweek Won't Publish 'Top Rabbis' List

Controversial Ranking of U.S. Rabbis Won't Appear This Year

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published February 24, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, one of Newsweek’s top 50 rabbis.
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, one of Newsweek’s top 50 rabbis.

Newsweek will not be publishing its annual “Top 50 Rabbis” list in 2014, the magazine’s managing editor Kira Bindrim confirmed.

The list, published since 2007, ranked American Jewish religious leaders based on their perceived clout, drawing attention and controversy when it was published each spring.

Newsweek stopped publishing its print edition in late 2012, then was purchased by online news company IBT Media last August. IBT continues to publish the magazine online and plans to re-launch the print edition in March. The Top Rabbis list, apparently, will not re-launch with it.

The annual ranking included male and female rabbis from across the denominational spectrum. Rabbis were said to be ranked based on their public profile and the impact of their ideas. Near-perennial list-toppers included Yehuda Krinsky, a leading organizational figure in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, and David Wolpe, spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.

Media executives Michael Lynton and Gary Ginsberg were only half-serious when they first thought up the list in 2006, according to a 2013 story in the Jewish Journal. Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, and Ginsberg, now the Executive Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Time Warner Inc., came up with the idea on a trip to Israel.

“[W]e thought: Wouldn’t it be fun, and a little bit mischievous, to put together a list of who these people are and rank order them?” Lynton told the Jewish Journal.

Whatever the intention, U.S. rabbis took the list seriously. Synagogues boasted about their leaders being included. Universities issued press releases naming alumni and faculty who Newsweek cited. And the rabbis themselves advertised their inclusion, mentioning it in their Twitter bios and on their organization’s websites.

Jewish publications regularly ran opinion pieces criticizing the list, calling its criteria arbitrary and obscure.

Yet that didn’t keep them from following Newsweek’s lead. The Forward launched an annual reader-generated “Most Inspiring Rabbis” list in 2013. And MyJewishLearning ran a “Top Rabbis” list in 2012.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.