Newsweek has published its list of the 50 most influential rabbis in the US.
We do not know what "influential" means. The authors do explain their methodology, but not why it makes any sense. They then present a list without telling us how each rabbi met their criteria. Since this is not the first year they are doing this, they give last year's ranking with no hint as to why a rabbi moved up or down on the scale.
Celebrity lists abound in Hollywood, whence this one emanates. But how do you justify using Hollywood standards for religious leaders? We thought there was more substance to religion's place in our lives, that it was more than mere entertainment and that its leaders were more than PR seekers. Guess not.
Anyhow. we'd be better informed and more interested if the magazine published a list of the 50 highest paid rabbis in America.
Or perhaps this is that list. So where are the compensation numbers? In the America that we live in, the most reliable measure of success and influence, is compensation.
And note well that eleven of our fellow Yeshiva University Rabbinic Alumni are on the list: Ephraim Buchwald '76R, Abraham Cooper '74R, Mark Dratch '82R, Yehiel Eckstein '75R, Menachem Genack '73R, Rosh HaYeshiva Norman Lamm '51R, Haskel Lookstein '58R, Arthur Schneier '56R, Marc Schneier '83R, Joseph Telushkin '73R and Avi Weiss '68R.
YU President Richard Joel is not on the list; he is not a rabbi. JTS President Arnie Eisen is not on the list either; he is not a rabbi.