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The best rabbis in all the land

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 15, 2008 | 1:34 am

In a scoop reserved for the Jewish Journal‘s often-irreverent Up Front feature, Amy Klein got an advanced copy of this year’s list of America’s top rabbis, which followed last year’s inaugural expedition in ranking the rabbinate.

Last year, when Newsweek published its inaugural list of America’s 50 most influential rabbis, Jay Sanderson, one of the list’s creators, said he was surprised by how much buzz it generated.

“We had hoped it would be provocative and it would open up conversation about religious leaders in America today,” Sanderson said.

But he was shocked at how many newspapers and bloggers—more than 100—picked up the story. Even the Aryan Nation Web site used the list to show how the Jews run Hollywood, he said.

Jews around the country—including many rabbis—were talking about who made the list, who didn’t make the list, who shouldn’t have made the list and what would be a better list.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance, again topped the list of influentials. A new category was added this year, though, that ranked top pulpit rabbis, and it too was headlined by an Angeleno: Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple, who at this time seven years ago gave one of the more memorable Passover sermons in a long, long time.

Sanderson collaborated on the list with News Corp EVP Gary Ginsberg and Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, whose Jewish journey I profiled last fall. Newsweek‘s got the list up now.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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