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Chabad’s Krinsky is number one; and 49 more

Marc Tracy
June 29, 2010
Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, center, late last year.(Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)
Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, center, late last year.(Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

Mazel tov to Yehuda Krinsky, whom Newsweek named the most influential rabbi in America in its annual list. The Chabad-Lubavitch leader—“the contemporary face of the Hasidic branch”—improved on his number 4 showing in last year’s list. Coming in second is Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the head of the Reform movement, who jumped an impressive six spots from last year. (Yoffie recently announced that he will retire in two years.) Rounding out the top five are Martin Hier, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Mark Charendoff, of the Jewish Funders Network; and the politically-minded David Saperstein (who was last year’s number one), of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

A special in-the-family pat on the back to Joseph Telushkin, who held steady at spot 15. Telushkin’s biography of Hillel is being published by Nextbook Press in September.

Some more notable winners (and some losers) from the list—which is the brainchild of Sony Pictures’s Michael Lynton and “his pal” Gary Ginsberg, and which is strictly subjective—after the jump.

Shmuley. New Jersey’s own Shmuley Boteach jumped a spot, from 7 to 6.

Big gains from Avi Weiss. The Bronx-based Modern Orthodox rabbi jumped from 38 to 18, on the strength of his controversial granting of the title “rabba” to a female student of his, Sara Hurwitz. Speaking of which …

Women. I count six women on both lists, with the highest-ranking, Ellen Weinberg-Dreyfus of the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, moving up from 18 to 17. Hurwitz is a new addition, at 36. And Sharon Kleinbaum, the rabbi at Manhattan’s Beth Simchat Torah—the world’s largest LGBT-oriented synagogue—held steady at number 25.

Leave your shul, doesn’t matter. In 2009, while Jeffrey Wohlberg was still top rabbi at the venerable Washington, D.C., Conservative shul Adas Israel (where he presided over the bar mitzvah of your humble blogger), he was at 19. In 2010, as president of the Rabbinical Assembly, Wohlberg was at … 19.

A tale of two Schneiers. In 2009, rabbi-to-the-stars (and—ladies!—newly single) Marc Schneier was ranked 33rd; this year, he dropped to 41. But Arthur Schneier, of the Park East Synagogue, rose from 36th to 34th. Oh, it is on. Which Schneier are you chneiering for?

The 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America (2010) [Newsweek]
50 Influential Rabbis (2009) [Newsweek]

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.