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A Statistically Accurate, Methodologically Sound Top 50 Rabbis List

Last fall, three self-appointed bozos tried to do to the Jewish world what VH1 and others do to the world of entertainment: insert ridiculous standards of measurement create a circus, er, a Top 50 Rabbis list. So Sony Pictures CEO and Chairman Michael Lynton got together with his good friends and fellow power brokers Gary Ginsberg, of Newscorp., and Jay Sanderson, of JTN Productions and started working on a list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. Their (un)representative work was published in Newsweek magazine. When I speak to my colleagues, I assure them that they must have been Number 51. On our Rabbinical listserve, I posted the following:

I was very excited about the top 50 Rabbis list until I read it and realized that a typographical error left me off the list. That said, top 50 lists tell us more about the people writing them than the people listed on them.

Seriously though, in the aftermath of the list’s publication, I conducted a statistically accurate, methodologically sound survey of thoughtful and totally objective Jews around the country. I asked them one simple question: “Who are the top 5 rabbis in the United States of America today?” After joking that it must be “their childhood rabbi,” each (to the one) listed only one name.

Lest you think I am skewing the results, I give you the raw data: who I asked and what they said.
My Mom: You son.
My Dad: You son.
My Deceased Grandparents: Paul Kipnes
My Sister (who owes me some money still): You Paul
My Son (who wants a new Ipod): You dad.
The Couple Whose Wedding I will officiate at next month: You Rabbi
The Kid whose Bar mitzvah service is this weekend: You Rabbi
My Wife: Your friend Ron Stern (She, of course, is not objective, so I threw out her

Did the other group give you their raw data? I think not. You decide. Or better yet, conduct your own survey. I’m sure if it is as objective as mine, you will find the results to be equally satisfying…


  1. Anonymous says:

    maybe, success shouldnt be measured by the position or status we achieve, but by the lives we touch on the way
    and yes, I only know of one rabbi that belongs on that list

  2. Sue Gould says:

    I saw that article and was really relieved that you were not mentioned. I have to apologize & come clean. I bribed them in order to have them place really lame rabbis on the list. After all, we wanna keep the best rabbi on the planet all to ourselves. Sorry, but I guess it's time you learn that I really don't share that well. Guess I had you fooled!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Truth in advertising:

    Sue Gould is our temple president. She gets paid a lot of money (none) to stoke my ego.

    Rabrick is a rabbi and his wife is a rabbi. So their survey results are skewed because they put family above truth. If you take out their self-serving votes, I’m still number one.

    Rabbi Paul Kipnes

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