Maybe The Jews really do control the media. Last week, Newsweek and The Daily Beast released their annual list of America’s Top 50 Rabbis (not to be confused with the 36 Most Inspiring Rabbis which the Forward released this week.) The list, which started as a contrast to the “Vanity Fair list of the most powerful people in Hollywood” is one of the few accolades American Jewish Rabbis – across denominations – often cite in their biographies and compete for.
As an involved Jewish-American who owns a PR firm and works daily with the media, it’s odd that a handful of people are determining rabbinical success. While they say their system is “unscientific,” “arbitrary,” “subjective” and “inexact”, naturally it’s a great attention-grabber for the media. There’s no question that the media are quite liberal, and one wonders how many ultra-Orthodox (and right-wing Modern Orthodox) who shun media were considered for these lists?
The good news of course is most often when we read about Rabbis in mainstream American media it’s about a scandal – so at least this list is meant to celebrate positivity. (And of course there’s at least one thing right about the list – my Rabbi, heroic Rabbi Avi Weiss is on it.)
The truth is as one of the selectors put it, most American Jews have no leader. They don’t know rabbinical leadership or any other American Jewish leader. As Abigail Pogrebin truthfully said, “What I did begin to really believe in is the sense that we’re telling people what’s going on in the Jewish world, because the average Jew has no idea.”
Of course, there’s more Jewish media lists coming – On April 23rd, The Algemeiner Journal will unleash “The Jewish 100” of the ‘top 100 people positively influencing the Jewish future’ at their gala event – where the featured speaker will be Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel and MC Heather Nauert of Fox News.
Jews and the media.