Who Are America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis?



Mazel tov to the 36 individuals – including 10 Reform rabbis – included in the Jewish Daily Forward recently released list of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis. The list includes 36 rabbis who, editor Jane Eisner says, are “shaping 21st-century Judaism.” Among them are following Reform rabbis, all nominated by their congregants and others with whom they work:

Of the list and its nomination process, Eisner writes,

The rabbis profiled on these pages, and the hundreds more suggested by Forward readers, teach us a profound lesson about the yearnings of American Jews at this fraught moment in time.

I didn’t expect such a lesson. When we initiated this project, I hoped to engage readers and hear stories about rabbis in unlikely places as we embark on a yearlong series examining the embattled American rabbinate. I did not expect to receive a deluge of heartfelt responses so compelling that it was difficult to select the 36 profiled here.

And the lesson from these 36, a special number in our tradition, is that American Jews, regardless of denomination, geography or gender, harbor a deep longing for spiritual leadership — and respond to it not only in synagogue, but in classrooms, Hillels and hospices. They yearn for rabbis who touch the soul and create community.

These rabbis offer that kind of leadership. Whether the broader rabbinate can do so may hold the key to the future of the American Jewish community.

View the full list at the Forward, and tell us – who’s the most inspiring rabbi in your life?
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Kate Bigam

About Kate Bigam

Kate Bigam is the URJ's Social Media and Community Manager. Prior to this, she served as a Congregational Representative for the URJ's East District and at the Religious Action Center as Press Secretary and as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Kate is a native of Cuyahoga Falls, OH, and currently resides in Red Bank, N.J.

5 Responses to “Who Are America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis?”

  1. avatar

    Don’t forget Rabbi David Singer, who grew up at Congregation Beth Israel in San Diego, and also studied at HUC-JIR.

  2. avatar

    Mi rabbi Reuben Nisembom, Fundacion Centro de Espiritualidad Judia Mishkan, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  3. avatar

    I wish My Dear Rabbi Amy Bigman of East Lansing, MI USA, were nominated. She is a most dedicated, involved in so many worthwhile causes. She is constantly on the go. My Rabbi never stops. She works around the clock, we do not know how she can keep up but by the will of GOD.

  4. avatar

    The Forward’s article misses
    this point: If one scores the list — the number of votes each rabbi received (most only one) — the result raises questions regarding the Forward’s readership’s involvement or worse, how few actually are inspired by rabbinic leadership.
    Readers should reflect on the rabbi (or Jew), in their view, living or dead, that has positively impacted their Jewish life.
    This situation persists unchanged since I served on the (then) UAHC Commission on Affiliation in the 1990’s; so the truth is that leadership hasn’t lead but millions have been spent. I intend this next point to be positive and appropriate in that context: I’ve developed an approach which I proposed to them, which so far has been ignored.
    1. rabbi ellen-lippmann/ (26 votes)
    2. rabbi lisa-edwards/ (19 votes)
    3. rabbi-jacques-cukierkorn/ (16 votes)
    4. rabbi-elhanan-sunny-schnitzer/ (12 votes)
    5. rabbi-mark-sameth/ (12 votes)
    6. rabbi-brent-spodek/ (7 votes)
    7. rabbi-david-singer/(6 votes)
    8. rabbi-andy-bachman/5 votes
    9. rabbi-amy-r-perlin/ (5 votes)
    10. rabbi-janet-marder/ (3 votes)
    11. rabbi-joshua-lesser/ (2 votes)
    12. rabbi-joseph-potasnik/ (2 votes)
    13. rabbi-shira-stutman/ (2 votes)
    The following have no number of votes indicated, so I assume 1 to make a list of 36:
    14. rabbi-pinchas-allouche/
    15. rabbi-michael-balinsky/
    16. rabbi-bradd-boxman/
    17. patricia-fenton/
    18. rabbi-valerie-cohen/
    19. rabbi-sam-fraint/
    20. rabbi-yisrael-gettinger/
    21. rabbi-elyse-goldstein/
    22. rabbi-felipe-goodman/
    23. rabbi-mark-greenspan/
    24. rabbi-akiva-herzfeld/
    25. rabbi-allan-kensky/
    26. rabbi-harold-j-kravitz/
    27. rabbi-asher-z-lopatin/
    28. rabbi-juan-mejia/
    29. rabbi-adam-mintz/
    30. rabbi-jonathan-omer-man/
    31. rabbi-jonathan-perlman/
    32. rabbi-baruch-plotkin/
    33. rabbi-donny-schwartz/
    34. rabbi-henry-shreibman/
    35. rabbi-rebecca-w-sirbu/
    36. rabbi-yosef-wolvovsky/

  5. avatar

    Rabbi Bradd Boxman of Parkland Florida is an excellent choice. Rabbi Boxman was my Rabbi @ Har Sinat Congrgation in Owings Mills Md before going to FLA and I have deep respect for him and totally agree with his selection forr this honor. Congrats.

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