David Wolpe Leads Top 50 Rabbis’ List


Rabbi David Wolpe, who heads the largest Conservative synagogue west of the Mississippi, made his debut atop Newsweek’s list of the 50 most influential American rabbis.

Wolpe, of Sinai Temple in Beverly Hills, Calif., moved up from No. 2 a year ago on the 2012 list, which was released Monday. He swapped spots with Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, the chairman of Chabad-Lubavitch's educational and social services network, who was No. 1 on the last two lists.

Two Reform rabbis were next: Peter Rubinstein, senior rabbi of New York’s historic Central Synagogue, and David Saperstein, head of the Reform movement's Religious Action Center, were No. 3 and 4. Saperstein held the top spot in 2009. Conservative Rabbi Sharon Brous, head of the IKAR community in Los Angeles, rose from 10th last year to become the first female to crack the top 5.

Among the criteria used to determine America's top 50 rabbis were their impact on Judaism and beyond the Jewish community; the size of their constituencies; their social/political influence; and their media presence, Abigail Pogrebin wrote in Newsweek's sister publication, The Daily Beast.

Pogrebin, along with Gary Ginsberg, executive vice president of Time Warner Inc., and Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Corp., selected this year's list. The first list appeared in 2007.