The Forward 50

I just browsed the Forward 50, the Forward’s annual list of 50 influential American Jews. The list gives us many reasons to be proud and a few to be disappointed. Here are my faves.

 

Pride:

At the top of the list, Rabbi Morris Allen, the Conservative Rabbi responsible for the creation of the first heksher dedicated to certifying food as produced under socially and environmentally responsible conditions, the Heksher Tzedek.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, head honcho at J Street, the new Israel lobby in DC. J Street has a leftward bent and in a single year of operation have proved to be an influential part of the inevitable fall of AIPAC’s monopoly in Israel in American politics.

Rabbi David Saperstein has been the director of the Reform movment’s DC lobby, the RAC, for 30 years. In that time, he’s become a prominent religious voice in our country’s politics. This year, he became the first Rabbi, the first non-Christian clergy, to give the invocation at a national party’s convention: Democratic National Convention in Denver.

I met Nigel Savage at Limmud NY this January (register now for Limmud NY 2009 at limmudny.org). He’s the british founder of Hazon, a Jewish food ethics group. He’s also a fantastic teacher, as I found out at Limmud. You’ll notice a foody trend with the list this year.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, another Conservative Rabbi, gets a nod on this year’s list partially for her insistence on the Conservative movement adopting a halachic position in support of a living wage. She’ll be at Limmud NY this year. I’m just saying.

Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is one of the founders of the Hadar phenomenon, including Kehilat Hadar (flagship of the indie minyan movement) and Mechon Hadar (the first liberal, egalitarian yehivah in the US). He was ordained at JTS, but hovers far to their right, but to the left of the OU. I also met him at Limmud NY. He’ll be there again. He alone is reason enough to go.

To continue with the food theme, I’m happy to see Shmarya Rosenberg on the list. Shmarya is yid behind the powerful hareidi whistle-blowing blog Failed Messiah. He blew the top of the continuing abuses at Agriprocessors. He continues to report on the various shenanigans and bullshit going on Postville.

 

Disappointment:

Aaron Rubashkin may have grown his family’s kosher food manufactuirng business into the first name-brand kosher food, but they’ve also gotten into the business of royally fucking a lot of people a lot of the time. Remember the name Agriprocessors from earlier this year? Yeah. That was the Rubashkin family.

5 Responses to The Forward 50

  1. BZ November 17, 2008 at 7:13 pm #

    [Rabbi Elie Kaunfer] was ordained at JTS, but hovers far to their right

    What’s your basis for saying this?! JTS still has a non-egal minyan option, and didn’t accept gay and lesbian rabbinic and cantorial students until last year. What positions of Kaunfer’s could be characterized as to the right of JTS?

    Anyway, I was just happy to see Republicans out of the top five this year, now that their sun is setting.

  2. BZ November 17, 2008 at 7:14 pm #

    [Rabbi Elie Kaunfer] was ordained at JTS, but hovers far to their right

    What’s your basis for saying this?! JTS still has a non-egal minyan option, and didn’t accept gay and lesbian rabbinic and cantorial students until last year. What positions of Kaunfer’s could be characterized as to the right of JTS?

    Anyway, I was just happy to see Republicans out of the top five this year, now that their sun is setting.

  3. davidamwilensky November 17, 2008 at 11:19 pm #

    I guess I don’t know much about the details of JTS ideology in particular, but having davened with and learned with Elie and with his Hadar partner, Ethan Tucker, at Limmud NY in January, I can say with certainty that they hover to the right of The USCJ.

    Sim Shalom has imahot. Elie and Ethan don’t.

  4. BZ November 18, 2008 at 7:16 am #

    I don’t know what Elie and Ethan personally say when they daven, but Hadar (the minyan they founded) allows shelichei tzibbur to choose between the imahot and non-imahot options (like the new Sim Shalom, but unlike many USCJ congregations).

    I think the (significant) differences between Hadar and the Conservative movement can’t be neatly summarized by a left/right label.

  5. Rich November 20, 2008 at 1:25 am #

    Oh come now, Aaron Rubashkin has allowed both Shmarya Rosenberg and Morris Allen to shine.

    Never met Shmarya, though I have exchanged e-mail.

    When I can manage to do a daily minyan, I do it at Rabbi Allen’s shul.