Last year, when Newsweek published its inaugural list of America's 50 most influential rabbis, Jay Sanderson, one of the list's creators, said he was surprised by how much buzz it generated.Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance, again topped the list of influentials. A new category was added this year, though, that ranked top pulpit rabbis, and it too was headlined by an Angeleno: Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple, who at this time seven years ago gave one of the more memorable Passover sermons in a long, long time.
"We had hoped it would be provocative and it would open up conversation about religious leaders in America today," Sanderson said.
But he was shocked at how many newspapers and bloggers -- more than 100 -- picked up the story. Even the Aryan Nation Web site used the list to show how the Jews run Hollywood, he said.
Jews around the country -- including many rabbis -- were talking about who made the list, who didn't make the list, who shouldn't have made the list and what would be a better list.
Sanderson collaborated on the list with News Corp EVP Gary Ginsberg and Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, whose Jewish journey I profiled last fall. Newsweek's got the list up now.