Monday, April 14, 2008

I Didn't Make the List. And We Don't Have a Pope

For all of you out there who think that I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread, I have bad news for you: Newsweek has once again served me a thick slice of humble pie. For the second year running, I did not make Newsweek's list of the fifty most influential rabbis in America. Even more frustrating, nor did I make the new list of the top 25 pulpit rabbis in America. (my good friend Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Congregation Anshe Shalom in Chicago did make it, right below Amy Schwartzman of Virginia and Terry Bookman of Florida. Kudos to him.) I admit it: I'm bitter. What can I do to improve my rankings for next year? Clearly blogging isn't the answer. Nor is teaching Torah, giving drashos, or ministering to my members. I obviously need to be flashier, generate more publicity, and probably be considerably more liberal, judging from the people that did make the list.
In any case, this list - and the Catholic Pope's upcoming visit to America got me thinking about whether we'd be better off if we really had a chief rabbi that represented Judaism, if not Orthodoxy. Whether people like him or not, agree with him or not, they get really excited when the pope shows up. They consider it a religiously invigorating event. Granted, the chief Rabbis of Israel do exist, but they fill political posts, subject to the whims and wishes of power players in Israel.
What if we had someone who had the ability to unite -- and speak for - the American Jewish population, the way the Chief Rabbi does in England, eloquently, passionately and powerfully. Would that not be a kiddush Hashem for the Jewish people, and advance the cause of Torah Judaism?
At least then we'd know who was on the top of our list.