Rabbi Asher Lopatin, spiritual leader of Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation in Chicago, was named in April on Newsweek's list of the 50 most influential American rabbis. Lopatin, who leads the Modern Orthodox synagogue of which Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a longtime member, mixes his Yeshiva University education with a Masters in Philosophy in medieval Arabic thought from Oxford University, earned while on a Rhodes Fellowship.
Lopatin writes about hot topics like feminism, conversion, and the Arab Spring for Morethodoxy, a liberal Orthodox blog. Recently, he traveled on an interfaith tour to Jakarta, Dubai, Amman, and Jerusalem.
"All rabbis deserve publicity and credit for their day to day accomplishments, and certainly many, many rabbis deserve it much more than me! I hope that this Newsweek list of 50 rabbis helps remind the world-and rabbis themselves-that people are interested in what they do and that their actions have impact-even if they are frequently not noticed sufficiently," Lopatin said.
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.
Rabbi David Wolpe, of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a popular author and public speaker, topped the list of rabbis. 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.