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(RNS) An Orthodox Jewish woman is one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America this year, reflecting a major shift in the magazine’s fourth-annual compilation of top Jewish leaders.
Sara Hurwitz, who debuts at No. 36, made headlines when Rabbi Avi Weiss (No. 18) of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, N.Y., granted her the controversial title of “rabba.” Although Newsweek calls her “the first Orthodox woman rabbi ordained in the United States,” the Orthodox movement does not ordain women.
Hurwitz is one of seven newcomers to the list this year. Two of the others are affiliated with Conservative Jewish efforts to create a certification standard for ethical kosher food: Morris Allen (No. 10), program director for Magen Tzedek, the ethical kosher seal; and Michael Siegel (No. 32), co-chair of the Hekhsher Tzedek Commission.
She is also among just six women, ranging from Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus (No. 17), president of the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, to Jill Jacobs (No. 49), the rabbi in residence at Jewish Funds for Justice, a nonprofit organization.
Most of the others on the list reflect a slight reshuffling of previous rankings. This year’s top rabbi, Yehuda Krinsky, leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, was in fourth place last year. Both rabbis who have previously led the list remain close behind: David Saperstein, a former member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, is in fifth place; Marvin Hier, founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, is now in third after leading the list in 2007 and 2008.
The “unscientific” ranking system, created by Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton and Time Warner executive vice president Gary Ginsberg, is admittedly “mischievous in its conception,” scoring rabbis on international connections, political influence and significant constituencies.
— Nicole Neroulias
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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