Mazel tov to the 36 individuals – including 10 Reform rabbis – included in the Jewish Daily Forward recently released list of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis. The list includes 36 rabbis who, editor Jane Eisner says, are “shaping 21st-century Judaism.” Among them are following Reform rabbis, all nominated by their congregants and others with whom they work:
- Rabbi Andy Bachman (Congregation Beth Elohim, Brooklyn, NY)
- Rabbi Bradd Boxman (Temple Kol Tikvah, Parkland, FL)
- Rabbi Valerie Cohen (Beth Israel Congregation, Jackson, MS)
- Rabbi Jacueques Cukierkorn (Temple Israel of Greater Kansas City, Prairie Village, KS)
- Rabbi Lisa Edwards (Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim, Los Angeles, CA)
- Rabbi Elyse Goldstein (City Shul, Toronto, Ontario)
- Rabbi Ellen Lippmann (Kolot Chayenu/Voice of Our Lives, Brooklyn, NY)
- Rabbi Janet Marder (Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, CA)
- Rabbi Amy Perlin (Temple B’nai Shalom, Fairfax Station, VA)
- Rabbi Mark Sameth (Pleasantville Community Synagogue, Pleasantville, NY)
Of the list and its nomination process, Eisner writes,
The rabbis profiled on these pages, and the hundreds more suggested by Forward readers, teach us a profound lesson about the yearnings of American Jews at this fraught moment in time.
I didn’t expect such a lesson. When we initiated this project, I hoped to engage readers and hear stories about rabbis in unlikely places as we embark on a yearlong series examining the embattled American rabbinate. I did not expect to receive a deluge of heartfelt responses so compelling that it was difficult to select the 36 profiled here.
And the lesson from these 36, a special number in our tradition, is that American Jews, regardless of denomination, geography or gender, harbor a deep longing for spiritual leadership — and respond to it not only in synagogue, but in classrooms, Hillels and hospices. They yearn for rabbis who touch the soul and create community.
These rabbis offer that kind of leadership. Whether the broader rabbinate can do so may hold the key to the future of the American Jewish community.