Newsweek scraps ‘Top 50 Rabbis’ list before print relaunch

( Newsweek said it will stop publishing its “Top 50 Rabbis” list in 2014. The list, which has been published annually since 2007, ranked American Jewish rabbis based on their perceived influence.

A screenshot of Newsweek's “Top 50 Rabbis” list in 2013.

The list was intended as a jest by media executives Michael Lynton and Gary Ginsberg. “[W]e thought: Wouldn’t it be fun, and a little bit mischievous, to put together a list of who these people are and rank order them?” Lynton told the Los Angeles Jewish Journal in 2013.

But Jewish communities across the U.S. started viewing the list seriously, as a true measurement of the Jewish leaders' clout. Some websites launched alternative lists, such as MyJewishLearning's “Top Rabbis” in 2012. Other newspapers, and members of the Jewish community, heavily criticized each year's rankings.

"'The List' started to be over-legitimized. People simply took it too seriously. And opinions grew more virulent and befuddling on both sides," Ginsberg, Lynton, and Jewish writer Abigail Pogrebin wrote in a letter, the Forward reported.

Newsweek canceled its print magazine in 2012. After being purchased by the online news company IBT Media last year, Newsweek will relaunch its print edition in March, without the “Top 50 Rabbis” list.

Posted on February 26, 2014 .