In a Passover tradition anticipated almost as highly as Mom’s matzah ball soup, Newsweek, the Daily Beast and the Forward have issued their annual “best rabbis” lists. Together they represent a healthy serving of the Bay Area’s best and brightest.
Newsweek’s list of 50 leaders focused on “the most influential rabbis in America,” according to the publication, those whose “ideas are shaping the Jewish landscape.”
Rabbi Menachem Creditor, 37, of Berkeley’s Congregation Netivot Shalom, was singled out as “one of the most outspoken, activist rabbis” in the country for his work on a number of progressive causes. He co-founded Keshet Rabbis, a network of gay-friendly Conservative rabbis, as well as Shefa Network: The Conservative/ Masorti Movement Dreaming from Within. He also serves as international co-chair of Rabbis for Women of the Wall.
Recently he has been a vocal advocate for gun control, editing the anthology “Peace in Our Cities: Rabbis Against Gun Violence” after traveling to Washington, D.C., to meet with Vice President Joe Biden’s staff as a part of a rabbinic delegation to discuss stiffer firearms restrictions in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Conn.
“I’m humbled,” said Creditor of the recognition. “It’s an honor to be in the company of such incredible colleagues, and to know that the work I do on a daily basis means something both to the established Jewish community and beyond that.”
Creditor said he hopes to “leverage” the attention to strengthen his work in the faith-based community in response to gun violence.
The Daily Beast, which merged with Newsweek last year, also published a list of 10 “rabbis to watch” in 2013. It included Noa Kushner, 42, founder of The Kitchen, which bills itself as “one part indie Shabbat community, one part San Francisco experiment, and one part tool kit for DIY Jewish practice.”
Under Kushner’s leadership, the almost 2-year-old group has become popular with unaffiliated Jews for its “irreverently reverent” take on worship. Previously, the rabbi launched innovative young adult events at Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael.
The Forward’s list of 36 leaders, called “America’s most inspiring rabbis,” included three local names.
Rabbi Janet Marder, 58, of Los Altos Hills’ Congregation Beth Am, was recognized for her energetic leadership and work with interfaith couples, the LGBT community, émigrés, veterans and people with disabilities. Marder was the first female president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and in 1983 became the first ordained rabbi of Los Angeles’ Beth Chayim Chadashim, the world’s first LGBT synagogue recognized by Reform Judaism.
Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man, 79, an independent rabbi based in Berkeley, was singled out by those he has counseled for his approach to healing, Kabbalah and Jewish meditation. He is the founder of Metivta, a center for “contemplative Judaism,” and helped found the Institute for Jewish Spirituality in New York, where he also served on the faculty.
Rabbi Henry Shreibman, 61, a popular professor of religion and philosophy at Dominican University of California in San Rafael, was noted for his 25-year career as a Jewish educator, shaping the religious studies programs at Sonoma State University (where he launched the Jewish Studies minor) and U.C. Davis before moving to Dominican.
Previously, he was head of school for 13 years at Brandeis Hillel Day School; in 2000 he received the Professional Executive of the Year Award from the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.