By Yehuda Ceitlin, Editor of COLlive.com
While some in Chabad may have questioned their choices in previous years, this year’s list may have caused even more surprise. Jewish-American weekly The Forward didn’t include any Chabad-Lubavitch figures in its current “most influential” list.
The annual Forward 50, a list of the most influential Jewish-Americans in the past year, was published this month with a new category to include the infamous Bernard Madoff and Solomon Dwek.
Their top picks were incoming president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America Jerry Silverman and Israel’s right-wing ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.
But, unlike past years, there was no mention of Chabad-Lubavitch.
The 2006 list included Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, then 73, in the religion category, describing him as “more CEO than guru, he runs the empire with a quiet but firm hand.”
“A dozen years after the death of its charismatic leader, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidism still has no new rebbe to guide it, and yet the movement continues to expand worldwide, the most dynamic, fastest-growing wing of Judaism,” it noted.
In 2007 the Forward chose Head Shliach to the West Coast, Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, then 67, as the Lubavitch point man.
“Cunin early on established a reputation as an innovator with a knack for translating lofty goals into practical reality,” it said. “With his legions growing by the day, Cunin’s far-reaching influence is only poised to expand.”
Then in 2008 it was Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky‘s turn. The vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, 59 at the time, was said to be “doling out millions to the field from a donor-funded foundation he controls.”
“One of Chabad’s most visible public faces, he travels tirelessly to address gatherings worldwide and presides genially over the massive annual shluchim convention in New York,” they wrote.
Asked by COLlive.com about the absence of Lubavitchers in the 2009 list, Editor Jane Eisner wrote: “We made no conscious decision to exclude a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi or official; we just didn’t think of anyone who fit the criteria for this year.”
On whether the Rebbe himself could have been included, Eisner answered: “Our standard is to only include people who are alive.”
“Certainly the movement is having an impact on Jewish life in America and globally,” she said, and added that the newspaper will cover the Mumbai impact “in the coming weeks and months.”
Read the full list – HERE