Announcing Jewrotica’s Sexiest Rabbis of 2014

2014

Rated PGWelcome to Jewrotica’s 2nd annual Sexiest Rabbis list. Building on the success of last year’s list, we attempted, with the help of our erstwhile readership, to find Rabbis who were doing awesome things, Rabbis who moved you with their wisdom, inspired you with their activism or their sincere desire to make the world a better place. Rabbis with “oomph!” As always, physical attractiveness was not a criteria – we do not use the term “sexy” in its literal sense. It would also be important to add that none of the Rabbis selected were advised in advance of their nomination and their inclusion in this list is not meant to imply that they in any way shape or form approve of or condone Jewrotica and its mission.

Now that the legalese is out of the way, it’s safe to say that our selection team had a great time going through all the nominations. Our final selection is presented in random order and isn’t meant to be definitive or comprehensive. It is actually meant to urge you to look around and find your own inspiring Rabbi. Maybe you will find him or her here, maybe in your own neck of the woods or maybe halfway around the world. The point is that there are many Rabbis out there doing awesome things worthy of our notice and attention.

Without further ado we are pleased to present Jewrotica’s Sexiest Rabbis of 2014!

Click on the + for details

Rabbi Mottle Wolfe
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Rabbi Mottle Wolfe is where it’s at when it comes to Rabbi-hosted podcasts! As host of “The Mottle Wolfe Show” on the Voice of Israel and co-host (along with his wife!) of “Stuff Jews Should Know,” the #1 Judaism podcast on iTunes, Rabbi Wolfe brings Jewish knowledge and teachings all up in the interwebs, speaking about tradition and current events with conviction and passion. Rabbi Wolfe is known for thinking “outside the Torah” during his radio shows and as a senior lecturer for the Isralight Institute. As his fans say, he’s a “…teacher, a change maker and a public figure making his mark on this generation.” A native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Rabbi Wolfe now lives with his family in Teko’a, near Jerusalem.

Rabbi Ronnie Cahana
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Rabbi Cahana appeared in our inaugural Sexiest Rabbis list as a People’s Choice winner in the category of “Delicious Dvar Torah.” In 2011, Rabbi Cahana was the Rabbinic leader of Montreal’s Congregation Beth-El when he suffered a brain-stem stroke that left him in an incomplete locked-in state. What that means is that he was mostly physically immobile while remaining completely mentally astute. Through a combination of blinking and mouthing Rabbi Cahana began to communicate weekly divrei torah and other messages, letter by letter, blink by blink via his Web site and blog. He has since regained his ability to speak and breathe on his own and makes slow but steady progress. In 2014 he wrote a total of 22 blog posts made up of commentary, dvar Torahs, poetry and more. He remains a quadriplegic but we are pleased to note that he has resumed his active participation in the life of his synagogue where it was noted that “His indomitable will and his remarkable courage continue to serve as an inspiration, not only to synagogue members, but to the whole Montreal community. He is our model of inspired faith.”

Rabbi Cahana’s courage and faith is indeed inspirational, but said inspiration has definitely extended beyond the Montreal Jewish Community thanks to a TED talk given by his daughter Kitra which has been viewed nearly 1 million times. We are proud to include Ronnie in our list this year, humbled by his presence and inspired by his faith and energy.

Rabbi Barbara Penzner
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Wherein does Rabbi Penzner’s Sexy Rabbi Appeal lie? Is it in her commitment to the Reconstructionist community, which led her to serve as President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Assocation?

Is it in her role in the launch of Mayyim Hayyim, a mikveh reinvented for the 21st century and available for use by any and all Jews looking to celebrate their personal milestones? Since its opening in 2004, Mayyim Hayyim has become a veritable, ah… whirlpool of exciting mikvah-related activities. It hosts 1400 immersions a year, monthly education programs, art exhibits and original films, and offers national consultation services.

Is it her tireless efforts in the areas of worker rights? Her involvement in interfaith initiatives? LGBT rights? Black-Jewish relations? Muslim-Jewish relations? Is it her personable manner of speaking and interacting with others? Or perhaps it’s a combination of all of the above?

Rabbi Penzner is a well-known figure in the Boston area. In 2012, she gave the benediction at Boston Mayor Menino’s 19th State of the City address—the first rabbi to do so. She also often works her beloved Boston Red Sox into her Divrei Torahs.

Whatever it is that makes Rabbi Penzner stand out as one of Jewrotica’s Sexiest Rabbis of 2014, all we know is we’re big fans. You can follow Rabbi Penzer on her Rabbarbara blog.

Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn
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Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn is a true Renaissance Man. He’s done all the usual Rabbi things – interning at the Lincoln Square Synagogue; serving as Head Rabbi of Kehilat Chovevei Tzion – a vibrant young synagogue in Scarsdale, New York; serving as Director of Education for the New Jersey NCSY Junior Division, and teaching at the Marsha Stern Talmudic Academy (MTA). But on top of all that, he released a well received Jewish New Age record, on which he wrote, sang, and played guitar – called KLI, in 2000 – give it a listen: we were for real impressed. He is an author, an educator and the creator of the “Simcha Seminar,” which has delighted, amused, and taught Jews nationwide to apply Jewishly inspired self-help ideals to their daily lives. His eclectic experiences and diverse scope of activities make him a dynamic addition to the national Rabbinic community. Currently, he is the Creator and Director of WINGS, a Synagogue Consulting group for the Orthodox Union. He is also the Dean and Rav of Yeshivat Yavneh in Los Angeles. He lives in LA with his wife Shira and their five children.

We got dizzy just looking at this list of activities. Is there anything Rabbi Einhorn CAN’T do?

Rabbi Judith HaLevy
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Rabbi Judith Halevy certainly has an impressive cv – She has advanced degrees in International Relations from both Rutgers and Columbia Universities. These led her to work in international education in places as diverse as Mexico City and Tel Aviv. In New Mexico she was the director of the Taos Arts Association for 10 years, and in that capacity served on the Board of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1988 to 1992. In 1992 she became an ordained Rabbi, later moving to Los Angeles where she co-founded Metiva, a Center for Jewish Spirituality, and Sarah’s Tent, a community based on Judaism and creativity. In 1996 she became the spiritual leader of the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue. Rabbi HaLevy has been a member of the executive committee of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California since 2002 and is immediate past president, after previously serving as president from 2011 to 2013. She is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, having completed three years of intensive study in the Rabbinic Leadership program in 2010.

Like, “Wow!” right? But then there’s more! Her “Challenging Torah” talks on YouTube are myriad and multitudinous, demonstrating a dramatic flair and a deep well of knowledge and wisdom. Rabbi Halevy has traveled and taught across the globe, inspiring people with her divrei torah, her singing and dancing, and as one nominator remarked, her “heartbreaker’s eyes.” She seems like a natural for our list!

Rabbi Paul Steinberg
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Rabbi Paul Steinberg embodies the spirit of The Solomon Effect (Does your rabbi woo you with words of wisdom, his sermons always leaving you wanting more? Do her maneuvers with the words of this week’s parshah fill you with the desire to open a Torah scroll?), using his own story to call attention to the issue and prevalence of serious addiction in the Jewish community, and inspiring Jews to use spirituality in defeating their dependencies. Rabbi Steinberg is the author of “Recovery, the 12 Steps, and Jewish Spirituality: Reclaiming Hope, Courage and Wholeness,” in which he encourages his readers to combine Jewish values with the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous to create spiritual remedies when battling addiction. This book is especially compelling given that Rabbi Steinberg bases the book on his own successful battle against alcohol addiction. He currently works as an educator and spiritual counselor at Beit T’Shuvah, an acclaimed addiction treatment center and synagogue community in West Los Angeles. His words have motivated countless members of the Jewish community on their journeys to recovery and self-empowerment. We are so proud to have him on our list!

Rabbi Sharon Brous
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There must be something in the water in Los Angeles — we can’t keep our eyes off of Rabbi Sharon Brous of IKAR! Though she grew up without a deep connection to religion, Rabbi Brous has devoted her life to helping the disaffected rediscover Judaism, and find new meaning in ritual – just like she did! Rabbi Brous’ spontaneous decision to attend rabbinical school has resulted in the creation of IKAR, which has become more than merely a synagogue; it’s described as a “laboratory for bold, imaginative Jewish practice.” Rabbi Brous’ Oomph Factor is visible to all, as she works to help other Jews find their love of Judaism.

Rabbi Brous’ influence is felt nationwide. In 2013, she was asked to bless President Obama and Vice President Biden at the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service where she invoked the “God of Love” and prayed for help to “…widen the boundaries of our hearts.” She is on the faculty of the Hartman Institute-North America, Wexner Heritage Program and REBOOT, and serves on the International Council of the New Israel Fund and the rabbinic advisory council to American Jewish World Service and Bend the Arc. We’re not the only ones enamored by Rabbi Brous – she has received the Lives of Commitment Award from Auburn Theological Seminary, was a JWI Woman to Watch, and was the first recipient of the Inspired Leadership Award from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. In 2013, Newsweek and the Daily Beast named her the most influential rabbi in the United States! We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Rabbi Brous’ many accomplishments and the tremendous impact she’s had on the Jewish community than to name her one of Jewrotica’s Sexiest Rabbis of 2014.

I know, I know. Our list was designed to sort of poke fun at the other lists, specifically Newsweek’s. But what can we do? Rabbi Brous is unequivocally awesome and she was nominated, so there you go. If you think she is too well known then please, by all means, let us in on your alt-Rabbi in the comments section. Let us know who the next Rabbi Brous is. That’ll teach us.

Rabbi Mark S. Golub
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Rabbi Mark S. Golub, or just “Mark” as he is known by his congregants, has been the Rabbi at Chavurah Aytz Chayim in Stamford, CT since the synagogue’s inception in 1971. In that role, he is a beloved community leader, spiritual leader and educator. His longevity at that pulpit reflects both his sincere love of his congregants and the positive multi-generational impact Rabbi Golub has had on his community. If this was the sum total of Rabbi Golub’s contribution to the Jewish world, dayenu, it would have been enough.

But no. Rabbi Golub is also the founder of RTN – the Russian Television Network of America which serves the needs of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union and the CEO / President of JBS – the Jewish Broadcasting Service, (formerly Shalom TV), a non-denominational national Jewish network that reflects the vibrant and vital international Jewish community that it serves. Rabbi Golub also hosts “L’Chayim,” a televised program that has featured a veritable Who’s Who of the Jewish world. As such, Rabbi Golub’s influence has gone far beyond the small but otherwise active Jewish community that he leads. It’s no wonder that he was featured by Newsweek as one of the most influential Rabbis in the US and that he has been honored by the JNF and received an honorary Doctorate from Hebrew Union College. That having been said, we’re pretty sure that his inclusion in our Sexy Rabbis of 2014 list is the one of his many honors he’s going to be most proud of.

Rabbi Jordie Gerson
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Yes. Rabbi Jordie Gerson is, without a doubt, conventionally attractive. And yes, in certain contexts, the objectification of Rabbis, particularly female Rabbis, is an issue. We can’t ignore that. Happily, and for the purposes of this list, Rabbi Gerson has some serious and compelling substance backing up our decision to include her in this year’s list. Her inclusion is in fact rather obvious.

She has worked as a Hillel campus rabbi at Yale and at the University of Vermont. She’s a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and received her ordination from Hebrew Union College. She has written on a variety of Jewish issues for the Huffington Post, MyJewishLearning, Jewcy and more. Rabbi Gerson’s ability to speak to our generation has made her one of our favorite on the list. Her writings are topical, fun and poignant, whether she’s commenting on current affairs, reminding us to treasure our synagogues and embrace Jewish tradition, or pointing out to Hollywood that not all rabbis look like Topol. The only negative we can say is that we wish she’d write more! Rabbi Gerson currently serves as the Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in San Diego, California. There she is involved in a wide range of activities that enrich the spiritual lives of her congregants.

Rabbi Zvi Drizin
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Rabbi Zvi Drizin is the founder of TIC -The Intown Chabad of Dallas, TX. TIC seeks to serve the post-college, pre-kids Jewish community of Dallas – and it’s a tough crowd! This cohort is very busy trying to establish their careers while remaining on the lookout for that special someone with whom they can start a family. Attending to their spiritual needs, Rabbi Drizin possesses creativity, passion, unlimited energy and a commitment to innovation. Couple that with his embodiment of the Chabad ethos of love and respect for all Jews regardless of their background, and you begin to get an idea of how and why TIC’s programs are so successful and what possessed his constituents to nominate him for this list.

TIC is noteworthy because it was the first Chabad House to focus intensely on the needs of post-college, pre-kids young Jews. Now there are over 10 cities in North America that are served by similar young adult Chabad Houses and Zvi hopes to facilitate the opening of similar centers around the world. Rabbi Drizin, who is a 2012 ROI alum also enjoys music, skiing, meeting new people and spending time with his family. He would also be the first to admit that none of TIC’s success would be possible without the presence and guidance of his wife Aidy, the organization’s official Chief Relationship Officer.

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