The Forward has just published its annual list of the 50 most influential American Jews. Of course, the first thing that I did was check out the list to see if there's anyone that I know. Can't imagine why, but you never know what my relatives may have been doing over the last year.
Then I started looking over the list. Bassie ShemTov who created the Friendship Circle in Detroit, a model program that promotes inclusion of disabled individuals, assistance to impaired children and their families and generally fostering a new look at how society deals with handicapped people. I certainly see how Bassie is influential and a true role model.
Hindy Poupko-Galena, who chronicled her 2-year-old daughter's fight with cancer, the little girl's death and the positive impact it's hand on cancer research and bone marrow donations. Yes, an influential woman and certainly deserving of the honor.
Rabbi Andy Bachman, a New York Reform rabbi who fought against an anti-Israel divestment campaign at a local food co-op. Yup. Peter Beinart, the anti-israel son-of-a-Mica (my female dog) is influential, even if he's a jerk. Even Sheldon Adelson who practically bought Mitt Romney for umpteen million dollars -- I resent that someone can use their money to buy the presidency (or try), but OK, he (and his money) are pretty influential.
But can someone please tell me why one of the owners of Wise Sons deli in
downtown San Francisco is on the list? Because he's "responsible for bringing serious deli to a city
that long resisted a well-crafted pastrami sandwich?" He's an "influential" Jew? Or Aly Raisman, the teenage gymnast who brought home several gold medals from the Olympics? Hey, I cheered her on as much as anyone...especially when she did one of her sets to Hava Nagila. But ...influential? Scooter Braun, who manages Justin Beiber? I'm sure that he's very talented in what he does, but is the fact that he keeps Justin out there in front of the world's teeny-boppers enough to make him an influential Jew? Lena Dunham, the self-professed "half-Jew" who stars on some TV show or other? Barbara Streisand -- great voice, but influential?
I think that Forward should first, identify what exactly it means when it uses the word "influential." And then make the list. In the meantime, they're lost a lot of my respect.