Newsweek and the Daily Beast have their America’s Top 50 Rabbis, The Forward has its annual list of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis and even My Jewish Learning took a stab at it with America’s Real Top Rabbis. These lists that attempt to definitively rank Rabbis are wildly popular, based on the amount of traffic, attention and commentary they generate. But they are also problematic in that they tend to leave out a whole bunch of Rabbis who do spectacular and holy work but aren’t as well known. The Newsweek list for instance, tends to favor Rabbis with large constituencies based on either the East or the West Coasts, or Rabbis who by virtue of what they do, need to voraciously seek national visibility and attention. As such these lists are both oft quoted and widely reviled.
And now we are presented with a new player in the field, namely Jewrotica. Jewrotica is a barely one year old web site that explores the congruence between sex and Judaism. I myself am somewhat involved in this project, having designed the Web site, written some content and acted as a general sounding board for Jewrotica’s editor, ROI alum Ayo Oppenheimer. I’m involved primarily because I’m concerned about the Christian/Puritan standards and norms regarding sexuality that seem to be slowly creeping into Judaism. These standards are not authentically Jewish and reflect norms and values that are truly foreign – for instance, in Beitar Illit, there’s a female underwear modesty squad. Seriously? Does God really care about women’s underwear?
But I digress. Jewrotica is now seeking nominations for America’s Sexiest Rabbis. The title may be a tongue in cheek dig at the other lists but the criteria are quite serious!
“The Smarts” = You gotta respect the rabbis who can school you in a battle of wits, the ones that wow you with their intellectual chops but have the presence to keep you awake during the sermon. Send the brainy ones our way.
“Getting Some Action” = Any rabbi can open a Torah or Talmud (hopefully), but who are the rabbis that are taking action? Whether through Jewish outreach or social justice activism, if you want your rabbi to make this list, you got to show us a little action.
“Badass Factor / Sex Appeal” = Your rabbi rides a motorcycle? Plays jazz? Leads silent meditations and retreats? Or maybe your rabbi is so irresistibly sexy that you haven’t missed a Shabbat service yet this year? Yeah, that’s the one we want.
As you can see, the criteria have little to do with conventional notions of sexiness. Rabbis will not be assessed on the basis of their physical attractiveness. Jewrotica is looking for those Rabbis that the other lists missed, those Rabbis and, in a nod to the realities of Orthodox community service, Rabbinic couples, who work tirelessly on behalf of their constituents and do so in a manner that is innovative, creative, inspiring and edifying. Rabbis and Rebbetzins whose work with their communities, both large and small, can serve as an inspiration to others. If you know anyone like that, please by all means feel free to read the original post and send a nomination!
And before you get offended, re-read this post and then point me to a Jewish Web site that attracts a broad Jewish audience and contains more Jewish, religious references than Jewrotica. Go ahead. I’ll wait.