JTS Alumni Top the Jewish Daily Forward’s 2014 List of “Most Inspiring Rabbis”

The Jewish Theological Seminary is pleased to announce that nearly a third of this year's Jewish Daily Forward list of the "Most Inspiring Rabbis" in the United States are JTS alumni. Nominated by people who know their contributions to the Jewish community well, the winning rabbis are "not just men and women who care about Judaism-they care about Jews," says the Forward's editor-in-chief Jane Eisner. "Despite the worrying mega-trends, our spiritual leaders are connecting with Jews and strengthening communities across America."

Mazal tov to our JTS winners:

Rabbi Jeffrey M. Arnowitz (RS '03), Norfolk, Virginia
"Rabbi Arnowitz saw my pain . . . He was kind, he was caring, and made me feel like I mattered. If saving one life means saving the entire world, as is written in the Talmud, then Rabbi Arnowitz saves universes every day with his intelligent compassion and his love for the Jewish people." –Nominee's Name Withheld 

Rabbi Aviva Fellman (RS '12), Oceanside, New York
"Even rabbis need to have rabbis . . . Rabbi Fellman has brought a new spirit of joy to our congregation, while dealing with two major hurricanes . . . [She] managed to call all 300 families in our synagogue to check in on them. Most of all, Rabbi Fellman has inspired me to be a better rabbi." –Rabbi Mark Greenspan

Rabbi Jeremy M. Fine (DS '11, RS '12), Temple of Aaron | Saint Paul, Minnesota
"[Temple of Aaron] . . . is now lively, welcoming, warm, and meaningful. Rabbi Fine will use anything that is legal, moral, and Jewish to attract new, young congregants: sports, parties, creative education, even [the] mention of God and Halachah. He has doubled the size of the Shabbat morning minyan. And he is just getting started." –Bill Gavzy

Rabbi Rachel Isaacs (RS '11), Beth Israel Congregation; Colby College | Waterville, Maine "We were accepted [into JTS's Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows program] and gratefully matched with Rabbi Rachel Isaacs . . . Together [with Colby College,] we have been able to have the profound experience of having a big-time, brilliant, kind, funny, devoted rabbi that any shul in the country would fight over. Our membership is up! Colby Hillel is thriving!" –Tiffany Lopes  

Rabbi Benay Lappe (RS 97), SVARA | Chicago, Illinois
"Rabbi Benay Lappe has provided her students and the entire Jewish community with the opportunity to see that Judaism is smarter, more radical, and sexier than we ever imagined." –Mary Otts   

Rabbi Jesse Olitzky (RS '11, DS '11, LC '06), Jacksonville, Florida
"We didn't have the money to join a synagogue. Thus we were left without options and felt excluded by the Jewish community . . . In the end, Rabbi Olitzky was able to stand with us under the chuppah . . . [He] welcomed us to Jacksonville's Jewish community in a way no one else was willing to." –Marc Berkovits  

Rabbi Debra R. Orenstein (RS '90), Emerson, New Jersey
"How is she amazing? Let me count (just a few of) the ways: The congregation holds 'theme Shabbats' . . . She also writes on topics important to the Jewish community, such as the Jewish lifecycle for women . . . She is exactly what you want and expect from a rabbi . . . ." –Kerry Salkin

Rabbi Harold S. White (RS '59), Washington DC
He provides our community with intellectual rigor, compassion, and thirst for social justice. He transmits the stories of his own teachers—Heschel, Buber, Kaplan, and his fellow chaplains (Catholic and Muslim) at Georgetown University. He's 81; he has been way ahead of his time for his entire career."Susan Katz Miller