Rabbi Marc Schneier, who hobnobs with hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, didn’t make the cut. Neither did Dovi Scheiner of the relentlessly hipster Soho Synagogue. And as for the rabbi who penned “Kosher Sex,” was the guru to Michael Jackson and who recently landed in The New Yorker’s Talk of the Town column — no, not even Shmuley Boteach made the list.
Not Newsweek’s annual list of America’s 50 most influential rabbis. Please. That’s so yesterday.
No, we’re talking about “New York’s Hippest Rabbis,” the four spiritual leaders (spanning four denominations) profiled this week in Metro Focus, a new online magazine produced by PBS affiliate Channel 13.
The four who “will lead a flock to the gates of repentance” during the Days of Awe yet “still manage to stay ‘too cool for shul?’”: Amichai Lau-Lavie (not technically a rabbi) of Storahtelling, which holds High Holy Days services at Soho’s City Winery; Rabbi Jen Krause of the Upper East Side’s 92nd Street Y; Darby Jared Leigh of the New Shul in the West Village; and Simcha Weinstein of the Rohr Center, a Chabad House in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill.
The Israel-born Lau-Lavie is a first-year rabbinical student at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, but has been running the “ritual theater” group Storahtelling since founding it 13 years ago.
Ordained through Reform’s Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Krause, according to Metro Focus, is known for “gigs as an interviewer and guest-host about town,” including onstage interviews with Leonard Nimoy, Danny Meyer and Elie Wiesel. Her services will apparently include a Jimi Hendrix electric guitar version of Avinu Malkeinu, as well as U2’s “All I Want is You.”
As for Rabbi Leigh, he is a heavy metal buff, snowboarding enthusiast and Reconstructionist, while Rabbi Weinstein is a baal teshuvah, comic book “zealot” and author of “Up, Up and Oy Vey: How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero.”
Asked how he feels about being deemed “hip,” Lau-Lavie, whose City Winery services attract more than 500 per service, told The Jewish Week, he prefers to describe his approach as “contemporary and authentic,” because “hip comes and goes.”
“If hip means appealing and out of the box, then I’m very happy and flattered to be out of the box,” he added.
What’s next in the endless list-athon: New York’s Hottest Rabbis?