The site picked six men and four women, all but three U.S.-based, for the inaugural honor out of more than 150 nominees sent by “students, congregants, community members and families all over the world,” Jewrotica said.
Jewrotica founder Ayo Oppenheimer in October said she would change the title of the list to Hottest Rabbis in response to criticism about judging people by their appearance. She told the Times of Israel “We’re not at all looking at physical looks. It has nothing to do with measurements or six-packs. There is so much more than that that makes someone attractive.”
But David Abitbol, one of the judges and an Israel-based contributor and webmaster for Jewrotica, said a name change was never seriously considered. “We were just taking the piss out of people who complained,” he said.
Abitbol, who is also a founder of the website Jewlicious, said in an phone interview Tuesday the list was “Unequivocally not about sexy as people conventionally understand the term. For us, it’s a euphemism for attractive, compelling and inspiring.”
The cross-denomonational list is not ranked, meaning that each person is considered equally sexy. The rabbis selected are:
- Josh Yuter, spiritual leader of the Stanton Street Synagogue in Manhattan;
- David Dunn Bauer, director of social action programs, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in Manhattan;
- Susan Silverman, Women of the Wall activist and Jerusalem-based author;
- Jill Hammer, PhD, founder of Kohenet, the Jewish Priestess Institute in Connecticut;
- Benay Lappe, founder of Svara, a Chicago yeshiva “committed to the Queer experience;”
- Yonah Bookstein, co-founder of the Jewlicious Festival and Pico Shul in Los Angeles;
- Dan Shevitz of Congregation Mishkon Tephilo in Venice, Calif.;
- Aviad Bodner of Moishe House in Tel Aviv;
- Lizzie Heydmann, founder of Mishkon in Chicago;
- Yonatan Gordis, a founder and strategist at ChangeCraft who lives in Canada.
Jewrotica also included 19 other rabbis for “People’s Choice” voting online. Oppenheimer said in her introduction that the nominations “spanned age, gender, country, ethnicity, relationship status and denomination, with a roughly even number of rabbis nominated from each ‘stream of Judaism’ and an approximately 60-40 divide between male and female rabbis.”
Rabbi Hammer, who is 44, married to musician Shoshana Jedwab, and the mother of a five-year-old daughter said she appreciated the “playful intent” of the list.
She told The Jewish Week she became aware that she had been nominated only the day before the winners were announced via a post on Facebook. Her nomination came from a student at Kohenet.
“I am surprised and of course flattered, but as a shy person I’m also embarassed,” Rabbi Hammer said.
She added that while she was uncomfortable with ranking people, “I appreciate the intent to start a conversation about what is erotic and spiritual, and the wide definition [of sexy] used by the [selection] committee.”
Abitbol said the site would likely make the list an annual year-end feature. While he said it was “hard work” sorting through the nominations, the site’s staff “had fun doing it. We all learned something new from going through the research.”