How we made our se­lec­tion

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPECIAL REPORT - BY BEN RICH

TWO JEWS, three opin­ions. It is, there­fore, hardly sur­pris­ing that the de­lib­er­a­tions of this year’s Power 100 panel have pro­duced markedly dif­fer­ent re­sults to 2007.

As one of four con­stants among the 2008 panel, I found the new judges to be more ad­mir­ing of com­mu­nity pro­fes­sion­als than their pre­de­ces­sors and per­haps more tra­di­tional in their as­sess­ment of what con­sti­tutes power.

So while last year Sacha Baron Co­hen and David Bad­diel fig­ured as celebrity names who shape pub­lic per­cep­tions of whatit­meansto­beJewish,thisyear’spanel dis­missed the cul­tural power of me­dia favourites such as Avram Grant and Amy Wine­house — the lat­ter, as one judge put it, be­ing more “un­der the” in­flu­ence. So what cri­te­ria did we ap­ply? From the out­set, we were clear we were not re­ward­ing long ser­vice or gen­eral do-good­ing. There are thou­sand of men­shes across the com­mu­nity who do their jobs and a lot, lot more with­out set­ting a new agenda or, dare I say it, chang­ing much along the way.

This panel was con­cerned with those with a vi­sion for Jewish life in this coun­try and who did their ut­most to bring it about us­ing ei­ther money; per­sua­sion; re­li­gion; cul­ture; po­lit­i­cal or so­cial lead­er­ship; or sim­ply in­spir­ing through word and deed.

As­sess­ing the bal­ance be­tween each of th­ese facets of power and in­flu­ence has been nec­es­sar­ily sub­jec­tive. Hence you will find rab­bis, ed­u­ca­tion­ists, politi­cians, phi­lan­thropists and cul­ture lead­ers scat­tered through­out our list.

To fig­ure in the top 20, we gen­er­ally felt it was nec­es­sary to demon­strate — at least to the panel’s sat­is­fac­tion — in­flu­ence across more than one of th­ese spheres. The Chief Rabbi seemed, once again, to com­pete on all fronts, and to present the most prom­i­nent and im­pact­ful “face of Ju­daism” to the out­side world, whether we liked it or not.

As for the phi­lan­thropists who ap­pear at two, three and four, they seemed not sim­ply­to­be­giv­ing­money­to­com­mu­nity projects but pro­mot­ing a clear and con- sis­tent pur­pose which they brought to bearon­aw­iderange­o­for­gan­i­sa­tion­sand ini­tia­tives. Among them, we felt that the youngest, Trevor Pears (3), had per­haps the clear­est and most in­no­va­tive agenda, but­for­sheer­breadthof­reachGer­aldRon­son­nar­rowlyshad­ed­sec­ondspot.

Yet whereas the top five had a familiar ring, there were 47 new en­trants in this year’s Power 100. In­creased rep­re­sen­ta­tion from the Charedi com­mu­nity headed by Rabbi Avra­ham Pin­ter (8) re­flects both its grow­ing in­flu­ence and the in­creased ex­per­tise of the panel in this area. The same might be said of the Manch­ester com­mu­nity, with Sir Howard Bern­stein — a ma­jor 2007 omis­sion — in at seven.

More gen­er­ally, the new en­tries re­flect var­ied ex­ter­nal fac­tors. For ex­am­ple, Ron Prosor (11), the im­pres­sive new am­bas­sador, is al­ready chang­ing the na­ture of me­dia dis­course on Is­rael and the Mid­dle East, ably sup­ported by a re­vi­talised Bicom un­der the lead­er­ship of Lorna Fitzsi­mons (36), one of four nonJews in the top 50. Of the oth­ers, Gor­don Brown, at 29, comes in 10 places be­low his pre­de­ces­sor who, de­spite his new role in the Mid­dle East, does not even make the 100.

An­other non-Jew, John Mann MP (17), takes credit for the all-party re­port on an­tisemitism which has hugely in­flu­enced po­lit­i­cal think­ing. Lim­mud was felt to be among the most dy­namic of the com­mu­nity’s in­sti­tu­tions, in­creas­ing its reach ge­o­graph­i­cally and across de­nom­i­na­tions. It is rep­re­sented by chair El­liott Gold­stein, new at 21.

Even with 100 places to fill, we quickly ran out of space, de­spite judges David Rowan and Jon Men­del­sohn rul­ing them­selves out of con­tention (the for­mer be­cause of per­ceived con­flicts with the JC’s role). Hence we’ve done that Jewish com­pro­mise, with a new list of a dozen ris­ing stars.

So this is our list. Many oth­ers could and maybe should have been in­cluded but a quart won’t fit into a pint pot. In judg­ing your panel, please re­mem­ber this is an art, not a science. We are con­fi­dent only that the ar­gu­ments start here.


Our panel at a lunch in the JC board­room where the fi­nal com­po­si­tion of the list was pas­sion­ately de­bated

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