How we made our selection
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