Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel Makes it to “The Forward 50” for 2009


agudah-phone-surveyThe Forward 50, a feature of the left-leaning, often anti-religious, Jewish newspaper, began 15 years ago, by the founding editor of the English Forward, who went in search “of the men and women who are leading┬áthe American Jewish community into the 21st century.” Many of the names and faces on that original list were – in the minds of the irreligious Forward editors – “well-known stalwarts of the Jewish establishment, players in New York and Washington, powerful benefactors. They were representative of the kind of authority and leadership prevalent in 1994.”

The Forward has now released its list for 2009 titled “The New Faces Of Leadership.

The Forward, in its introduction to its list, states: “In the decade and a half since, the dramatic shift in Jewish leadership mirrors larger trends in our society. Just as we no longer go one place for our news, we no longer look to only one powerful person in a position of authority for leadership. This year, in particular, we’ve seen some of the most established organizations questioned from the outside and challenged from within, while those who are creating and innovating seem to have history’s wind at their backs.”

Only one person on the original Forward 50 list is included on this year’s list, and that person is filmmaker and philanthropist Steven Spielberg.

The newspaper says that the selection process is “informed by the staff’s vast experience and assisted by welcome nominations from our readers.”

The Forward also states, “One aspect of this process hasn’t changed: Each year, the Forward staff debates how to include those Jews whose impact in the past year has been dramatic – and damaging. We take no pleasure in highlighting misdeeds and embarrassments caused by fellow Jews, but they, too, are part of our story.

Thus, the list includes the likes of Bernard Madoff.

Named to the list this year is Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudas Yisroel of America. In describing Rabbi Zwiebel, The Forward states:

The chilly relationship between American Jewry’s liberal mainstream and its traditionalist Orthodox wing could be headed for a welcome thaw. The reason: David Zwiebel, 57, newly appointed executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, the powerful social-service and advocacy agency that represents Orthodoxy’s black-garbed right flank. A committee had run the organization since the 1998 death of its iron-willed longtime president, Moshe Sherer. Zwiebel inherits a full plate of crises: fallout from business and child-[abuse] scandals, deep rifts with other Jewish denominations and a private school system swamped by an unending baby boom. The soft-spoken Zwiebel, a constitutional lawyer and ordained rabbi, has been handling crises for two decades as Agudath Israel’s general counsel and government affairs director. Since becoming chief in January, he’s moved swiftly to set a new tone. In September, he convened the first in a series of seminars on legal compliance procedures for school and charity administrators. In October, his staff reached a compromise with Congress that allowed the movement to drop its long-standing opposition to [toeivah] rights legislation, clearing the way for passage of a historic hate-crimes bill. Perhaps most telling, he attended and mingled with other agency heads, including liberal activists and Reform rabbis, at a reception for Jerry Silverman, the new chief of the Jewish Federations of North America.

To view the full list, click here.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. “In October, his staff reached a compromise with Congress that allowed the movement to drop its long-standing opposition to [toeivah] rights legislation, clearing the way for passage of a historic hate-crimes bill. ”

  2. Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel is a true Kiddush Hashem.

    Nevertheless, the Forward is an anti-semitic self-hating so-called “Jewish” rag. It’s heritage is socialism and communism, not Judaism.

    I am sure Rabbi Zweibel is not pleased he was included in this rag’s marketing ploy.

  3. He’s not at all happy or honored to be on this horrible list. What he is though is a walking Kidush Hashem and we are lucky to have him.

  4. Rabbi Zweibel is an amazing person , and he great teacher Rabbi Sherer. I hope he will beable to in some way fill the shoes of the previos leader who was from the most special leaders in Klal Yisroels history, Rabbi Sherer.