No, she can't.
I'll be brief.
In past years I've noted that Newsweek's Top 50 Rabbis in America list is idiotic, and few would argue against that notion.
This year, a former Forward web editor, Gabrielle Birkner, compiled the list, keeping all the flaws from previous years.
But she also adds her own lie of omission involving FailedMessiah.com.
This is what Birkner wrote about YU's Rabbi Hershal Schachter:
Hershel Schachter (Orthodox)
Revered as a Talmud scholar, his Jewish law rulings are closely followed by centrist and Modern Orthodox Jews. Hershel Schachter, 71, heads Yeshiva University’s rabbinic seminary, where his leadership is widely thought to have pushed the university—and a large segment of the American Orthodox community—to the right. (He rejects ordaining women as Orthodox rabbis and questions organ donation in the case of brain death.) Speaking at a recent rabbinic conference, he said that Jewish law does not prohibit going to the police in cases of alleged sex abuse; in that speech, in which he used a derogatory Yiddish word for a black person, Schachter said that hadn’t reported to authorities allegations of child sex abuse at Yeshiva University’s high school for boys—allegations exposed recently in The Jewish Daily Forward—because he couldn’t ascertain whether the student was telling the truth. Last summer he suggested that Israeli rabbis’ dialogue with Catholic Church officials was tantamount to idolatry, and his statement drew sharp criticism from interfaith groups. Schachter has advocated on behalf of women seeking a Jewish divorce decree and has broken with more right-leaning rabbis in opposing the controversial oral suctioning technique during the circumcision ritual. (2012: No. 12)
Schachter's remarks to that London rabbis' conference were first reported by FailedMessiah.com and the Forward clearly credits FailedMessiah.com for breaking the story.
But Birkner doesn't.
Nor does the woman assigned by Newsweek to oversee this list mention that Failedmessiah.com has for years been reporting that Schachter held these abhorrent positions on rabbinic abuse panels, and Failedmessiah.com is also behind much of the reporting on Schachter's views on brain stem death.
Birkner makes it appear as if these stories were first reported by the Forward, or doesn't indicate any source at all.
Birkner's number four rabbi on this year's list is my old friend, Chabad's Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky:
4. Yehuda Krinsky (Orthodox)
A member of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s inner circle, Yehuda Krinsky, 79, now leads the movement that Schneerson transformed into a brand built on boundless outreach: Chabad-Lubavitch sends its emissaries, or schluchim, to Columbia, Congo, China, and thousands of points in between. This past year the organization opened centers in such unlikely locations as North Dakota and Malta. Of late, Chabad has been particularly active in setting up new early-childhood centers (it runs some 1,000 preschools around the world, about a third of them in America), and developing programming and infrastructure to serve American college students and young professionals. But Chabad remains embroiled in a dispute with the Russian government over the contents of the Schneerson’s library. Earlier this year, a U.S. district court judge ordered Russia to pay $50,000 a day that it refuses to return the rebbe’s books and manuscripts. The U.S. Department of Justice has said that such sanctions run counter to American foreign-policy interests. And a Russia-based Chabad spokesman told The Jewish Daily Forward that the Chabad lawyers should consider a compromise proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. (2012: No. 2)
Birkner obviously knows little about Chabad.
Krinsky is isolated from Chabad's mainstream and from the Chabad population of Crown heights. He widely despised in Chabad, and he leads – if you can call it that – through a series of secular court decisions. Even his former close allies like Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov (a truly nasty man, by the way) are now Krinsky opponents.
What standing does Krinsky actually have in Chabad?
His wife passed away a few months ago, and the funeral passed in front of Chabad headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway and moved on to the cemetery.
How many people, including family, participaed in this funeral?
According to news reports, about 200 – many of them family. By comparison, a funeral of a well-liked Crown heights shop owner might draw five times that. The funeral of the late Rebbe's wife drew tens of thousands as, of course, did the Rebbe's.
Birkner gets much more right when she writes about Agudath Israel of America's Rabbi Shmuel Kamentsky.
Shmuel Kamenetsky (Orthodox)
Shmuel Kamenetsky, 88, is one of ultra-Orthodoxy’s most esteemed rabbis, and his opinions on Jewish law and practice are widely sought out and closely followed by other Orthodox rabbinic authorities. He sits on the Council of Torah Sages, the group that advises the Haredi umbrella group Agudath Israel of America, and he leads the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia. In recent years, he has opined that homosexuals should undergo “reparative therapy” and that allegations of sexual abuse should be reported first to a rabbi, who can determine whether to call the police. Agudath Israel, whose most public face is its executive vice president, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, is currently fighting in court the New York City health department’s attempt to regulate the controversial oral suctioning technique during the circumcision ritual. In August Kamenetsky was a featured speaker at a celebration marking an end to the seven-and-a-half-year Talmud study cycle. The event drew some 90,000 Jews to the stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, that is home to the New York Giants. (2012: No. 21)
What she doesn't say is that I broke the story that Kamentsky said that all allegations of child sexual abuse had to be cleared with a rabbi before reporting them to police. Kamentsky said this exactly at the same time as thousands of volunteers and the NYPD searched for 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky – whose dismembered body would soon be found in a nearby dumpster and in his killer's freezer.
Birkner also fails in the entry on Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon of Lakewood Yeshiva:
Matisyahu Salomon (Orthodox)
Matisyahu Salomon—the spiritual guide of Beth Medrash Govoha (BMG), the massive Haredi yeshiva in Lakewood, New Jersey, and a member of a new anti-Internet group called the Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp—is highly influential in shaping ultra-Orthodox rabbinic positions on technology. In May some 40,000 ultra-Orthodox men packed CitiField, home of the New York Mets, for an anti-Internet rally. The purpose of the event, Salomon told the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Hamodia at the time, “is for people to realize how terrible the Internet is and, of course, the best thing for every [good Jew] is not to allow it in his home at all.” Salomon was among the key rabbinic leaders responsible for the rally’s turnout; he closed BMG for the day so thousands of his students could attend the gathering, where he was a featured speaker. (New)
Birkner clearly does not know the difference between a rosh yeshiva (yeshiva dean) and a mashgiach ruchanai ("spiritual guide"). The latter is a cross between a dean of students and the head of a haredi modesty patrol. The former is the head of the yeshiva and Salomon's boss.
The rosh yeshivas had to close BMG – not Salomon.
Past that, Salomon is most notorious for why he wants the Internet banned, not for trying to ban it.
Salomon wants to ban the Internet because blogs have exposed so many of the missteps and crimes of haredi rabbis who spent decades covering up child sexual abuse allegations and other crimes.
Look at the alleged arson that burned down the house of Shua Finklestein's family or Finklestein's suicide. And then look at Salomon's actions and his words leading up to both events.
Google Salomon here and on other blogs like UOJ and you'll find a litany of bad behavior meant to shut down free flow of information and dissent.
Birkner should know better. Unfortunately, she doesn't.