I read with some amusement the back and forth of my dear colleague Rav Jachter and Tzvee Zahavy over the recitation of “she’te’hei” in the prayer for Medinat Yisrael at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun (“The Great Reishit Tzemichat Geulatenu Debate,” May 5, 2022, and “The Prayer for the State of Israel,” May 12, 2022). As Rav Jachter rarely attended (being otherwise gainfully occupied!) and Zahavy never a member of CBY and a sporadic attendee, please allow me to clarify.
I inherited the “tehei” when I came to CBY in 1994. Indeed, one of the first shiurim I gave was titled “Tehei or Not Tehei; That Is the Question.” And I affirmed the shul’s nusach that preceded me by decades and continues until today.
When I learned that one minyan had adopted its own nusach—these were the days before shuls had multiple rabbis on staff—I intervened as I would if any individual had changed any of the shul’s minhagim, like reciting Kah Keli even after Yizkor. These matters are not decided by rogue gabbaim acting unilaterally.
It was non-compliance with the shul’s minhagim that ticked some people off, although I don’t remember any shouting beyond the normal hubbub. I might have briefly reminded people later that day of the shul’s nusach and why it’s retained but certainly didn’t belabor the point, threaten anyone or dare them to fire me. That’s not my style. But the argument was less over a Zionist concern than about adherence to a shul’s minhagim.
That being said, from this vantage point, it really matters more whether American Jews come and live in Israel than how worked up they get in the exile over defining Israel’s proper eschatological place. Make aliyah! And don’t thake your time doing it.Rabbi Steven Pruzansky