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Mama, Don’t Let Your Rabbis Grow Up To Be Cowboys

By Daniel Treiman

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When Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb took the reins at the Orthodox Union in 2002, observers took note of the fact that the new executive vice-president of the centrist congregational umbrella group was fond of wearing a black hat of the sort popular in more religiously right-leaning precincts. Now that Weinreb is wrapping up his tenure, I’m left wondering whether his newly named successor, Rabbi Steven Weil of Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, will wear a cowboy hat.

Granted, I have no evidence whatsoever that Weil actually wears cowboy hats. But the Lyndonville, N.Y., native is, apparently, something of a country music fanatic.

On Beth Jacob’s Web site, Weil’s biographical page reveals a set of interests that one wouldn’t necessarily expect from a leader of American Orthodoxy.

Among his favorite Web sites, he lists www.mesorah.org and www.yu.edu — nothing too unusual so far. But then, for his third and final choice, there’s this one: www.cmt.com. (For all you city slickers, that’s the site for Country Music Television.)

Then, under hobbies, he lists “The Rambam” and “country music.”

Given Weil’s taste in music, we shouldn’t be too surprised that when he turns east to Zion, he also sees another locale beckoning. Responding to the prompt “I will retire and live in..”, he answers: “Israel or Nashville, TN.”

So let’s all wish the O.U.’s next executive vice-president a big mazel tov — and a yee haw!


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