Congregation Sherith Israel (Nashville, Tennessee)

Founded circa 1900, Congregation Sherith Israel is an Orthodox synagogue located in Nashville, Tennessee. Currently led by Rabbi Saul Strosberg and Cantor George Lieberman, it welcomes Jews of all backgrounds and levels of observance.[1]


"Sherith Israel" is a rendition of the Hebrew שארית ישראל, which means "Remnant of Israel." In some early synagogue documents, the name was spelled "Shearith Israel," which reflects the presence of the aleph (א) in שארית ("Sherith").


Sherith Israel has its beginnings in 1887, when it was a Hungarian congregation organized by the Hungarian Benevolent Society of Nashville.[2]

In 1904, another congregation called Adath Israel declared itself as a Conservative congregation, making the Hungarian synagogue the only Orthodox congregation in Nashville. Wedge issues like mixed-gender seating encouraged many from Adath Israel to join the Hungarian congregation. The following year, it adopted the name "Sherith Israel."[2]

Soon afterwards, the congregation purchased a building on Fifth Avenue for use as a synagogue. Since it was next to the Ryman Auditorium, home to the Grand Ole Opry, there was some humorous confusion as country music fans walked in by mistake, and began listening to the Hebrew prayer service instead.[2]

Notable membersEdit

Rabbi Zalman I. Posner, who arrived in Nashville in 1949,[3] was a shaliach, or emissary, of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn. He and his wife, Rebbetzin Risya Posner, served as the spiritual leaders of the synagogue for many years. A small sample of Rabbi Posner's sermons appear in his book Reflections on the Sedra. He is a well-known Chasidic authority world-wide, and has authored, edited, and translated many works, including Think Jewish (author), the Tanya (translator, two parts of five), and the Hebrew-English Nusach HaAri Siddur published by Kehot (editor). Before his retirement from Sherith Israel, he gave classes about the Tanya, the weekly Torah portion, the Talmud, and how the modern world is placed in the realm of Jewish tradition.

Cantor George Lieberman, an active leader and teacher of the congregation today, joined the synagogue in March 1996. Trained at the Yeshiva University Cantorial School, Cantor Lieberman continues to serve as the congregation's baal korei, or Torah scroll reader, and to lead Sabbath and Holiday services for the congregation. He also teaches Hebrew, prepares children for bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah, and gives adult-level classes about the weekly portion in the Torah. In addition, he has taught classes about the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (a famous code of Jewish law) and Midrash (a collection of traditional allegories that frequently flesh out details in the Torah), and many other topics.

Saul Strosberg was appointed rabbi of Congregation Sherith Israel in 2005. He is a graduate of Yeshiva University and has ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. Under his leadership, Sherith Israel's membership has grown from 140 families to over 200.

Akiva SchoolEdit

Congregation Sherith Israel is also the original site of the Akiva Jewish Day School, which Rabbi Zalman I. Posner founded in 1954. In 1999, Akiva School moved to the Gordon Jewish Community Center at 801 Percy Warner Blvd.[4] The classrooms on the ground floor are now used by the Sherith Israel Sunday School program for children. Additionally, a portion of the space in the "ladies' balcony" above the sanctuary on the third floor was partitioned and converted into classrooms. The space has since been reclaimed for the balcony during the renovations from 2008-09.

Sherith Israel todayEdit

The current building at 3600 West End Avenue dates back to 1948,[2] but it has been upgraded and augmented over that time. It now has a mikvah, a social hall, a large and small sanctuary, and separate kitchens for meat and dairy kosher cooking. Sherith Israel offers adult classes in Hebrew and Scripture, and has a daily minyan for prayer services three times a day every day of the year, excepting Sabbath and Holidays when extra services are added. An eruv surrounds the local community.[5]

The main sanctuary is used for Sabbath and Holiday services, and often is also used during the week. It has stained-glass windows specially commissioned for the building, each depicting a scene from the Torah. Large, back-lit sculptures depicting the Two Tablets of the Covenant flank the ark in the front of the sanctuary. There are two sections for women that flank the recessed area for men in the center of the room. In addition, a women's balcony in the rear overlooks the room. Mechitzas about five feet tall separate the male and female sections of the room.

The small sanctuary doubles as a classroom, and holds many tables for this purpose. It also contains part of the synagogue's library, its walls covered in bookshelves. There is an ark in this room, and a large reading table from which to read the Torah scrolls.

Notable MembersEdit


  1. ^ "About Us." Congregation Sherith Israel. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2008-06-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b c d "History of Nashville Congregations." The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2010-07-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Personnel: Rabbi Emeritus Zalman Posner." Congregation Sherith Israel. Archived 2015-12-09 at the Wayback Machine Also, "Pioneering Chabad Emissary, Mother and Grandmother Passes Away in Nashville." Obituaries.
  4. ^ "About Akiva School." Akiva School of Nashville.
  5. ^ "The Nashville Eruv." Congregation Sherith Israel. <> Archived September 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 10 November 2011.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 36°08′06″N 86°49′33″W / 36.1349°N 86.8257°W / 36.1349; -86.8257