TOSSING A JEWISH LASSO OVER WYOMING’S WILD WEST
Judaism Is Alive, Well And Thriving In Jackson Hole, WY
Summer is winding down in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It’s a short season, weather-wise, but it’s also a season that brings in tourists, lots of them, who come for the mountains and national parks, the outdoor sports and the wide open spaces. They come to make good on the state slogan: “Like No Place on Earth.”
Not long after they leave, winter beckons a slew of other travelers, those lured to the skiing and snow activities. It’s another bustling time; the two seasons bring in about 4 million visitors a year.
And about 1 percent of them—an estimated 40,000 people—are Jewish.
That helps make life busy for Rabbi Zalman Mendelsohn, co-director of Chabad Jewish Center of Wyoming with his wife, Raizy. Not that it’s so quiet the rest of the year. The couple, based in the town of Jackson—in western Wyoming near the border of Idaho, almost completely surrounded by mountains and in the well-known valley of Jackson Hole—serves the roughly 500 permanent Jewish residents there, out of a general population of nearly 10,000. It’s an interesting mix, says the rabbi, of singles, couples, families, retirees, tourists and those with second homes in the area.
“We have a very small community,” acknowledges Mendelsohn, “but we offer quality services—substantive services. We’re reaching out to individual Jews in a very personal, warm, inviting way.”
Since their official 2008 move to Jackson, they have started all kinds of programs. There’s the annual Jackson Hole Jewish Music Festival, which brings in bands and performers from all over, coupled with Camp Gan Israel, a Jewish women’s circle, a “Mommy & Me” class, Torah study, lectures, “Coffee & Kabbalah,” and Shabbat and Jewish holiday dinners and services. Currently, they rent space for High Holiday services but are looking for a place to buy.
Also on tap is a summer “Distinguished Lecture Series”, featuring top tier speakers from around the country. Creating a venue for local residents and summer visitors to laugh, cry and learn together as they are intrigued and inspired by great Jewish personalities.
Laura Goldstein, 34, can attest to the fact that Judaism is thriving in Jackson Hole. Originally from New Jersey, she now lives in Victor, Idaho, which borders Wyoming and is about a 45-minute drive from Jackson. She and her husband Howard, a wildlife biologist, came to live out West in 2009, and she says the rabbi was one of the first people they met.
“We were looking for a way to connect with other Jewish people, and we knew Chabad would be a good way to do that,” says Goldstein, an administrative assistant. “They invited us over for Shabbat dinner, and it was lovely. They were so gracious. They make you want to be part of the community.
“And every opportunity they have of doing a mitzvah, they do. It’s incredible.”
See the original and full article, here: www.chabad.org/2300777
Chabad-Lubavitch is a world-wide Jewish movement with a two century old religious philosophical system. Considered to be the most dynamic force in Jewish life today, the organization consists of over 3,500 institutions worldwide directed by over 4,000 full-time emissaries and a workforce that numbers in the tens of thousands.
Dedicated to the spiritual and material welfare of the Jewish people and motivated by respect and affection for each individual, the movement has set into motion an astounding array of innovative programs, services and institutions to serve the needs of Jews everywhere. More information on Chabad is available atwww.Chabad.org.
For more information on Chabad-Lubavitch of Wyoming visit: www.JewishWyoming.com
Chaim Landa | 718-735-2000 ext. 3074 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Motti Seligson | 646-714-3280 | email@example.com