By COLlive reporter
A city known as one of the priciest in the world for expatriates and visitors will be getting a full-time Chabad couple to run Jewish activities there, it was announced this month during the International Conference of Shluchim.
Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Chekly and his wife Devorah Leah (nee Zerbib) will be moving in the next few weeks to Luanda, the capital of Angola, Africa’s second largest oil producer.
Angola’s Jews are a diverse bunch comprising of Israelis, Europeans and Americans. For over 2 decades they have been served by visiting rabbinical students sent by Chabad of Central Africa and the Merkos Shlichus program headed by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky.
Angola has been a center of conflict for decades, but in recent years has seen a massive boom in construction in Luanda, where stability has attracted numerous foreign companies to invest in offices in the city, according to wikitravel.org.
“Currently, there is no synagogue or Jewish community center in Angola,” says Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, Director of Chabad of Central Africa for the past 24 years and who has been serving Angola, amongst 14 other countries throughout the continent.
Rabbi Bentolila said that over the course of the past few years, the Jewish population in Angola has grown considerably, with numerous companies and individuals requesting a full-time Chabad presence on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
“Rabbi Chekly has proven his capabilities and dedication to Shlichus and Jewish continuity and was therefore a natural choice for us to be offered this position,” Rabbi Bentolila told COLlive.com.
While studying for rabbinical ordination (which he received in 2012), Rabbi Chekly traveled numerous times on behalf of Chabad to Pointe Noire and Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo to lead services and Jewish activities.
The Cheklys are tasked with opening a center that will cater to all the Jewish companies and expatriates working and living in Angola. It will offer synagogue services, Talmud Torah, adult education classes, kosher food and other programs.
“They are bringing with them a Sefer Torah on loan until the new Torah commissioned especially for Chabad of Angola is ready in the next few months,” Rabbi Bentolila said.
Rabbi and Mrs. Chekly, currently residing in Paris, France, with their baby daughter Chaya Mussia, are awaiting receipt of their visas to Angola. They hope to begin communal activity in the country by the upcoming holiday of Chanukah or shortly thereafter.