By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Chaim Shaul Shkedi, his wife Mushky Shkedi (nee Amar) and their daughter Zelda Rochel will be moving this summer to open the first Chabad Jewish center in Billings, Montana.
Billings is the largest city in the state and has one of the largest trade areas in the United States. It is also a retail destination for parts of Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The local Jewish population is known to be in the hundreds, but Rabbi Shkedi estimates that there are more. “We look forward to covering new ground and connecting with more people,” he told COLlive.com.
This past month, Rabbi Shkedi visited Billings and already held meetings with Jewish residents. “They were very excited about us coming,” he said. “We plan to start with Jewish programmings, such as Torah and Hebrew classes and a women’s club.”
The new Shluchim were appointed by Montana’s Head Shliach Rabbi Chaim Bruk. They join the state’s 3 Chabad centers in Bozeman, Missoula and Kalispell near the Canadian border.
Chabad has been servicing Jews in the state as far back as 1957 with its Merkos Shlichus roving rabbis program. In 2007, Rabbi Bruk and his wife Chavie Bruk opened Chabad of Montana.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on Billings for 15 years,” Rabbi Bruk told the Billings Gazette. “It became clear that the need was strong.”
Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch at Lubavitch World Headquarters, welcomed the new addition in Billings joining Chabad centers in over 100 countries and all fifty US states.
“We aren’t surprised about Chabad’s growth in rural America, and with so many families leaving the big cities and heading to the mountains for a more tranquil life, Chabad will be there for them,” remarked Rabbi Krinsky, who also served as secretary of the Rebbe.
“The Rebbe believed that every Jewish person from Glendive, Montana to Helsinki, Finland should have the ability to tap into their heritage and experience vibrant and meaningful Judaism,” Rabbi Krinsky said in a statement.
“The Rebbe envisioned a time when his students, young men and women, would leave their Brooklyn cocoon and move to small Jewish communities like Montana and share the warmth and depth of Judaism,” he added.
Donate to help set up Chabad of Billings – https://square.link/u/kkvwKebs