One Busy Rabbi and a ‘Booming’ Jewish Community Celebrate Hanukkah in Jackson

KHOL spoke to the lone rabbi in Wyoming about what the Festival of Lights means this year.
Menorah
Two community menorah lightings will be held for Hanukkah in Jackson this week. (Bart/Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0])

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah began Sunday and will continue through sundown on Monday, Dec. 6. Chabad Rabbi Zalman Mendelsohn leads the Chabad Jewish Center of Wyoming in Jackson, and he told KHOL he’s gearing up for a busy week.

“There’s a new rabbi, thank God, that will be moving to Cheyenne here within the next couple of months but at this time, I am currently the only rabbi in the State of Wyoming,” Mendelsohn said. “Over the course of the last 14 years since I’ve been here, most of the time that I’ve been living in Jackson, I’ve been the only rabbi in the state.”

Mendelsohn said everyone is welcome to join in for two local menorah lightings this week: One will be held at the Four Seasons Resort on Thursday, Dec. 2, at 6 p.m. and another at the Jackson Town Square on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. Both events will be accompanied by a telling of the story of Hanukkah, which commemorates a small group of Jews—the Maccabees—who rose up against their Syrian-Greek oppressors and rededicated the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C. Hanukkah songs will also be sung and traditional holiday treats will be served.

KHOL also asked Rabbi Mendelsohn about the significance of religious traditions like Hanukkah in 2021, when partisan and cultural divides seem stronger than ever.

“I think that in a time like this, what we’re experiencing is people are tired of the bickering of politics and the way that it seeks to divide and conquer, the way that it seeks to separate human beings. We are booming. The Chabad Jewish Center of Wyoming is growing now more than ever before,” Mendelsohn said. “[People] are seeking religion in general and Judaism in particular as a means of coming together.”

More information about celebrating Hanukkah in Jackson, including how to RSVP for a privately-hosted latke bash on Sunday, Dec. 5, is available at jewishwyoming.com.

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About Kyle Mackie

Kyle is a multimedia journalist who joined KHOL as news director in January 2021. Prior to moving West, she reported on education, immigration, racial justice and more for WBFO, the NPR affiliate in Buffalo, NY. With a background in international reporting, Kyle has also worked in Israel and the Palestinian territories and the Western Balkans. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and geography from The George Washington University and master’s degree in journalism from the City University of New York. When not out reporting, Kyle can usually be found trail running, climbing, skiing or grooving to live music.

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