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.