Iceland Finally Getting Chabad House and Resident Rabbi

Feldman is all set to be the island’s first permanent rabbi.

Avi Feldman, all of 27 years old, and a Brooklyn, New York born Jew, and by profession a rabbi, is being sent to Iceland by the Chabad authorities. He will be accompanied by Mushky, his wife, originally from Sweden, and their two daughters. If all goes according to plan, the four will be settled in Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland. The northernmost country in Europe has 250 resident Jews. The Icelandic Government has outlawed ritual animal slaughter. There is a fair chance it will outlaw circumcision too.

Rabbi Feldman will be Iceland's first permanent rabbi. Shluchim, the pioneer Chabad in Iceland, will set up a base within the first four months of 2018. When this is completed, the Jewish diaspora will enjoy an institutional presence in the country. History is being made in other ways too. Other than the temporary congregations brought together by the tumultuous conditions of the two World Wars, the Feldman led formal structure will be the pioneer synagogue in the country's 1,000 year history.

The Feldmans will land in Reykjavik after Passover. He will alight from the plane with his wife and two young daughters- Chana and Batsheva. The former is two years old. The latter is all of eight months. Even though English is fairly common in Iceland's capital and largest city, the Feldmans have decided to learn the local language. It helps that Mushky knows Swedish. The two languages have a lot in common.

The cold island has always had some Jewish presence. The de-facto leader of the 250 Jews already present in Iceland is an American from Chicago- Mike Levin. The population increases temporarily during the holidays. The need for rabbis has been quenched by visiting ones like rabbi Berel Pewzner. A number of other rabbinical students have visited this tiny community from 2011. The maiden public seder was also hosted there.

The Feldmans started their search to set up a brand new Chabad House post their marriage in 2014. Iceland came into the picture as Musky was familiar with the northern European island. Their intention to set up a Chabad House became concrete when Iceland rapidly transformed into a popular tourist destination. They were highly impressed with the beauty of Reykjavik when the family visited the country. The Feldmans saw a number of opportunities like services catering to Jewish tourists, available kosher food, and also a preschool.

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