South Dakotans welcome rabbi to the state during Hanukkah celebration

Published: Dec. 28, 2016 at 10:37 PM CST
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It's an exciting time for the Jewish community in South Dakota.

Not only does this week mark the celebration of Hanukkah, the state's new and only rabbi is in town as he prepares to move to South Dakota from New York.

Thursday night Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz held a public menorah lighting at the Washington Pavilion to celebrate.

Mayor Mike Huether was at the packed event.

He says South Dakota is the last state to have its own rabbi.

As Rabbi Alperowitz lit the menorah, many people there were thinking about the bright future ahead for the Jewish community in the state.

“Hanukkah is one of those holidays that you can celebrate and be happy. You don't have to worry about anything,” 11 year-old Payley Hendrickson said.

Hanukkah is the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday and having South Dakota's rabbi lighting the menorah in Sioux Falls made the festival of lights even brighter.

“We were able to come to this so the girls and myself could see the lighting of the menorah,” David O’Hayon said.

To help welcome the rabbi, the mayor came for the celebration.

“We have been embracing diversity at a higher and higher level here in Sioux Falls, and in South Dakota, and it's all kinds of diversity including religious diversity,” Mayor Mike Huether said.

As the rabbi lit the menorah people reflected on what this means for the community.

“We get to expand our knowledge of the Torah together, all of the family, and influence the community with other Jews because I don't know any other Jewish kids so I’ll meet some people that are new to me,” Hendrickson said.

We are very diverse state. We are growing in the understanding of what it is to be different, and having the rabbi here is also more of a symbol as well as somebody who can teach us everything,” O’Hayon explained.

Rabbi Alperowitz says he looks forward to serving people in South Dakota.

“Each time I meet people here it's just an awesome experience,” he stated.

Rabbi Alperowitz plans on opening the Chabad Jewish Center of South Dakota in Sioux Falls sometime in January.

Hanukkah last for 8 days and will end on the evening of Sunday, January first.