Northern Idaho, once the home to the headquarters of the Aryan Nations neo-Nazi group, is receiving an infusion of Judaism by a pair of Chabad-Lubavitch "Roving Rabbis."
With Jews in the northern part of the state spread so far apart that the community cannot support a synagogue, the pair of rabbinical students – part of a group of a few hundred sent out each summer to far-flung communities under the sponsorship of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch – have been crisscrossing the rural area. They are planning to organize a community-wide Shabbat meal to cap off their efforts.
"I feel lonely as a Jew," says Abby Chavez, a resident of Sandpoint, Idaho. "It's just really nice to have someone come to your home. It's great every time the rabbis come to visit in the summer."
Chavez, who affixed a mezuzah on her doorpost this summer and plans to start lighting Shabbat candles, says that the visits make her feel a part of a larger family: "It makes me feel important as a Jew and a part of the Jewish community."