The couple are two of the warmest people you’ll ever meet. The Rabbi lights up the moment he begins to talk about the Icelandic Jewish community and Mushky, two months away from giving birth to the couple’s third child, happily interjects with stories of their move—from lively Shabbat dinners to how great the availability of kosher food is.
Rabbi Avi Feldman, 27, of Brooklyn, New York and his Sweden-born wife Mushky are slated to settle with their two daughters in Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital city and Europe's only capital without a synagogue, later this year, the couple told JTA last week.
Avi og Mushky komu til Íslands í tvígang í vetur áður en þau fluttu hingað í maí síðastliðnum. Honum líst vel á land og þjóð og segist aðeins hafa fundið fyrir velvild. Eftir að hafa kynnst gyðingum á Íslandi ákváðu þau að þetta væri staðurinn fyrir þau.
Notwithstanding, local Jews have celebrated holidays in Iceland also without a resident rabbi, often with help from yeshiva students and Chabad rabbis who came there especially to celebrate the dates, Rabbi Feldman said, calling this “inspiring and very special.
The island nation has by no means been devoid of Jewish life—a community of around 250, led by a Chicago transplant named Mike Levin, has gathered for years on holidays—but it’s only in the last few years that the desire for any sort institutional presence has become really acute.
We have families, children here, and this will help perpetuate the Jewish tradition,” Dr. Patrick Sulam, a French Jew who moved to Iceland in 2001, told Chabad.org. “I think it’s excellent for the local community and for the tourists. When people travel, they often get a new realization that even when you travel, you’re still a Jew.
Feldman and his wife visited Iceland in December and organized a Hanukkah celebration for the community, which is made up of some locals and Jewish expatriates from the United States and Israel. The couple hopes to set up an educational framework for Jewish children, a synagogue and a mikvah, or Jewish ritual bath, none of which exist in Iceland, a nation of some 300,000 people.
Mushky Feldman, who grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden, said she looked forward to “bringing the light of Judaism to one of the world’s darkest places,” a reference to how, in January, Reykjavík enjoys only 4.5 hours of daylight. “But sunrise comes after 11 a.m., so that means we’ll get to see the sunrise everyday,” she noted. In Summer, Reykjavík has days with 18 hours of daylight.
Rabbi Feldman will be the country’s first permanent rabbi; the Chabad Jewish Center will be Iceland’s first institutional Jewish presence; and aside from congregations formed by British and American troops during World War II, Chabad of Reykjavík will be the first synagogue in Iceland’s history.
While most Chabad Houses open with the intention to help the local community, they are also a massive help for tourists. We’ve had some of our most memorable Shabbos experiences at Chabad Houses in cities like Buenos Aires, Chiang Mai, Hong Kong, Kobe, Melbourne, Palm Springs, Paris, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Venice, and more.
Mike Levin, a volunteer from Chicago who currently runs the Icelandic community, said: “If someone puts their full-time concentration on Jewish life in Iceland, they can do a lot of things here.” The Feldmans will travel to Iceland next month in time to prepare for Pesach before settling permanently later in the year.
At a gala banquet Sunday marking the 30th anniversary of her passing and the closing event of the annual conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Women Emissaries (Kinus Hashluchos), it was revealed that a young couple will soon be moving to Reykjavik to open Chabad of Iceland—meaning every major capital in Europe now has a Chabad center.
The Feldmans’ arrival will herald a new era for Iceland’s tiny Jewish community, and fulfill a number of firsts for Iceland’s long but sparse Jewish history. The Chabad Jewish Center will be Iceland’s first institutional Jewish presence; Rabbi Feldman will be the country’s first permanent rabbi; and aside from congregations formed by British and American troops during World War II...
לראשונה בהיסטוריה של איסלנד, יוקם בית כנסת קבוע במדינה, כחלק מהקמת בית חב"ד בעיר בירתה, רייקויאוויק. בארגון חב"ד מינו בתקופה האחרונה את הרב אבי פלדמן לשליחם במדינה הזעירה, והוא צפוי לעבור כבר בחודש מאי הקרוב עם רעייתו ושני בנותיו לרייקויאוויק.