Rabbi Avi and Mushky Feldman hope to ignite a Jewish fire under the Northern Lights
You can kayak from New York to Iceland in 1,317 hours. Or fly Icelandair in five. At least that’s the tagline Iceland’s main airline plastered all over the Big Apple a few years ago as part of an ad campaign to attract New Yorkers to the land of the Northern Lights (it would be 1,417 or six, respectively, from Washington, D.C.) Along with most of the 2 million tourists who visit Iceland each year, Rabbi Avi and Mushky Feldman will be flying to the island country’s capital of Reykjavík later this year. But unlike the others, they and their two young daughters, Chana and Batsheva, are flying one-way in order to establish the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Center of Iceland.
Their appointment was announced at the Sunday-night gala banquet of the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Women Emissaries (Kinus Hashluchos), which brought together 3,000 female Chabad representatives from 100 countries and their guests.
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; Feldman will be the country’s first permanent rabbi; and aside from congregations formed by British and American troops during World War II, theirs will be the first synagogue in Iceland’s 1,000-plus years of history.