BILLINGS — The Jewish community is growing in Billings and plans for a new Chabad Lubavitch center are in the works.
It will be the fourth Chabad Lubavitch center in Montana and an opening is planned for next summer.
“Chabad Lubavitch is a movement within Orthodox Judaism where the members of the movement adhere to traditional Judaism one hundred percent,” said Rabbi Chaim Bruk who is the regional director of all Chabad centers in Montana.
The first center opened in Bozeman in 2007, followed by locations in Missoula and Kalispell. “The numbers of Jews in Montana have grown exponentially. Our estimate is that there’s about 5,000 homes in the state that have a Jew in them,” Bruk said.
Most of that growth has been in Montana’s largest cities such as Billings, Kalispell, Helena, Missoula, and Bozeman.
“People figured out that Montanans are wonderful people. They’re respectful people, they don’t just tolerate you, they actually enjoy having neighbors that come from a diverse background,” said Bruk.
A new Chabad Lubavitch center in Billings would provide Jews with a much-needed place to gather for activities. The specific location has yet to be decided. However, the director of the new Billings center, Rabbi Shaul Shkedi, says the Rims might be a possibility.
“I spoke some people in Billings, the Jewish people there. They told me that seems to be the approximate area of where most of the Jewish community live,” Shkedi said.
Followers of the Chabad Lubavitch movement refrain from driving on Saturdays, so Shkedi hopes to build the center close to the Jewish community.
“Ultimately when everyone does good things together, it makes this world a better place, this country a better place, this state a better place and the city. And that’s part of the vision of the Chabad, to be a force of good,” Shkedi said.