Rabbi of the Mountains
For the first time, maybe ever, Mammoth Lakes will have a Rabbi living here supporting the Jewish community and spreading kindness to anyone who needs it.
Rabbi Yisroel Gordon recently moved here with his wife Mushky Gordon to open up a Jewish Center not just for Mammoth Lakes but anyone in Mono or Inyo county that is interested in the services offered.
Rabbi Yisroel grew up in Melbourne, Australia. while Mushky is originally from Connecticut. He came to Mammoth Lakes last December to check out the area and moved here on Tuesday, March 3 all the way from Brooklyn, New York.
“The people here are really nice. We have met so many of them already,” Rabbi Yisroel said in a conversation with The Sheet, “We are here to serve the Jewish community here that is currently underserved. There is no infrastructure available for this growing community.”
Working with the Jewish organization Chabad, Rabbi Yisroel and his wife were in touch with Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, the director of Chabad-Lubavitch of California, who was aware of the lack of a Jewish presence in Mammoth Lakes.
Rabbi Mendel Cunin, based out of Reno, previously was the only Rabbi doing services in the area. Occasionally, students of the Torah would come through the Eastern Sierra doing outreach work/ simply spreading the kindness learned through their studies. But no permanent Rabbi. Until now.
The Chabad movement that Rabbi Yisroel is a part of was started by Lubavitcher Rebbe, who moved to America in 1942 with a group of Jews who survived the Holocaust. Known for his perfect memory and often cited as one of the most influential Jews of the 20th century, Rebbe believed that the Jewish infrastructure that was previously in Europe could be replicated in America. Now there are almost 5,000 Chabad centers around the world with nearly 3,000 located in North America.
According to Mushky Gordon, “It is encouraged for young families to move to smaller places to help Jews with any religious services they might need.” When asked about moving to this small town in the Eastern Sierra, Rabbi Yosriel responded with a huge smile, “We are very excited,” before his wife chimed in, “This is our lifelong dream to do this. Our parents did similar outreach when we were younger so this is very exciting.”
Rabbi Yisroel also said, “We are not just here for the Jewish community. We want to spread good and kindness to the general community and teach people about the seven laws that God gave to mankind. We believe when we do enough good ,the Moshiach (Messiah), the final redeemer, will come to Earth. There will be no more death, evil, or crime and all weapons of war will be turned to agriculture.”
The Sheet then switched gears and asked if either Rabbi Yisroel or Mushky had ever skied. They both laughed and Mushky said she had when she was younger while Rabbi Yisroel replied, “I haven’t had time to ski. I plan on skiing and meeting locals on the mountain.”
They just moved here, so they are currently operating out of their house located at 2113 Meridian Blvd. Apartment #183 but plan on moving the Center to an official location further down the line.
They have big goals such as weekly Chabad services, offering a kosher food supply to the community here, hosting Jewish education classes for anyone to attend. They will have holiday services and will offer anything that people may need whether that be a Jewish person or any local or tourists interested in their services.
The first event, also in the weekly calendar, will be a Purim masquerade party on Tuesday, March 10 from 6-9 p.m. at the Best Western on 3228 Main Street. Additionally there will be a Megilla reading and light breakfast at their home on March 9 at 7:15 p.m.
For more information and updates on the activities provided, you can check out their website at Chabadmammoth.com or their facebook page titled “Chabad of Mammoth Lakes” and for general questions you can email firstname.lastname@example.org