(JTA) — Chabad will open a Jewish center in South Dakota, meaning that is will now have a presence in all 50 U.S. states.
The announcement of the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Chabad-Lubavitch center was made on Sunday night at the final banquet of the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries to a crowd of 5,600 rabbis and guests from 90 countries, reportedly the largest sit-down dinner in New York City.
The center is set to open this winter under the direction of Rabbi Mendel and Mussie Alperowitz, currently of Brooklyn, New York, according to Chabad.org.
The appointment comes as the organization marks 75 years since the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, and his wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, arrived in the United States from war-torn Europe in 1941.
Chabad-Lubavitch has been serving Jews in South Dakota for more than half a century, since the establishment of the Merkos Shlichus–Roving Rabbis–program, which dispatches pairs of young rabbis to small and isolated communities in the United States and around the world.
The estimated number of Jews residing in South Dakota has been believed to be about 400. Mendel Alperowitz estimates that it may be as high as 1,000, with many arriving in recent years to work in the state’s growing financial and health-care industries, according to Chabad.org.
The couple visited Sioux Falls last year for a week, including during the Purim holiday, and then returned two more times, most recently for Succot.
“It was inspiring for us to see people who really gave their all to maintain communal infrastructure for decades. We felt an instant connection with the people we met, and people asked us if we would consider opening up a permanent center,” Mussie Alperowitz told Chabad.org.
Though they will be based in Sioux Falls, the couple plans to travel to other Jewish communities in South Dakota and to visit Jewish individuals throughout the state, including incarcerated Jews.