Synagogue to open in resort

Standing outside what will be Queenstown's first Jewish meeting place and kosher food supplier,...
Standing outside what will be Queenstown's first Jewish meeting place and kosher food supplier, the Queenstown Chabad House in the Gorge Rd Retail Centre, are (from left) Israeli visitor Anit Lavi, Chabad founder Rabbi Shmuel Kopel and Orgil Gazit,...

Jewish residents and visitors to Queenstown will soon have the support of what is thought to be the area's first synagogue and kosher food supplier, the Queenstown Chabad House.

Rabbi Shmuel Kopel, of New York, last month signed the lease on the Gorge Rd Retail Centre site for the centre, which will replace the Christchurch Chabad House, red-stickered after last year's earthquakes.

Rabbi Kopel envisages the centre will be a "multi-purpose" gathering point for Jewish travellers to the South Island, many of whom avoid the area because kosher food is not widely available.

"It's going to go in stages, but the main purpose is to have a place for Jewish people - mainly travellers here - to get together for desperately needed religious and cultural contact."

The availability of kosher food, meat in particular, is a big problem for Jews in the South Island because synagogues in Auckland and Wellington are the only suppliers.

"I believe that by providing these services, we will be attracting a lot of people to Queenstown from Australia and even from America who are staying away," Rabbi Kopel said.

Queenstown, which attracted many Israeli backpackers, was better suited as a travellers' hub than Christchurch, Rabbi Kopel said.

It is hoped an empty kitchen space in the Chabad House can be returned to a working kitchen, to cater for Jewish gatherings, including traditional Shabbat meals on Friday nights.

The first of these public meals for the area was held last month at Rabbi Kopel's house in Queenstown.

More than 50 young people gathered together to share a meal. Many more than this number are expected for future gatherings.

"We've run these meals in Christchurch and Dunedin before and have had between 100 to 150 travellers per Shabbat meal ... so we are hoping to have equal numbers or more," Rabbi Kopel said.

Once the Queenstown Chabad House is operating, Rabbi Kopel will consider remaining in Queenstown to run it.

"There are too many considerations as of yet, but it would be a lovely place to live," he said.

People wanting to know more should visit jewishsouthisland.com or contact Rabbi Kopel at rabbi@jewishsouthisland.com.

 

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