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  • Writer's pictureDan Berger

How a synagogue in Idaho helped me find my sense of belonging

I don't need to tell you that antisemitism is worse than it has been in decades.

This pains me not only because of how far we've come in combatting it but also because, regardless of the countless contributions the Jewish people have made to humanity's prosperity, it doesn’t seem to trump the hatred that exists towards them.

Ever since I moved to Idaho two years ago, I’ve gotten more and more involved with Chabad Jewish Center of Idaho. I now chair its building committee, which is responsible for overseeing a $3.5M capital campaign to revitalize it.

But why did a secular Jew like myself get involved with what’s perceived as a religious movement? There are three reasons.

  1. Chabad is diverse - Even though Chabad represents religious observance, its community includes Jews across the entire Jewish landscape.

  2. Chabad puts Jews first - While many Jewish groups see their role as fighting for all oppressed people, Chabad focuses on fighting antisemitism and anti-Zionism first and foremost.

  3. It’s personal - Being in Idaho, where Jews are an extreme minority (2,000 or so families by some estimates), I believe part of my civic duty is to educate my fellow Idahoans, and do my part in making the state better.

Taking the point above even further, being a tiny minority has made me develop even more pride in my Jewish identity. This identity is authentic to me, and finding my authentic self has helped me deepen my sense of belonging.

I thank Chabad for allowing me to serve my community and for doing its part in furthering Jewish causes.

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