Hillsboro prepares for first synagogue

Oregon Faith News Note:

The Oregonian reported on the first steps towards a new synagogue being built in Hillsboro This is Providence working: a rabbi from Israel came five years ago to found the first and (so far only) synagogue in Hillsboro, Oregon. No one picked him up at the airport. No one invited him over for dinner or brought his family a gift. That’s because Hillsboro lacked a synagogue, and its Jewish people lacked the institutional community that a synagogue can nurture. And so, on that day in 2007, Rabbi Menachem Rivkin brought his wife and six-month-old twins to Hillsboro, unsure of what they would find. Providence brought him to the Oregon town. One of his college buddies from New York told him about the need in Hillsboro. That friend, Rabbi Motti Wilhelm, is the son of the director of Chabad of Oregon.

Rivkin started a Torah study group with the Israelis, and within a year’s time had opened a small Jewish center officially known as a shul. By leading couples through marriage counseling, giving financial advice, and persuading local grocery stores and restaurants to begin carrying Kosher items, Rivkin soon made his mark on the community. Last year, Chabad Hillsboro was even able to purchase a house on Southwest Brookwood Avenue, and the just last month the city granted a permit for it to be used as a house of worship. After some $50,000 worth of work is done, work for which the 30-member congregation still has to raise the money, the building will be reopened as a new synagogue. The work is slated to begin this summer.

Rivkin is full of plans, always moving at top speed. Besides the $50,000 in renovations, he already wants to tear down the home’s garage and build a large classroom building for the congregation’s use. At the Purim dinner last week, he read the book of Esther aloud in 17 minutes. Usually it takes 45.

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