Mobile synagogue' readied
By James C. Falcon
Journal Staff Writer

With the sounds of motor­cycles revving in the background, 10 youth workers with Jewish Rabbi Mendel Katzman of Omaha, Neb., began setting their "mobile synagogues` Monday. "People come in, get some­thing to eat, say a prayer, and contemplate the spiritual side of us," Katzman said as his group of helpers began setting up in the parking lot across from Howard Johnson Ex­press Inn on North Street. The Harley-Davidson rally at nearby Rushmore Plaza Civic Center served as the backdrop. The group will be setting up mobile synagogues - or "Chabad Houses" - in Rapid City throughout the week. Katzman said. This is the first time the Chabad Lubavitch has set up mobile headquarters in Rapid City. It will also not be the last. Katzman explains. "unless things don't follow through". "We tend to try to address the No. 1 places where there are lane numbers of people; this definitely qualifies," Katzman said, noting the "open environment" of the area dur­ing the Sturgis motorcycle ral­ly. "For what we have to offer, these are the types of events that bring people in." Katzman said the group is prepared for 500 visitors in terms of "literature and good­ie= anti (m" I think we to it; hopefully, a little under," Katzman said. There are 10 helpers - six students and four of Katzman's 12 children. By Wednesday, Katzman said. 30 students and five or six counselors will join the group. At these mobile Chabad Houses, one can receive read­ing material as well as view the Torah. -Candlesticks were also distributed for women to light during the Sabbath. Katzman said that Jewish music would be play­ing in the background for at­mosphere. As a steady flow of motor­cycles came through the park­ing lot. Katzman said that they were "not our average crowd." However, he is opti­mistic that things will turn out for the best. He said that while setting up a station in Mitchell. Some motorcyclists came by, intrigued. "There is definitely that surge in at least an interest in finding more about spirituali­ty," Katzman said. "And how they can make some sense in the chaos of today's world. We have to wake them up be­cause of the slumber that ex­ists in this world as a whole." He likened the temporary Chabad Houses as "bringing the mountain to the people." Today, Katzman plans to bring the mountain to the people of Sturgis. "We'll just test the waters and see how it goes." Katzman said. South Dakota and North Dakota are two of the few states in the United States without a Chabad House. In Katzman's estimation, Denver and Omaha are the two clos­est to the Rapid City area. That may change, though. There are plans to establish a Chabad House in South Dakota. The problem is not if, Katzman said, but when. Because of the scattered pop­ulation of the state. Katzman explained, he would need to ensure that a Chabad House would be placed in a strategic spot. "There would be a lot of traveling." Katzman said. After the rally, the group plans on returning to Omaha. According to Katzman, the Chabad Outreach Program began to use "Mitzvah tanks" throughout New York City, as well as cities worldwide, in the 1970s. The Chabad Lubavitch movement dates back 250 years ago, and was started by Bal Shem Tov in White Russia as a way to lead Jewish people there to a state of religious unity. For more information on the Chabad, go to: www.ochabad.com (Chabad Lubavitch of Nebraska) or www.chabad.org (National website).

Contact Falcon at:
James C. FaIcon@rapidcityjournal.com