It makes up a small population in South Dakota, but this is the time of the year when the Jewish Community gathers to celebrate their faith.

An event was held in Sioux Falls as part of a worldwide Chanukah observance; Leading the group – a new Rabbi in South Dakota. 

27-year-old Mendel Alperowitz is in the process of moving to Sioux Falls to become the state’s Rabbi. When he does, he will be the first one here since 1979. Once settled, he has a few ideas for reaching out to the entire Jewish Community. 

Lighting a Menorah, an important tradition for Chankukah – now, a 6-foot-tall Menorah shines bright in Sioux Falls. It’s a symbol of the importance of religious principles. 

“Each one can look at their neighbor and say how can I add more light in your life,” Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz said. 

Now, there’s a new man looking to shine the light of Judaism a little brighter in South Dakota. Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz says when he moves to South Dakota permanently, he won’t be the traditional Rabbi at one location. Instead, he will be spending a lot of his time traveling the state. 

“Visiting people at their homes, building our relationships with them, and just doing Jewish things together. My goal ultimately is that there should not be a single Jew in South Dakota who feels lonely and if I could help with that, that will be the highest honor for me,” Alperowitz said. 

Goals that are already making a positive impact on the community.

“I was one of the people who asked him to come out here and I’m very glad he did,” Stuart Jacobs said. 

Stuart Jacobs works at the Synagogue in Sioux Falls. He says they get around 40 people in attendance, some from Minnesota and Iowa. He believes this new leadership could expand those numbers. 

“I come here and most of these people I do not know and with that Rabbi here now we would be able to bring more people and hopefully in the temple and grow the Jewish community here,” Jacobs said. 

At Wednesday night’s event, the Rabbi joins with Mayor Mike Huether to talk about the religious diversity in Sioux Falls. Alperowitz is creating a Chabad Jewish Center in town to offer Jewish Education, outreach and social service programming. Right now, South Dakota is the only state in the country that doesn’t have one. While it’s exciting to be a part of that major milestone, Alperowitz says there’s work left to be done. 

“It’s really not about us as much as it is about the people who we hope to encounter and be able to live our lives with,” Alperowitz said. 

A special holiday that the community hopes to share with more people in the future. 

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Jewish Population makes up .2 percent of South Dakota’s total population. There are currently just two active synagogues, one in Sioux Falls and another in Rapid City.