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Rwanda gets Chabad center, nation’s first synagogue and first permanent rabbi

Rabbi Chaim Bar Sella said “we look forward to meeting the needs of everyone here—from humanitarian workers helping those in need to businesspeople taking part in Rwanda’s developing economy.”

Rabbi Chaim and Dina Bar Sella arrive in Rwanda to open a new Chabad center in Kigali that will include the country’s first synagogue, with Bar Sella as its first permanent rabbi. Credit: Chabad.org/News.
Rabbi Chaim and Dina Bar Sella arrive in Rwanda to open a new Chabad center in Kigali that will include the country’s first synagogue, with Bar Sella as its first permanent rabbi. Credit: Chabad.org/News.

A new Chabad-Lubavitch center is set to open in Kigali, Rwanda, that will include the nation’s first synagogue, served by the country’s first permanent rabbi, reported Chabad.org.

Rabbi Chaim and Dina Bar Sella, who arrived in Rwanda with their 8-month-old son, will lead the Chabad center with support from the Chabad of Central Africa, led by Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

The new Jewish center will be the ninth Chabad House in central Africa, and Bar Sella will become the country’s first permanent rabbi.

He said “we look forward to meeting the needs of everyone here—from humanitarian workers helping those in need to businesspeople taking part in Rwanda’s developing economy.”

The Bar Sellas (right) are working with community leaders like Ron Adam (second from left) Israel’s Ambassador to Rwanda. Credit: Chabad.org/News.

The rabbi was able to gather a minyan for Shabbat prayers the first week there in Rwanda, one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. Upcoming programs include Torah classes for men and women, and programming for children.

Israeli Ambassador to Rwanda Ron Adam noted that the new Jewish center will add to the community, saying “when I opened the new embassy here, the first thing I decided to do is to request Rabbi Bentolila to help me establish a Beit Chabad. Now that Chaim and Dina have come, I’m very happy. We’ve become a team!”

The Bar Sellas recently helped Adam put up a mezuzah in his office.

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