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Rabbi Yanki Hecht to open first synagogue in Lincoln this summer

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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For the first time in Lincoln, Jewish residents will have a synagogue when Rabbi Yanki Hecht opens Chabad Jewish Center of Lincoln this summer.

Moving from New York with his wife, Shainy, and 2-month-old daughter, Chaya Mushka, Hecht hopes to open a Chadad House somewhere in Lincoln by July.

A Chabad House is a community center that offers Torah classes, synagogue services, and assistance with Jewish education and practice, according to the Chabad website.

“We’re hoping to establish a center in Lincoln that will provide for the spiritual and religious needs of all the people in Lincoln,” Hecht said. “Our first big program will be the High Holidays. Our goal is to one day have Shabbat services Friday nights and Saturdays.”

The High Holidays this year fall on Sept. 20 for the first night of Rosh HaShannah and Sept. 29 for Yom Kippur.

Chabad Jewish Center of Lincoln services will include children’s classes, Bar Mitzvah classes, adult-education classes, holiday programming, women’s programming, home visitations and community outreach.

 “We’ve been talking with Rabbi Yossi Korik (from Chabad of Placer County, located in Roseville) and his estimate is there are 500 Jews in Lincoln,” Hecht said. “From his experience, there are many more Jews that we don’t know about. In Lincoln Hills, there are close to 300 and there could be more than 200 in the other areas of Lincoln.”

Of Lincoln’s 47,187 residents, that means about 9 percent are Jewish.

“We’ll start out in our home with meals and programs. Then we’ll rent space for other programs. Our best problem would be if we outgrow the space. We’re looking forward to that problem,” Hecht said. “For our Purim event in Lincoln Hills last month, there were about 50 people. We’re looking forward to a larger turnout for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.”

Although Chabad of Roseville is about 20 minutes from Lincoln, both Hecht and Korik said that Lincoln needs its own Chabad.

“Chabad in Roseville oversees Placer County. Yossi contacted us and felt there was a need for a new Chabad. His responsibilities are growing as Chabad is growing,” Hecht said. “Next step was a Chabad in Lincoln so people didn’t have to drive. Of course, we’ll be working together. We’re not in competition.”

In fact, the two rabbis are cousins.

Lincoln is one of the fastest-growing cities in the region, Korik said, but there aren’t any synagogues or religious Jewish organizations here.

“The new Chabad house will certainly fill that void and be able to represent the Jewish population in Lincoln to the general community,” Korik said.

“Over the last 11 years we have served in the Placer County community, we have found that although we have been able to connect with many of the Jewish population in Lincoln,” Korik added, “the vast majority has not been engaged, primarily due to distance, night time driving and the like. We strongly feel that a local Chabad presence will succeed in truly engaging the growing Jewish population in Lincoln.”

The Lincoln Hills Shalom Group co-president is looking forward to Chabad opening in Lincoln.

“It’s of course great to have them open nearby so we don’t have to go to Folsom or Roseville,” said Hagai Narkis, the Shalom Group co-president. “Now we’ll have a local congregation to celebrate with. It will make it a lot easier to practice.” 

There will be no membership fees at Chabad. But donations are always accepted. Area residents can contribute at jewishlincolncom. For more information on Chabad, contact Hecht at 475-238-4402, yankihecht@gmail.com  or jewishlincoln.com.

“We saw the need for a Jewish resource and the potential for a vibrant Jewish community and we decided to open the Chabad Jewish Center of Lincoln,” Hecht said. “After our fun Purim event in Sun City Lincoln Hills (in March) and the excitement and positive response we received, we knew we had made the right decision.”