Chabad opens its first center in Rwanda

Rabbi Chaim and Dina Bar Sella and 8-month-old Shneur Zalman arrive in Kigali, Rwanda, to set up the country’s first Chabad center. (Courtesy of Chabad)

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Chabad has opened its first center in Rwanda, which becomes the African nation’s first synagogue served by a permanent rabbi.

Rabbi Chaim and Dina Bar Sella, and their 8-month-old son, Shneur Zalman, arrived last week in Kigali and managed to gather a minyan for Shabbat prayers, Chabad.org reported.

They will serve under the auspices of Chabad of Central Africa led by Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

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In the past, yeshiva students have made visits to Rwanda to run occasional Jewish events as part of Chabad’s “Roving Rabbis” program.

Rabbi Bar Sella said the new Chabad center will serve Jewish humanitarian workers and visiting businesspeople.

“We look forward to meeting the needs of everyone here,” he said.

The couple recently hosted a Jewish youth group from Great Britain that was touring Rwanda.