The self-governing British overseas territory of Bermuda which is said to have both the highest per-capita income and the highest cost of living of any country or territory in the world is set to welcome its first resident Rabbi.
Jewish Bermuda locals are excited to welcome the nation’s first permanent Chabad House, led by Rabbi Chaim and Menuchy Birnhack, following decades of regular visits by Chabad Roving Rabbis.
Bermuda has a population of approximately 65,000 residents, of whom 500 are believed to be Jewish. The archipelago welcomes as many as a million tourists each year, including tens of thousands of Jews, mostly from North America and Europe.
The Chabad’s arrival on the island has special significance since it marks the 120th anniversary of the birth of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, this year Chabad will be establishing 1,210 new institutions around the world.
For many years, Jewish life in Bermuda was sustained through the tireless efforts of Dr. Fiona and Jeff Elkinson.
An addictions counselor, Dr. Elkinson is the president of the local Jewish community and has been instrumental in paving the way for Chabad’s integration into the community.
When exploring the possibility of accepting Rabbi Zarchi’s invitation to Bermuda, the Birnhacks consulted Tadjia and Dr. Brett Lefkowitz, who currently serves as Health Disaster Coordinator for Bermuda’s Ministry of Health.
Meanwhile, while most grocery store items are imported from North America and many bear kosher certification, there is no kosher meat available in Bermuda, and so the Birnhacks will need to import enough for themselves and for locals and visitors wishing to keep kosher.