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New Shluchim to Laramie, Wyoming Will Illuminate the “Gem City”

Rabbi Yaakov and Malkie Raskin will found Wyoming’s second Chabad House, in a town visited by Chabad for more than 70 years


They’ve waited decades for a full-time Chabad presence, but the city of Laramie, Wyoming welcome Rabbi Yaakov and Malkie Raskin, who are moving to the Cowboy State to establish a Chabad House in the “Gem City of the Plains,” which will also serve nearby Cheyenne, Wyoming.


For more than 70 years, Chabad representatives have visited Laramie — sent by the Rebbe through the Merkos Shlichus initiative. One of the earliest Merkos shluchim to the town was Mazkir Rabbi Binyomin Klein, who visited Laramie in the 1956.


When Rabbi Zalman and Raizy Mendelsohn established Chabad Lubavitch of Wyoming in 2007, they began to make the six-plus-hour drive from Jackson Hole to visit Laramie and Cheyenne several times a year, developing friendships with many Jewish community members, who often expressed how meaningful it would be to establish a full-time Chabad presence in southeast Wyoming.


“After more than 70 years of Chabad visits and connection with Larmie’s Jewish community, we’re excited to welcome Rabbi Yaakov and Malky Raskin to found the city’s first Chabad center,” said Rabbi Zalman Mendelsohn. “It’s heartening to hear how much the city’s modest, but proud Jewish community looks forward to welcoming them.”


While Laramie doesn’t currently have its own synagogue, a group of Jewish residents gather regularly for Shabbosim and Yomim Tovim in borrowed space, and they’re rolling out the red carpet for the town's new rabbi and rebbetzin.


"I moved to Laramie in 2018 from the Jewish community in Long Beach,” said Simcha Pollard, a professor of economics. Coming from a community with a much more robust Jewish presence, Pollard was thrilled to meet the Raskins, and overjoyed when he learned they had committed to move to Laramie. “The excitement I felt on Lag B'Omer last year during Rabbi and Rebbitzen Raskin's visit to Laramie was not comparable to the joy that was realized when they told me they were to be our shluchim.”


Settled in the 1800s, Laramie had its beginnings as a Wild West town along the transcontinental railroad. Since then, it has grown into a city of more than 30,000 residents, hundreds of whom are Jewish. Laramie’s University of Wyoming boasts 12,000 students and 2,800 staff. The Raskins recently moved to a home in walking distance from the university, and look forward to welcoming Jewish students, faculty, and Laramie’s residents to their newly-formed Chabad House.


“When Malkie and I first visited, we were taken by the natural beauty and scenery, as well as the welcoming community,” Rabbi Yaakov Raskin said. “We are thrilled to join Chabad in the Cowboy State and serve southeast Wyoming’s diverse and proud Jewish community.”


The Raskins bring extensive experience in Jewish communal leadership in large and small communities, as Rabbi Yaakov grew up in London, U.K., where his father, Dayan Levi Yitzchok Raskin, is a renowned rov, posek and author, and both have spent significant time working with shluchim around the world. Rabbi Yaakov studied in yeshivas in London and Manchester, England; as well as Kiryat Gat, Israel; before receiving smicha at the West Coast Rabbinical Seminary. He served as a student rabbi in Istra, Russia; Winnipeg, Canada; and Salford, England.


Malkie studied in primary and high schools in Detroit, Michigan, before going on to Beis Chaya Mushka Seminary in Montreal, Canada. She served as a youth leader and educator in cities including Fairfax, Virginia; Tenafly, New Jersey; West Bloomfield, Michigan and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


As the only shluchim for hundreds of miles, the Raskins will wear many hats, as Rabbi Yaakov Raskin plans to offer chaplaincy services for the city’s hospitals, police and fire departments, local schools, and nearby Warren Air Force Base.


“Living in Laramie is a unique opportunity to meet and serve Jewish people from all walks of life,” said Malkie Raskin. “From professors to patients, from students to seniors — all are welcome at Chabad.”


The I-80 interstate highway has replaced the railroad as the most traveled route through town, and Laramie continues to be a popular wayside stop for travelers—some of whom find their planned stop extended unexpectedly. “I’ve heard a number of times from Jewish road-trippers, travelers and truckers stranded in town by one of Wyoming’s blizzards, which can close the roads for days at a time,” Raskin said. “Now they, too, will have somewhere to go for Shabbos, kosher food, or simply to visit and chat.”


The Raskins will also be servicing nearby Cheyenne — Wyoming’s capital city — which boasts an active Jewish community, who are excited for the Raskins to complement their century-old Jewish presence. They also plan to provide Jewish resources for visitors and vendors at Cheyenne’s 10-day annual Frontier Days — the largest annual rodeo and western celebration in the world.


While the Raskins will be the second shluchim couple to Wyoming, Laramie is a six-hour drive from Jackson Hole and the Mendelsohns — and the closest Jewish community is actually Denver, Colorado, over two hours away. The Raskins will be prioritizing the building of a mikvah in Laramie, as they have heard from local Jewish people who are eagerly anticipating being able to observe this sacred mitzvah without the four-hour round trip it now entails.


This past Chanukah, Rabbi Yaakov Raskin joined Rabbi Zalman Mendelsohn at Wyoming’s State Capitol for the public menorah lighting, where he presented Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon with a silver pushka and formally announced the opening of Chabad Lubavitch of Laramie to thunderous applause from those gathered from across the state for the event.


“We’re looking forward to getting to know the community in our new Wyoming home,” Raskin said. “And it’s heartening that they’re looking forward to getting to know us as well.


To join the crowdfunding campaign for Chabad Lubavitch of Laramie, visit

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