Jews have lived and worked in the Wood River Valley since at least 1881. In the valley’s earliest days, they served as miners, merchants, and elected officials, contributing proudly to the growing region at the same time as they experienced the unique challenges that accompanied being Jewish on the American frontier. As the valley evolved over the century that followed, its Jewish residents evolved with it, becoming sheep ranchers and skiers and, in 1983, formally establishing the Wood River Jewish Community (WRJC) as a congregation of their own. Today, the WRJC is constructing a synagogue, which will become the first in central Idaho when it opens—a testament both to the spirit of the region and the strength of the Jewish community that has called it home for more than 140 years.
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Join The Community Library and the WRJC for an evening exploring the Jewish history of the Wood River Valley with Ari Goldstein, who has researched and written about the subject extensively. Goldstein worked for three years at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage, first as a project manager and then as the senior producer of the museum’s public programs. Ari has served as a Glass Leadership Fellow at the Anti-Defamation League and a Conference Committee Member for the Council of American Jewish Museums. He has a bachelor’s degree in Government and Jewish Civilization from Georgetown University.
Image: Friedman family stores on Hailey’s Main Street in the 1950s, courtesy of the Blaine County Historical Museum.