Berel Paltiel’s older brothers had to pose as American tourists to transport banned religious books to Jewish congregations in Soviet Russia.
All Paltiel had to do to transport his religious books to his new congregation was ship them from Brooklyn to Edmonds.
But in every other way, he is continuing his family’s legacy.
Berel Paltiel, 26, has replaced Zevi Goldberg as the rabbi at Chabad of Snohomish County, an Orthodox Jewish congregation based in Edmonds. The new rabbi, his wife, Goldie, 25, and daughters Chaya, 17 months old, and Risha, 4 months old, moved into an Edmonds apartment less than a month ago.
They are in the process of setting up a space to hold services and classes.
Both Paltiels come from families who have worked tirelessly to connect Jewish congregations around the world and to help people discover their roots.
People have asked the couple why they left relatives, friends and the comfort of their Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. The answer is simple: They came to Edmonds to build a community.
Chabad of Snohomish County is part of Chabad Lubavitch, a worldwide branch of Orthodox Judaism that originated in Russia.
“Yes, we are Orthodox, but we don’t judge, and we welcome all Jews to grow at their own pace,” Berel Paltiel said.
Snohomish County is home to some Jewish families, but this community is much smaller and more spread out than what the Paltiels are used to.
They both grew up in Crown Heights, a Brooklyn neighborhood with so many Jewish residents that every supermarket is stocked with kosher food.
“To give you an idea of how Jewish it is, every (Friday evening) there is a siren going off to let everybody know when Shabbat is about to start,” Paltiel said.
Shabbat is the Jewish day of rest that starts at sundown on Friday and lasts until Saturday night.
The faithful have to follow many rules on the day of rest, including not driving and not buying things.* “If you forget to buy something before Shabbat begins, you are pretty much stuck without it,” Goldie Paltiel said.
The family had to make many adjustments when moving from Brooklyn. Berel Paltiel misses the vibrant synagogue in his neighborhood where he got to share daily prayers with 1,000 men.
The Paltiels may miss New York a little, but they are excited about the opportunity to get to know the local community.
They can’t get enough of the friendly people, the fresh air and the lush, green landscape here in Snohomish County.
“There’s a slower pace here, but we like it,” Goldie Paltiel said.
To learn more about Chabad of Snohomish County or about Goldie and Berel Paltiel, go to www.jewishsnohomish.com.
*Correction, June 20, 2012: This article originally stated the family could buy things on Shabbat.