The Pinson family is moving to Chabad of the Rockies

Best wishes to Rabbi Dovid and Devorah Pinson and their family as they join Chabad of the Rockies. (Photo supplied).

By Regan Treewater-Lipes

(AJNews) – Recently, the Edmonton Jewish community was devastated to receive the news that Rabbi Dovid Pinson and Rebbetzin Devorah Pinson, and the entire Pinson family, would be relocating. After twenty wonderful years at Chabad Lubavitch of Edmonton, Team Pinson are moving on from their positions. “We are most definitely Edmontonians,” commented Rabbi Pinson during a recent interview with the Alberta Jewish News. “All five of our children were born here and call Edmonton home,” added the Rebbetzin.

In June, a community-wide women’s event honoured the outstanding work of Rebbetzin Pinson and paid tribute to all that the entire family has done to help contribute to a thriving united Jewish Edmonton. The gathering took place at the Fantasyland Hotel, and was so well-attended, that by the time the official program began, there was standing room only. Daniella Asbell served as emcee, and the feature performance was captivatingly delivered by Mushka Pinson. An entire ballroom of women, all starstruck by Mushka’s musical talent and skill on the piano, sang a compilation of classic Jewish favorites, and some lesser-known tunes as well.

Rebbetzin Chaya-Sarah Blachman and Rabbah Gila Caine offered inspirational words of gratitude to the Pinson family, and following their example, others took turns expressing their thanks and sharing fond memories from the past twenty fabulous years. “It was amazing! There were young women there that we’ve watched grow up, and others that were in camp years ago that also came,” the Rebbetzin offered thoughtfully. “The outpour of warmth meant so much to all of us.”

Many tears were shed all around, but everyone there was unified by their love for the Pinson family and their devotion to cultivating greater connections to Judaism.  Mushka’s heartfelt concert, the speeches, impromptu and not, and schmoozing over nibblies were brought together by community members from all denominations of observance and was a universal celebration of the work achieved by the Pinson family.

This ending, is, in fact, an exciting and momentous new beginning – not just for Team Pinson, but for the entire Alberta Jewish community! Every year millions of visitors flock to the Canadian Rocky Mountains for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. These visitors come from all around the world to behold the breathtaking majesty of the scenery in Banff, Canmore, and the surrounding hamlets. In 1988, when Rabbi Menachem Matusof and Rebbetzin Rochel Matusof first settled in Calgary, the goal was always to grow in order to better serve the spiritual needs of Alberta’s Jewish population. In 1993 Rabbi Matusof hired Rabbi Ari Drelich and Rebbetzin Rifka Drelich who have dedicated themselves to Edmonton’s Jewry, and now the Chabad network of Alberta is blossoming even further. Through the creativity, innovation, imagination, and inspiration of the Matusofs and Team Pinson, there will now be a Chabad Lubavitch of the Rockies!

“The Canadian Rockies are a top tourist destination, and we want to help see to the spiritual wellbeing of Jewish visitors from all over the world,” explained Rabbi Pinson with great enthusiasm. “We will be able to make sure that people have easier access to kosher food and facilities while on vacation and help them to maintain their connection to Judaism even away from home.”

The Rabbi went on to point out that Canmore is growing rapidly, and many Jewish families are settling in the area.  “For Jews that call the Rockies home, we will provide a sense of community.” The Rebbetzin added: “People can enjoy the physical beauty of Hashem’s world, and we can support their spiritual connection.”  Different locations around Canmore are still being scouted, but Chabad Lubavitch of the Rockies is already active, and hitting the ground running.

When asked about the crucial role that this new Chabad location will play, Rabbi Matusof, Senior Rabbi and Executive Director of Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta, commented: “A living object must grow! With sixteen Chabad Shluchim (rabbis and rebbetzins) serving the Alberta Jewish community, the workload is only increasing, as the needs of individuals and communities are tremendous. We simply reached a point, that the needs and requests coming our way, are more than we can handle at the Alberta Headquarters. Let’s face it. Canmore is booming. Obviously, there are Jewish people there. So, the Rebbe’s call is to make Jewish Canmore boom! The Pinson’s are the perfect couple to materialise this dream, with Hashem’s help and the Rebbe’s blessings!”

Chabad Lubavitch of the Rockies will be dedicated to the ongoing work inspired by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, but its approach and presentation might not be exactly what longtime Albertans are used to. “This cannot be only a space in a storefront and it won’t be a large campus either. We will need to be out and moving to where we are needed. We will be working with a population that resides in the area, but a big part is going to be Jewish tourists,” explained Rabbi Pinson thoughtfully.

They are still scouting locations for the new Chabad House, but once it is up and operational, there are plans to host Shabbos dinners for Jewish visitors to the area, and all holidays – everyone’s Chabad away from home.

“We will have kosher cooking facilities, and barbecues for people to make use of,” Rabbi Pinson elaborated. “If a family is on vacation and they want to barbecue, then they can come and use fully kosher equipment. We plan to build relationships with the local hotels and hope to facilitate kosher food services,” said Rabbi Pinson.

Chabad Lubavitch of the Rockies is about feeding the Jewish soul in addition to the Jewish belly. On Rosh Hashana a shofar will echo through the mountains, on Sukkot visitors far from their homes will be invited to share the holiday in the sukkah, and amidst the glittering snow of winter, Hanukkah candles will light up the night. On Passover, a Seder will be hosted, and those in the area will be able to get shmurah matzoh. Chabad of the Rockies will be a one stop shop for all things Jewish: for those who want to share in holiday traditions with a community, to those whose who daven daily.

The geographical location of the new Chabad House makes it ideal for building upon an existing program run by Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta. “The Roving Rabbi Program sends rabbis from Chabad Alberta to visit Jews in remote areas,” explained Rabbi Pinson. “Right now, this is done mostly during the summer, but we are going to run the program year-round.” Essentially, Chabad will hit the road and bring a strong Jewish connection directly to those who live in regions without established Jewish networks. “People have spiritual needs regardless of where they live.”

News travels fast, but great news moves at the speed of light. This extension of the Roving Rabbi Program will target Lethbridge, Drumheller, Slave Lake, Lloydminster, and hamlets throughout the region. Whether it’s affixing a mezuzah, helping men to put on tefillin, koshering a kitchen, bringing Shabbos candles, or assisting with any mitzvot, Chabad Lubavitch of the Rockies will be there – quite literally.

The Pinson family is heartbroken to be leaving loved ones and cherished friends behind in Edmonton, but they are grateful for the opportunity to growing the Rebbe’s vision to include this unique locale. When asked about his hopes for future collaboration between the three Chabad centers of Alberta, Rabbi Matusof commented: “Growth and success can only happen, with cooperation, having the same vision, goals, and method. Part of the success of Chabad is the global unity and one vision. The world in general, while growing, is getting smaller and more tightly united and close to each other. Alberta is no different. Obviously, the vision, goal and practices continue to be focused on programming on a provincial level, while of course focusing on the individual. The needs of Canmore are by nature different from the needs of Calgary or Edmonton, who are larger communities. Chabad of Alberta with our message of caring of sharing, will continue and expand serving the communities as one Torah – one province for all, while attending to the individual’s needs and desires.”

The future is bright, but this is also a moment to reflect for the Pinson family: to take grateful inventory of all they were able to contribute to Chabad Lubavitch of Edmonton. When Rabbi Ari Drelich first welcomed them onto his team they could not have hoped for a better community to call home, but now they will be able to grow Alberta’s connection to Judaism in the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s vision even further.  As grateful as Edmontonian’s are to the Pinson family, they too are grateful to the Edmonton Jewish community.

“We grew and learned so much here,” expressed Rabbi Pinson with tangible sincerity.  Both Rabbi and Rebbetzin Pinson cherish the opportunity that Rabbi Drelich gave them twenty years ago, and they say their hearts are full with gratitude as Rabbi and Rebbetzin Matusof have now entrusted them with the spiritual wellbeing of such a diverse and varied demographic. “People sometimes say that we are ‘kid people’ because of what we do with youth programming,” said Rabbi Pinson. “But I really think we are ‘people people.’  We build relationships with the families: the children and the adults.” As Jewish families flock to this tourist destination now, they can rest assured that there is a strong, and caring Jewish presence to connect with.

As the Jewish year comes to a close, and a bright new one begins, there is much to eagerly anticipate. To help this new centre for Jewish life thrive and flourish, the greater community at large is asked to please give what they can to support this noble endeavor. Jewish Albertans can now include Chabad Lubavitch of the Rockies as a stop on their family vacations as everyone wishes the Pinson the greatest success!  To stay in touch, learn more, to sign up for the mailing list, or to make an appreciated contribution, please visit

Regan Treewater-Lipes is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.

Be the first to comment on "The Pinson family is moving to Chabad of the Rockies"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.