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Welcome to the Wood River Jewish Community. Please visit us at The WRJC Lewis Family Center, and whether you are a member or just visiting Sun Valley, join us for Shabbat. Come to our annual summer picnic. We welcome you and your family. 


We are a caring community dedicated to Tikkun Olam, repairing and improving the world, teaching the joys of Jewish living, and sharing our historical vision: to be a light unto the nations and our community in The Wood River Valley.


We believe in challenging the Jewish mind and soul through a creative and participatory experience of Jewish living. As a community, we join with and are welcomed by the Wood River Valley interfaith communities in caring for the greater good of our community and the world. 

Because The Wood River Community is filled with Jews from all over the U.S. and Canada, we all chose Sun Valley as a place of physical beauty and spiritual renewal. Because, as Jews, we value community, we came together nearly 50 years ago to form the Wood River Jewish Community.  

In 2023, we opened our first permanent home, The WRJC Lewis Family Center. Our beginning is secured. Our future is uncharted. We have dedicated leadership, tremendous energy, and a warm, loving community filled with a desire to be there for each other and to make a difference in our world. 


We welcome you to visit us.  We welcome you to join us.  We welcome you as part of the WRJC

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The WRJC is a Welcoming Congregation
Our Congregation is a member of the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) and we are a non-denominational community.  For many of us, the Wood River Valley is our full time home.  For others,  we live seasonal in Sun Valley and reside throughout the U.S. and Canada, but spend anywhere from a few weeks to many months in the Valley.  

WRJC members identify with Judaism in many different ways - from very observant to "cultural" Jews (who identify as Jewish but rarely participate in spiritual activities). We offer a range of programs and activities to meet the diverse needs of our community. 

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The Wonderful History of the Jewish Community in Idaho

The Sun Valley area was originally a mineral mining and sheep ranching community. Averill Harriman and the Union Pacific Railroad helped create Sun Valley on the map. as a winter and summer resort in 1937. 

The Jewish community was, even at that time, no stranger to Idaho. The oldest synagogue west of the Mississippi River was built in Boise in 1895, founded by Moses Alexander, who served as Mayor of Boise and, in 1914, became, as Governor of Idaho, the first Jewish Governor in the United States. S.J. Friedman arrived in Idaho in 1869 to raise cattle and sheep and was elected Hailey’s first mayor. Friedman Memorial Airport, the gateway to Sun Valley, is the only airport outside of Israel named for a Jew and was built on land donated by the Friedman children and named in memory of their father.


WRJC Comes into Existence
The WRJC began to form in 1955, which began with the nucleus of a nascent Jewish community.  As the community grew, they celebrated Seders and Chanukah festivals at the Sun Valley Lodge or local restaurants.  Members of the community led services until, during the 1980’s, the community invited rabbis to visit the valley to conduct Holiday and Friday night services for the community. 

Our Jewish community received its first Torah in 1989, a Holocaust Torah entrusted to us by the Westminster Synagogue in London.  Our 150 year old scroll survived WWII in one of the desolated synagogues of Bohemia or Moravia, a remnant of the lost communities of Czechoslovakia.  Our scroll comes from Strasnice, a town near Prague, and contains calligraphy flourishes and oversized letters reflecting its Kabbalistic origin.  We meticulously restored our Torah and celebrated its return to health in 2003.


Our Past Leads Us Forward

Initially founded by a small group of Jewish families, many of whom remain active today, the Wood River Jewish community has grown tremendously. In the 1990's our community grew steadily spiritually and culturally. Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel spent a scholar's weekend with us, and prominent Jewish leaders addressed the community. 


In 1998, in honor of a son's Bar Mitzvah, the Koffler family donated the WRJC's first Ark for our Torahs crafted by a Ketchum artist. The community selected Rabbi Martin Levy as its first full-time spiritual leader of the Wood River Jewish Community. Responding to our growing needs, we secured space in downtown Ketchum as a center for the community. Our offices house our children's and adult library and our collection of Judaica, and from this center, we educate our children, teach adult education classes, and host the community.

Before our building, The WRJC Lewis Family Center, St. Thomas Episcopal Church offered us their sanctuary for Friday night and High Holiday services, and we rent space for our yearly Chanukah celebrations, communal Passover Seders, Purim, and Sukkot celebrations. Our annual picnic attracts more than 100 participants every summer. We have a robust adult education program, developed a Book Club for lively discussion, and created a Caring Committee to be a helping presence for our ill and grieving members. In the summer, we have our Jewish Bike Brigade, open to the membership, that bicycles on different paths in the Valley every week in the summer.

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Our Present and Our Future

Today, as we search for our full-time Rabbi, we have had amazing full-time, part-time, and guest Rabbis. One of our most prominent guest Rabbi's from San Francisco Morris Hershman passed away in the fall of 2023. Our most recent part-time Rabbi/Cantor Robbi Sherwin was with WRJC for nearly 5 years and brought many blessings to our community. We have had a range of other rabbis such as Rabbi Martin Levy who today is in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Rabbi Jim Mirel who joined us from Temple B'nai Torah in Bellevue, Washington. 


Rabbi Barney Brickner, a son and grandson of famed reform Rabbis- - including Balfour Brickner, served as our community's permanent Rabbi from 2007 until 2008. 


The WRJC's future is very bright, with a permanent home, a growing community and the ability to learn, worship and build community in one of the most beautiful spots in the world.

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