OU Kosher: Rabbi Avraham Juravel

I’d like to talk about one of the mainstays of OU Kosher: Rabbi Avraham Juravel, who serves as supervisor of technical services and as “honorary chief rabbi of Idaho Falls.” For more than two decades, Rabbi Juravel has been overseeing technical services for OU Kosher and traveling to Idaho four times a year in order to inspect over a dozen OU-certified companies there that manufacture potato products.

Idaho Falls is a community of 56,000, about four hours from Boise. There are about ten Jewish families. Years ago, Rabbi Juravel was informed of a local store run by a Jewish woman. Visiting, Rabbi Juravel found the woman ecstatic just to see another Jew. From there, Rabbi Juravel went on to teach classes on Judaism at this woman’s home. Just gathering together was a tremendous source of chizuk for the handful of Jews in this Mormon community. He ended up having much positive influence, including assisting the shopkeeper in sending her children on Birthright trips to Israel.

In time, Rabbi Juravel was appointed Honorary Chief Rabbi of Idaho Falls by then-mayor Linda Milam (“honorary” because he doesn’t reside there). Official certification of this appointment proudly hangs in Rabbi Juravel’s office at the OU; he was also given a jacket bearing the designation by one of the town’s potato companies.

In this unofficial capacity, Rabbi Juravel has provided Jewish education and pastoral counseling to a community otherwise bereft of Yiddishkeit. We thank him not only for his decades of service to the OU but for providing a Jewish lifeline to a forgotten and neglected enclave of our brethren. We can credit Rabbi Juravel that a generation of young Jews in an Idaho town has been introduced to their heritage.