Author Archives: Joy Breslauer


Thanks to all of those who volunteered to help out at the Mercy Home, domestic violence shelter, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. All shifts are full and 2 people called to help and after all of the shifts were filled. Kudos to those who are volunteering and to those who called to help and the shifts were full.

I did go visit the Mercy Home on Friday to finalize our plans and train a new volunteer, and discovered that there will be about 4 women and about 7 kids at the shelter over the Christmas Holiday. One woman has 4 kids all under 4, and another woman has 2 kids, one of which is handicapped. I hope to make this Christmas a special and safe one for them.

The Mercy Home is in need of clothing for some of these kids and women. If you are able, please help out by donating the following items:

  • Boys pants and shirts size 6/7: 10 sets are needed
  • Boys pants and shirts size 4/5: 5 sets are needed
  • 2 ladies hoodies size 2XL
  • 1 ladies hoodie size XL

If you are volunteering you can bring them to your shift, or if you are not volunteering you can bring them to the YWCA, and tell them that they are for boys and women at the shelter.

Thanks to all that are helping.

Wendy Weissman

Hanukkah Reflects America’s Religious Liberty: Vignettes From Montana, Idaho, and Utah

Hanukkah Reflects America’s Religious Liberty: Vignettes From Montana, Idaho, and Utah
Brought to you by
By Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut, Ph.D , 12/18/2014

In 1974 in Philadelphia, a small menorah was lit in front of Independence Hall, home to the iconic Liberty Bell. The menorah was crude and made of wood. Five people attended what is now considered to be the first Chabad-Lubavitch public-menorah lighting. Regardless of the constitutional implications of this action, the idea of religious freedom embodied by the Hanukkah holiday deeply resonates with the core principles of American democracy. The attention currently lavished by American Jews on Hanukkah makes it difficult to imagine that there was once a time when it was a minor holiday. Yet, across America, Hanukkah’s magnification as a Jewish holiday now has broader implications.

In recent years, Hanukkah has evolved into a symbol of religious liberty for all Americans. In 165 BCE, after the Maccabees, a minority, successfully revolted against the majority – the Syrian kingdom led by Antiochus Epiphanes IV – there was a rededication of the Jerusalem Temple and the rekindling of its golden menorah for eight miraculous days. This origin story naturally translates into contemporary American motifs of religious liberty and survival represented by a Hanukkah festival of lights. The story of Hanukkah also recalls the first pilgrims who arrived on America’s shores after fleeing religious oppression in Europe.

Three vignettes from Montana, Idaho, and Utah exemplify how the holiday’s underlying Jewish message of religious freedom is now embraced for its strong American values.

Consider this: the largely non-Jewish residents of Billings, MT, used the menorah as a means to fight the anti-Semitism and bigotry that surfaced in the town in 1993. In December of that year, Isaac and Tami Schnitzer placed a Hanukkah menorah in their window. A town resident hurled a cinder block through the Schnitzers’ window and threatened other families and institutions displaying menorahs. The townspeople decided to take a collective stand against bigotry. Through a campaign waged by the Billings Gazette and the town’s sheriff, families and businesses were asked to display pictures of menorahs in their homes and jobs. People responded so enthusiastically that by the time the campaign concluded, an estimated 10,000 people had answered the call. This community-wide protest dramatically decreased the incident of hate crimes in Billings.

Indicative of Hanukkah’s mainstream popularity, even in states with small Jewish populations like Idaho, then-Governor Dirk Kempthorne signed a symbolic proclamation on December 1, 2004, naming December 7, 2004, National Menorah Day in the State of Idaho. The governor declared, “the message of Chanukah resonates quite powerfully with the fundamental principles of American life, as this nation was founded on the principles of hope and religious freedom.” The proclamation reads, in part:
WHEREAS, This year [2004] marks the 25th anniversary of the National Menorah which was first lit in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter and given its name by President Ronald Reagan in 1982; and
WHEREAS, Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is among the most widely celebrated of Jewish holidays;
NOW THEREFORE, I DIRK KEMPTHORNE, Governor of the State of Idaho, do hereby proclaim, December 7, 2004, to be national Menorah Day in Idaho.

Finally, the Americanization of Hanukkah is evidenced by the popularity of
“Eight Days of Hanukkah,”

a song written by Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, a Mormon with an affection for Jews and a love of Barbra Streisand. A video of the song debuted via Tablet, an online Jewish cultural magazine, just prior to Hanukkah in 2009.

The production of this song was a multicultural endeavor. The writing was inspired by a challenge to Senator Hatch from journalist Jeffrey Goldberg. Hatch’s collaborator was Jewish songwriter Madeline Stone, who hails from the Upper West of Manhattan and now writes Christian music in Nashville. She said, “I’m a pretty liberal Democrat. But it became more about the music and the friendship for me and Orrin.” The song was performed by Rasheeda Azar, a Syrian-American vocalist from Indiana. [According to Goldberg, “Rasheeda’s participation closes a circle of sorts, since the Syrian King Antiochus was, of course, the antagonist in the story of the Maccabean revolt.”]

Senator Hatch calls “Eight Days of Hanukkah” a “gift to the Jewish people.” He said his ultimate goal would be for Streisand to perform one of his songs. “It would be good for her and good for me,” Hatch said, while acknowledging that given her outspoken liberalism, “that union might require another miracle.”

Submitted by Brian Schnitzer


Yesterday, while celebrating Chanukah at the State Capitol in Helena, I was particularly inspired by the words shared by my colleague Rabbi Berry Nash of Missoula. You see, Chanukah has so many interesting angles, so much depth and so many beautiful customs, at times we can forget what the miracle is all about. Rabbi Nash posed a simple question “Why is Chanukah an eight day festival? There was enough oil for one day and so it should’ve been a seven day festival to commemorate only the miracle days?”

His answer, based on Chassidic philosophy, was powerful: seven represents the cycle of nature; seven days in a week, seven musical notes, seven years in a Sabbatical cycle, human’s seven emotional attributes. Eight, coming after the seven cycle, represents the supernatural; a transition from the finite to the infinite. Lighting Menorah for eight days inspires us to recognize the Divine Providence in the story of Chanukah and in our lives today. If we allow the Infinite to penetrate our hearts, souls, homes and communities, we will inch closer to a time when the the finite and infinite will fully sync with the coming of Mashiach.

In this week’s Torah portion, Mikeitz, we read about that same Divine Providence guiding Sir Joseph Jacobson (AKA Jacob’s son). How in the world does a tormented boy who lost his mother at a very young age, sold into slavery by his own brothers, accused maliciously by his master’s wife of attempted rape, become the viceroy of Egypt, the greatest empire of the time? It was logically impossible but with the hand of G-d guiding him, it was even probable. When we question our capabilities as an individual to serve G-d while challenged by so many obstacles, when we question the Jewish people’s chance of surviving as a unique G-d fearing people and to be a Light unto the Nations, we must remember that our Operating System is Infinite and therefore we can and will persevere.

Supernatural is the way to go; Macabee/Joseph style!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L’Chaim!!!

Wishing you and yours a Shabbat Shalom and a bright Chanukah!
Your friends @ Chabad Lubavitch,
Rabbi Chaim, Chavie, Chaya, Zeesy & Menny


The full Chanukah event video featuring Jackie Mason, the Maccabeats, politicians and numerous entertainers is now available in its entirety at for free for all of Chanukah.

Please share with your members so they can enjoy the inspiration and entertainment for this Chanukah.

Happy Chanukah!

Adam Nesenoff


Please join us for the annual Chanukkah party at Stuart and Hillary’s house, 615 3rd Ave North, on Sunday, December 21. The party officially begins at 3:00, but come early with your latke mix and start frying so we are ready to eat at 3:00. If you want to help decorate Stuart’s house (they can use some help), please contact Stuart to arrange a time to come over earlier that day. His number is 868-8936.

Applesauce and sour cream will be provided, so bring a beverage, dessert, salad, and/or latke mix to share!

The party will conclude at the civic center at 5:30 for the daily menorah lighting at the civic center.

If you have any questions, please contact Stuart at 868-8936.

See you there!


Candle Lighting and MAJCO this Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda, noon

The Capitol Rotunda will be the site for our annual Chanukiah lighting this coming Thursday, December 18. Tables will be set up for the community chanukiahs and if additional tables are needed let me know so I can arrange.

Rabbis and spiritual leaders have been asked to speak and it appears that the lieutenant governor, Angela McLean, will join us. Governor Bullock is unavailable.

We have reserved Room 172 beginning at 1 pm for a meeting of the MAJCO board.

Looking forward to seeing many of you and hoping the forecast for clear skies holds.

Bert Chessin
Missoula, Montana



Chag Chanukah Sameach

Light One Candle

Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks their light didn’t die;
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied;
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand;
And light one candle for the wisdom to know
That the peacemaker’s time is at hand!

Don’t let the light go out,
It’s lasted for so many years!
Don’t let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears!

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe;
Light one candle for those who are suff’ring
A pain they learned so long ago;
Light one candle for all we believe in,
That anger not tear us apart;
And light one candle to bind us together
With peace as the song in our heart!

Don’t let the light go out,
It’s lasted for so many years!
Don’t let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears!

What is the memory that’s valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What’s the commitment to those who have died?
We cry out “they’ve not died in vain,”
We have come this far, always believing
That justice will somehow prevail;
This is the burden, This is the promise,
This is why we will not fail!

Don’t let the light go out,
It’s lasted for so many years!
Don’t let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears!

Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!

Submitted by Brian Schnitzer


Once upon a time, a powerful Emperor of the Rising Sun advertised for a new Chief Samurai. After a year, only three applied for the job: a Japanese, a Chinese, and a Jewish Samurai.

“Demonstrate your skills!” commanded the Emperor.

The Japanese samurai stepped forward, opened a tiny box, and released a fly. He drew his samurai sword and *Swish!* the fly fell to the floor, neatly divided in two!

“What a feat!” said the Emperor. “Number Two Samurai, show me what you can do.”

The Chinese samurai smiled confidently, stepped forward and opened a tiny box, releasing a fly. He drew his samurai sword and * Swish! * Swish! * The fly fell to the floor neatly quartered.

“That is skill!” nodded the Emperor. “How are you going to top that, Number three Samurai?”

The Jewish samurai, Obi-wan Cohen, stepped forward, opened a tiny box releasing one fly, drew his samurai sword and *Swoooooosh! * flourished his sword so mightily that a gust of wind blew through the room. But the fly was still buzzing around!

In disappointment, the Emperor said, “What kind of skill is that? The fly isn’t even dead.”

“Dead? DEAD?” replied the Jewish Samurai. Dead is easy …but circumcised ?!

Submitted by Elliott Magalnick


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 704 other followers