FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION, THE MONTANA JEWISH PROJECT
From Generation to Generation
August 25, 2022
Dear MJP Supporters,
We did it!
This is the email we have been dreaming of writing to you for a year and a half. Today MJP is closing on Montana’s first synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, and returning it to the Jewish community after 87 years.
We could not have accomplished this milestone without your support. We are grateful beyond words for your donations, your encouragement, your ideas, and your help.
Without the incredible community support we received, MJP would not be reclaiming this building. Every dollar donated, every collection raised from a synagogue or church, every fundraiser held in MJP’s honor, every volunteer hour, and every email sharing hope and ideas helped bring us to this joyful day.
Read on for more details.
- Please join us
- WHEN? Tomorrow, Friday, August 26, at 10 AM
- WHERE? At the synagogue, 515 Ewing, Helena, MT 59601
- WHAT? Ffor a ceremonial signing of the closing paperwork, which we are also inviting media to attend. Weather permitting, we will be outside, right in front of this majestic building. We will be there with bells on!
Our journey—and our work—are just beginning. We are eager to launch more statewide programming including education, Jewish cultural events, interfaith outreach, community programs, and more.
Stay tuned for future emails about ways to get involved in volunteering, participating in programs, and supporting our ongoing work. We would also love to hear from you about what you are looking for in the coming year’s programming. We can’t wait to continue this journey with you.
With gratitude as always,
Our new home!
Adapted from today’s press release
Montana Jewish Project completes purchase of Montana’s oldest synagogue
After nearly a year of fundraising, the Montana Jewish Project (MJP) bought back Helena’s Temple Emanu-El and will return it to Jewish use for the first time since 1935.
Roman Catholic Bishop Austin Vetter played a key role in the sale. With his staff, he met with MJP for months, as MJP renegotiated from buying historic Temple Emanu-El and surrounding properties to buying only the synagogue. MJP will also lease the open lawn next door to the historic synagogue for community use
“It’s been my pleasure to work with the Montana Jewish Project through this process. It’s vital for all of us that people of faith focus on the good that we can do together instead of our differences. My prayers are with them and Montana’s Jewish Community for God’s blessing in this new endeavor,” Bishop Vetter said.
We are grateful for Bishop Austin Vetter for his enthusiasm and support. He worked with us for many months, and extended closing deadlines twice. We are also grateful to the more than 2,000 donors from Helena and across Montana and the United States who made this dream a reality. Without their generosity and their gifts that ranged from $5 to $100,000, we know we would not be here today. We’re also thankful for the interfaith support we received from many Montana synagogues and churches, as well as from Montana businesses. This was truly a community-wide effort.
The Montana Jewish Project is an all-volunteer-led organization, founded by members of Helena’s Jewish community over a year ago. After entering into a landmark purchase agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena in November 2021, MJP has been raising funds to reacquire the historic building once known as Temple Emanu-El..
We know our work is only just starting. We can’t wait to fulfill our mission: to create a statewide center for Jewish life, enhance interfaith opportunities, combat antisemitism in Montana schools, and bring to reality the Jewish value of “repairing the world.”
MJP has big plans. Once funding is secured, MJP will hire a traveling director of programming who will oversee education, speakers, cultural events, and foster a sense of larger community for all of Montana’s Jews. In addition, MJP will create curricula about the history of Jewish Montana and the realities of being Jewish in the Treasure State for schools across the state. Returning to the first home for Jewish life in Montana will anchor future generations to the rich history of Judaism in the state.
Helena was one of only four state capitals in the nation without a synagogue or Jewish Center. We’ve just changed that. We’re also excited for Helena’s Jewish community to have a permanent place to meet for religious observance, cultural events, and community-growing.
Now that we have the building as our base, we want to pivot and immediately transition to helping Jewish life in Montana thrive. Our volunteers have launched programming already, but it’s important we hire a professional who can oversee this and create new cultural pathways for Montana Jews to connect to their traditions. Now that we have this incredible building, it is essential we keep community support.
We welcome all our supporters, the Jewish community across Montana and here in Helena, and the broader community to celebrate with us. We have worked to carry forward the legacy of Montana’s earliest Jewish settlers, who built Temple Emanu-El despite the obstacles they faced.
We are planning a rededication and celebration at the synagogue later in the fall. Stay tuned for more details on this.
Follow us across the below social media channels to stay up-to-date on the latest MJP happenings as well as learn interesting historic facts about Jewish people and communities across Montana.
Copyright © 2021 Montana Jewish Project, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
PO Box 491, Helena, MT 59624