Category Archives: 2021
Maurine Kornfeld was born in Great Falls, Montana, in 1921. She graduated from Great Falls High School. She now lives in Los Angeles. Her Dad and Mom, Morris and May Kornfeld, had a haberdashery on Central Avenue next to the Paris Store, where Electric City Coffee is now located.
She is a senior international swimming champion, and a Docent at the LA County Art Museum. She drives her car everywhere. In fact she was my baby sitter in the middle 1930’s. At 100 she is amazing.
Submitted by Jerry Weissman
I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving and are enjoying the early Hanukkah this year!
It is time to start thinking about helping out at the Mercy Home for Christmas Eve and Day. As you may or may not know, our Jewish community volunteers to staff the women’s domestic violence shelter in town for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so that the staff can have a day to celebrate with their families. If you have never done this before, we can get you a brief training. It is really easy, rewarding, and a great Mitzvah for the staff at the Mercy Home. Just keep in mind that, because it is a women’s domestic violence shelter, men are welcome if they are with a female. Due to the sensitive nature of the situation, we just can’t schedule males by themselves at the facility.
Please text, call or email Wendy Weissman to sign up for a shift.
Shifts are as follows:
12/24 2-5 PM
12/24 5-8 PM
12/24 8-11 PM
12/25 8-11 AM
12/25 11 AM to 2 PM
12/25 2-5 PM
These hours may be rearranged as needed to cover the necessary shifts.
Hope to see you at the Mercy Home. And thank you for your time and dedication to this worthy project.
Submitted by Wendy Weissman
Phone or Text: (406) 868:5712
Donald Neil Cherry, 1933-2021, 5694-5782, 88, of Great Falls, passed away on Monday, November 29, 2021. A Graveside Service will be held on Thursday, December 2nd at 12:00 Noon at Mount Olivet Cemetery with full Military Honors. A Celebration of Life is planned for a later date. A full obituary will be available later.
5:00 P.M.: Hanukkah Across Montana, on Zoom:
Dial-in: 1 669 900 6833
Meeting ID: 838 8759 1318
Our next scheduled Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat services will be the 5th night of Hanukkah, December 3, which is also the Christmas Stroll.
At services in November, those present discussed having a small gathering at the Bethel to celebrate Hanukkah. We would gather after lighting the Diane Kaplan Memorial Chanukiah in front of the Civic Center. The thought was that each person would bring food for themselves. Eldon said he would bring individual drinks, probably apple juice or something similar. Stuart said he would bring individual portions of wrapped challah or rolls.
A few years ago, I got some pieces of granite or quartz and we made our own Chanukiot. I am going to try to obtain some granite or quartz and the other things necessary to make the Chanukiot again. If you plan to attend, please bring your own Chanukiah so that we can light a plethora of Chanukiot for this celebration.
Laura has checked with the Bethel and they sent her approval, so we are good to go. We would have a service, eat our own food and then make the “craft” if I am able to find the materials to make them. I’m sure we would be out of there by about 8:30 – maybe a little time to clean up.
The address for the Bethel is 1009 18th Avenue Southwest. click here for map and directions.
Hope to see you there. Happy Chanukkah!
Contributed by Nadyne Weissman
We look forward to re-establishing our annual in-person celebration. Bert
The Great Falls Hebrew Association, Aitz Chaim Community would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all veterans. We as individuals and as a nation owe you a debt of gratitude we can never repay.
We all know that the cost of our freedom isn’t free. Thank you for your service.
I’m writing to you in my capacity as president of the Montana Jewish Project. This Helena-based non-profit has been working for the past seven months to re-acquire Helena’s historic synagogue and return it to Jewish use. Today, we signed a sale purchase agreement with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Helena, who has used the historic synagogue for administrative offices since 1981 but no longer has need of it. This agreement is a milestone, but only a first step.
Many native Montanans don’t know about the state’s rich history of Jewish life. Helena’s early Jews built Temple Emanu-El in 1891. The cornerstone with the Hebrew date (5651) was laid by Montana’s Governor Toole in a huge gathering that drew crowds from across the Northwest. In his speech, congregation president Herman Gans described the majestic building on Ewing Street as a “gift to ornament the city we love.” Temple Emanu-El’s congregation were early adopters of Reform Judaism and hired a Rabbi, who later led New York’s largest Reform synagogue.
Unfortunately, two years later, the Panic of 1893 cratered Montana’s economy. The Jewish community managed to hang on to Temple Emanu-El but couldn’t afford salaries, so lay leaders took over services.
In 1935, the Depression continued Montana’s economic decline, and meanwhile the local Jewish population had also dwindled. Recognizing they could no longer maintain the building, the congregation “sold” the synagogue to the state for $1, asking only that it be used for a “good and social purpose.” The state converted the once-38-foot-high sanctuary into two floors of social services offices, and a basement of classrooms became a third floor of offices. “De-sacralizing” the building for government use included removing its distinctive onion domes and the Hebrew inscription “Gate to the Eternal” from the front. In 1981, the state sold the building to the Roman Catholic Diocese.
Now in 2021, Bishop Vetter is moving into new headquarters, and he recognized the importance of returning the building to Jewish life. We reached out to him, and we are overjoyed to have signed a contract to buy Temple Emanu-El.
Our vision is to create the first Jewish cultural center in Montana, also potentially serving Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska. Helena’s Jewish community has been growing steadily, but we recognize that it is small, and our members approach Judaism in different ways. Rather than attempt to form one congregation from the small many, our founding goal is to establish a center for Jewish life, culture, and education that radiates beyond Helena. I’ve been working with the JCC Association of North America for ideas for future programming, education, and events that will benefit all of Montana’s Jewish communities. We also will have space available for regular services for Helena’s Jews. We envision Jewish cooking classes and book groups, education for children and adults, and speakers on Jewish history and ethics.
We’d like to explore the possibility of collaborating with different Jewish communities around the state to join you online for services. For example, my family have long been members of Beth Shalom in Bozeman, and we plan to remain so. This project should not replace or erode the vibrant collaboration among Montana’s Jewish communities; rather it should add something new that will enhance Jewish life in Montana.
We also want to continue the legacy of Temple Emanu-El. Even in 1935, at its lowest point, the congregation donated the synagogue’s pews to the African Baptist Church across Helena, looking outward to find where they could help. Our core value is tikkun olam, and we will partner with other organizations that share this mission.
Right now, we’re focused on raising the funds to complete the purchase of the building, but we’re also working hard to lay groundwork for connecting with like-minded partners. Whether it is by providing the space for after-school youth mental health groups, sharing office space with other non-profits that value acceptance, offering eldercare, making our space available for MAJCO or Hadassah meetings, or hosting open cultural and educational events, we envision active collaboration with our partners to meet community needs. We are also consulting with Montana historians to create an exhibition open to the public that celebrates the unique history of Jewish life in Montana and to inform our consideration of the synagogue as an historical treasure.
Judaism puts its focus on community before buildings, and in our case, we have come to realize these are inextricably connected here in Helena, where we have been homeless. We see Temple Emanu-El as a living symbol, one that connects Montana’s past with our growing present Jewish population and with our future. Consider: Montana is one of only two states that does not have a Jewish center or synagogue in its capital. Montana’s politics have taken an alarming shift. Anti-Semitism is on the rise (for example. the neo-Nazi campaign in Whitefish and anti-Semitic leafleting in Bozeman. We believe that re-acquiring and openly existing in our historic home as Montana’s first Jewish cultural center is a powerful action we can take to counter these forces.
My board members and I would like to get your feedback and ideas for the Montana Jewish Project. We hope we can earn your trust and council on how best to nurture the project and grow together in our vision.
May we meet with you in the coming weeks? What is the most convenient way for you that we can begin this conversation? Phone? Video conference? Sitting down to coffee in your city?
Rebecca Stanfel, President
Montana Jewish Project
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PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THIS UPCOMING EVENT: BUILDING A COMMUNITY SUKKAH AT GIBSON PARK ON SUNDAY, 09/26/2021 AT 11AM
Sukkot begins the evening of Monday, September 20, and ends the evening of Monday, September 27.
The Aitz Chaim community is having a Sukkot gathering at Gibson Park, on Sunday, September 26 beginning at 11am, weather permitting. We will build a temporary Sukkah. Everyone attending should bring their own lunch as there will be no sharing of food.
We will use a piece of wheat and a lemon in lieu of a lulav and etrog.
Although this is an outdoor event, it is not a COVID risk-free event, so attendees are encouraged but not required to wear masks and to social distance from one another, according to your comfort level.
CDC Guidelines Concerning How To Protect Yourself and Others From COVID-19