Category Archives: Board


Dear friends,

I am not a scientist, I am a rabbi. I am not a doctor, I’m a mom and a Crohn’s patient. I am not a miracle-worker, but I know my actions have power and consequences.

If there was ever a time when we each have to take stock of how we are living our lives and how our actions could impact each other, now is the time. Consider this time in our lives like the preparation period for Yom Kippur, called “cheshbon ha-nefesh” or “accounting of our souls.”

In this moment, let us take an accounting of our actions/ma’asim so that we can then take an accounting of our souls. Ask yourselves: what am I doing that is helping to heal the world? What am I doing that is hurting the world? What can I do to preserve life?

Right now, the answer is clear. Stay home and stay safe.

While there is so much that is unknown about the COVID19 virus, there is one thing that is clear. It is spreading across the world, across the United States and across Montana. There is no place that will be untouched by the virus. The challenge is slowing down its spread so that our healthcare systems are not overwhelmed and people at risk are not able to be helped. The challenge is doing all that we can so that the fewest number of people die from this virus.

We are all responsible for doing what we can to keep ourselves safe, our loved ones and our communities safe, our state and our country protected.

So, please, if you can work from home, stay home. If you do not work regularly, stay at home. If you feel just fine, stay at home. If you are not feeling well, stay home and call your doctor.

Once we are taking care of our physical needs, we need to remember our emotional and spiritual needs. The level of anxiety is frequently high for many of us. The more we read or hear about the disease, the scarier things seem. As word arrives that people you know and care about are affected by the disease, it can be even scarier. Please take care to limit your time reading and listening about the virus and balance your day with refreshing actions like listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or doing an art project!

What I can offer to you is a listening ear, relatively quick text responses, and presence by virtual meetings. In the next couple days I will be sending out word about how we can connect virtually so that we are staying safe, socially distant, yet also virtually connected.

What to do while you are staying at home and isolating? I highly recommend that you schedule a regular time to sit in prayer or meditation to help ground your spirit and reset your nervous system. There are various apps that will offer you timers for meditative sitting or guided meditations of various themes and lengths of time. Below is website information for the Institute of Jewish Spirituality that is holding a daily sit and offering resources for spiritual comfort in troubling times.

Soon, I will be offering learning sessions on skills to manage anxiety and regulate our nervous systems as well as lessons from Jewish tradition about life, Torah, resiliency and the power of the human spirit. I am also happy to start up a study group on the basics of Jewish life, in preparation for our Adult B’nai Mitzvah celebration July 25th–virus-willing. If you want to learn about Torah, prayer, Shabbat and Jewish holidays, please email me at Even if you have had a bar/bat mitzvah in the past, I am creating a service to share each other’s learning and spiritual journeys!

There are many people in our community who have wisdom and experience to share and I would love to create a way for us all to share with each other. I will be in touch about ways we can share experiences, learn together and laugh together. We can’t hug each other but we can smile and share and support each other.

We are all in this together. If you know of someone who is ill and needs support, please reach out to them. If you know of someone who is elderly, please reach out to them. If you need something and think I might be able to help, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. You can email, text or call me at or 973-787-7846.

In closing, there are traditional prayers for waking up in the morning that help us express gratitude and remember the gift of life, health and spirit. They are below and click here for a PDF if you would like to print them out for your bedside table or morning coffee spot. I invite you to take a moment when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night, to recount your blessings and focus on the many resources we can all access, at any time, from any place.

Please stay tuned for more resources from me and Glacier Jewish Community and please stay in touch and stay safe!

With love and blessings,

Rabbi Francine Roston

Now’s the time to explore Meditation!

If you always wanted to explore meditation, now might be the time!

If you are finding yourself struggling with uncertainly and anxiety, I encourage you to consider growing or expanding your meditation practice. Daily meditation can be a way to anchor your day and help give you a sense of calm and stability in these uncertain times.

The Institute for Jewish Spirituality offers many different courses and options for study and meditation integrating Jewish tradition. I encourage you to browse around their website One of their offerings is a “Meditation Starter Kit” which includes all the tools and resources you’ll need to feel confident, prepared and inspired as you begin your Jewish meditation practice, including:
• A sample text teaching – connecting the wisdom and inspiration of scripture to everyday life
• A guided meditation practice connected to the text – that you can use again and again
• Simple tips for how to begin meditating – and how to integrate Jewish mindfulness meditation into your life
Click here for more information on the meditation guidance offered by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

A Poem & A Prayer for You

by Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

A Prayer of Hope During this Pandemic
by Rabbi Naomi Levy

We are frightened, God,
Worried for our loved ones,
Worried for our world.
Helpless and confused,
We turn to You
Seeking comfort, faith and hope.

Teach us God, to turn our panic into patience,
And our fear into acts of kindness and support.
Our strong must watch out for our weak,
Our young must take care of our old.
Help each one of us to do our part to halt the spread of this virus

Send strength and courage to the doctors and nurses
In the front-lines of this battle,
Fortify them with the full force of their healing powers.
Send wisdom and insight to the scientists
Working day and night across the world to discover healing treatments.
Bless their efforts, God.
Fill our leaders with the wisdom and the courage
To choose wisely and act quickly.
Help us, God, to see that we are one world,
One people
Who will rise above this pandemic together.

Send us health God,
Watch over us,
Grace us with Your love,
Bless us with Your healing light.
Hear us God,
Heal us God,

Glacier Jewish Community/
Bnai Shalom |
PO Box 615, Kalispell, MT 59903


Due to the current restrictions on group gatherings and for the safety of our congregation members during this Coronavirus crisis, the Aitz Chaim Board has made the decision to cancel our community Seder this year. Other seders and gatherings around the state are also being cancelled. Congregation President Laura Weiss said in an email: “Stay home, read a good book, stay well.” Rabbi Ruz said in an email, “… we’ll reschedule when it becomes possible! Take care, everyone!!💜


Shavuah tov, my friends!

So it looks like best practices, as dictated by the CDC, state regulations, and my children, dictate that I NOT fly there for the Pesach community gathering. 🥺 It’s looking like we have to push our plans back about six weeks.

Let’s turn the lemons into lemonade: we can have an amazing Shavuot celebration! It would be wonderful to learn about and enjoy this holiday together, a first!!
Please let me know what you think about that idea ASAP, so that rather than getting a refund on my ticket I can switch it to that time.

Meanwhile, I beg you to observe the social distancing and hygiene practices that Washington state had to wake up to on our own, thanks to that orange menace!!

Life here is so strange: everywhere is deserted, and grocery stores are barely half stocked. No school, no Shul, no anything.
My daughter’s partner works for a funeral home, transporting dead people from their homes to the mortuary. He has been, obviously, way too busy. And as my daughter is immunosuppressed with a chronic illness, we are really scared. Dystopia indeed!

Please check on my Facebook page to find some wonderful prayer and healing services that are being broadcast online by some incredible musicians and clergy!

Stay safe and, as everybody keep saying, WASH YOUR HANDS!!

Love, Ruz
Sent from my iPhone March 14, 2020


On behalf of Major General A.C. Roper, Commander, 76th Division, United States
Army Reserve, you are invited to attend a ceremony in honor of Colonel Douglas
A. Cherry on the occasion of his promotion to Brigadier General.

Please follow the link below to view your invitation and RSVP.

COL Cherry’s Promotion Ceremony: January 6th, at 2:00pm

**If you are unable to click on the link please copy and paste the address
into your web browser.

For information regarding this event please contact the protocol officer; Mrs.
Pauliese Litnak at (801) 656-3400 or

Very Respectfully,
Mrs. Pauliese A. Litnak
CIV, Executive Administrative Assistant
76th Division (Operational Response)
Office: 801.656.3413
BB: 910.850.1355


Please mark your calendars for the upcoming board meeting on Sunday afternoon, September 20, at 2:00 P.M. at the Washington School building, 1015 First Avenue North. Everyone is welcome. We are planning to have Rabbi Ruz Gulko come back as many times as we can afford it this coming year, so we will be selecting dates for her visits. This would also be a good time to pay or increase your membership commitment to Aitz Chaim. As our membership decreases, each of your donated dollars becomes increasingly more important to us and to the sustaining of our current programs or the establishment of new ones.

Don’t miss this important opportunity to be part of the ongoing history of the Aitz Chaim community, and to secure our legacy for those coming after us.


The summer has just begun, but before you know it, it will be over and the High Holidays will be here. We will be bringing Rabbi Ruz back to Great Falls for High Holy Day services!

Our Jewish community could use your financial help to make that happen.  How about we have some fun at the same time!  Aitz Chaim will publicize your High Holiday greetings to the community online in the Ram’s Horn. We will offer two sizes, one business-card sized greeting for $18.00, and a larger size for $36.00.

Contact Joy at to reserve your personalized greeting now!


At the most recent Aitz Chaim board meeting, it was decided to schedule a cemetery cleanup night on Tuesday, June 23, at 6:00 P.M. Anyone who can come is encouraged to bring a lawn mower to mow the grass or a weed eater to edge around the stones. If you do not have or cannot bring a mower or a weed eater, please bring food. Everyone is encouraged to come. Many hands make light work.


Voting was held at the Break The Fast potluck following Neilah. the results were as follows:

  • Bruce breslauer, re-elected first vice President
  • Aaron Weissman, re-elected Treasurer
  • Nadyne Weissman, re-elected Secretary
  • Helen Cherry, re-elected Board Member

So the complete slate of officers up for election were re-elected.
Thank you for your participation.


Aitz Chaim Board Meeting Minutes
Sunday, 9/28 at 2pm at Celtic Cowboy

Attending were board members Aaron, Laura, Stephen, and Helen, and Joy, Aitz Chaim coeditor. We thought that the change in venue to a fun restaurant like the Celtic Cowboy was a good idea. However, it turned out that they have live music on Sunday afternoons, which was an impediment to our discussion. We thought another location for future meetings would be preferable.

  • 1) Accepted as submitted. However, an additional $650 was still payable to HUC from the rabbi program last year. That check will be sent this week, reducing the income from last year to $200. We noted that the income from the Passover seder was $200, and that profit was almost entirely due to guests and non-members attending the Seder. We decided to continue inviting a smaller group of non-members and guests to the Seder, as long as the majority of attendees are Jewish.

    Bethel Lutheran Church is having a building fund and intends to make significant changes to our space, including moving our storage area in the building to an interior wall that will not be as subject to outside cold. We decided to double our annual rent for the year and send Bethel an additional $350. We did this with the understanding that our total income for last year was only $200.

    We agreed to continue having the Seder at Clark and Lewies. Due to congregational schedules, we decided to have the seder this year on 4/3/15 (First night) to avoid a conflict with the Showdown Mannequin Jump, which Aaron, Steve and Max are committed to attending. If the Thares are unavailable, we thought that Tuesday, 4/7/15 would be an acceptable alternative evening. Hanna, Sarah and Max have been asked to lead the seder this year.


  • 1) We discussed the desire for a fence at the Mt. Olivet cemetery, and what the congregation might do to facilitate it.

    2) We discussed upkeep and maintenance of the cemetery, and some possible changes concerning future burials there.

    3) What is the correct amount to charge for burials at Eaton Road? We thought that $500.00 was a number which will allow us some funds for ongoing maintenance of the cemetery.

    4) Max Weissman’s eagle project will likely be this Spring, and he would like to do fence repairs at the Eaton Road cemetery, as well as graveling in a parking area, and perhaps the road.

  • HANNUKAH PARTY: We will check with Stuart to find out if he will still host it, and dates that will work.
  • 1) Rabbi Meriam will come during the weekend of November 21, 2014.

    2) We will not schedule a March service this year due to costs and lack of attendance; however, we will try to have a Friday night Purim party and/or movie night in March. We would like this to be on 3/6/15.

    3) We would like to have a Shavuos weekend during the weekend of 5/23/15. If Meriam is not available, perhaps we could ask Ruz to return.

  • EMPTY SLOT ON BOARD: We agreed to keep this slot open while we wait for a member to ask to join the board.


Now, here’s your chance. As an Aitz Chaim board member, you can lend your voice to decisions that are made by the Board concerning this congregation, and Jewish life in general in this community. You will have a chance to get together with other passionate Jews and discuss and make decisions that directly affect you now and in the future. Topics before the Board typically include such things as the upcoming schedule for services, upkeep of the cemetery, holiday planning, and annual budget concerns. Any congregation member is encouraged to attend board meetings as a spectator, but imagine yourself being an actual participant in making decisions about matters directly affecting your Jewish life in Great Falls. You could go down in Aitz Chaim history.

The Board members who are up for re-election for two-year terms are vice president Bruce Breslauer, who has declined to run again; Treasurer Aaron Weissman, Secretary Nadyne Weissman, and board member Stuart Lewin. Elections are typically held between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and voting is done by secret ballot.

The next board meeting will be held on September 28, 2014, at 2:00 P.M. at the Celtic Cowboy, 116 1st Ave. S.

If you are considering running for election to the Aitz Chaim board, please let President Laura Weiss
or any other Board member know so that we can include your name on the ballot.