Category Archives: Events

PLEASE MARK YOUR CALNEDARS FOR THE AITZ CHAIM COMMUNITY HANNUKAH CELEBRATION

  • Sunday, 12/18/2022 — Monday, 12/26/2022, 25 Kislev — 2 Tevet, 5783: Hanukkah.
  • Sunday, 12/18/2022, 24 Kislev, 5783: Erev Hanukkah. 5:30 P.M.: We will light the first candle of the Diane Kaplan Memorial Chanukkiah at the Civic Center. If you come at 5:30.30, you’ll probably miss it, especially if it is cold.
  • Monday, 12/19/2022, 25 Kislev, 5783: First day of Hanukkah. 5:30 P.M.: We will light the second candle of the Diane Kaplan Memorial Chanukkiah at the Civic Center.
  • Tuesday, 12/20/2022, 26 Kislev, 5783: Second day of Hanukkah. 5:30 P.M.: We will light the third candle of the Diane Kaplan Memorial Chanukkiah at the Civic Center.
  • Wednesday, 12/21/2022, 27 Kislev, 5783: Third day of Hanukkah. 5:30 P.M.: We will light the fourth candle of the Diane Kaplan Memorial Chanukkiah at the Civic Center.
  • Thursday, 12/22/2022, 28 Kislev, 5783: Fifth day of Hanukkah. 5:30 P.M.: We will light the sixth candle of the Diane Kaplan Memorial Chanukkiah at the Civic Center.
  • Friday, 12/23/2022, 29 Kislev, 5783: Fifth day of Hanukkah. 5:30 P.M.: We will light the sixth candle of the Diane Kaplan Memorial Chanukkiah at the Civic Center. From there we will go to the Bethel for services to celebrate Hanukkah as a community. See below.
  • Saturday, 12/24/2022, 30 Kislev, 5783: Sixth day of Hanukkah. 5:30 P.M.: We will light the seventh candle of the Diane Kaplan Memorial Chanukkiah at the Civic Center.
  • Sunday, 12/25/2022, 1 Tevet, 5783: Seventh day of Hanukkah. 5:30 P.M.: We will light the eighth candle of the Diane Kaplan Memorial Chanukkiah at the Civic Center.
  • Monday, 12/26/2022, 2 Tevet, 5783: Eighth day of Hanukkah.

**The address for the Bethel is 1009 18th Avenue Southwest. click here for map and directions.

Friday evening, 12/23-2022, 29 Kislev 5783 — Aitz Chaim Community Hanukkah celebration at the Bethel, immediately following the menorah lighting at the Civic Center. Bring already made latkes to share, and be ready to play some Hanukkah games! Bring gelt, dreidels, and any other favorite Hanukkah games, and get ready to have some fun!

Reminder: We need volunteers. If you can volunteer at the Mercy Home over Christmas Day, PLEASE let Wendy know. Contact her for more details at wendy@weissman.com

MORE HANUKKAH CELEBRATIONS ACROSS MONTANA

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here are more Hanukkah celebrations around Montana that may interest you.

  • Sunday, 12/18/2022, 24 Kislev, 5783, 4-6pm: Hanukkah party in Helena at the newly purchased synagogue!
    Address: 515 Ewing Street
    Bring your menorah and candles. There will be latkes and treats and crafts for kids of all ages.
  • Monday, 12/19/2022, 25 Kislev, 5783, noon to 1pm: MAJCO (Montana Association of Jewish Communities) annual Hanukkah celebration and Hanukkiyah lighting in the Capitol Rotunda, Helena, MT.
  • Thursday, 12/22/2022, 28 Kislev, 5783, 6:00-7:00pm: Hanukkah Across Montana, with MAOR, Montana Association of Rabbis. Let’s light the fifth candle together, sing Hanukkah songs, and hear a Hanukkah story for the kids! The Montana Association of Rabbis (MAOR)—Rabbis Allen Secher, Laurie Franklin, Ed Stafman, Mark Kula, Francine Roston, and Sonja Pilz—welcome our Montana friends and extended family, wherever you are, to a sweet Hanukkah celebration. Set up your menorah and light it with us! Join Zoom meeting
    Meeting ID: 880 5066 9773.

FROM THE MONTANA JEWISH PROJECT, HELENA

  • WHERE? From THE Montana Jewish Project, HELENA
  • WHEN? Sunday, 10/30/2022, at 2:00PM.
  • WHAT? Dr. Ari Laskin, a documentary film maker, will lead a discussion about his current work called Memorial’s Undoing. His project is about Holocaust memorials, particularly Babyn Yar, and he raises some interesting questions on which he would like feedback.
  1. what are the underlying meanings of memorials?
  2. Do memorials draw too bright a line between the past and present?
  3. Are there ways to make memorials that don’t let us “off the hook”, since the trauma of these massacres continues (and the conditions that cause them are still occuring)

This will be our first speaker inside our building, but we’re also sharing it on Zoom; it just requires advanced registration. If this seems like something that would interest you or that the Aitz Chaim community would enjoy, please spread the word.

PLEASE REGISTER HERE

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

SUKKAH PARTY DETAILS

For all who are coming to the sukkah party:

If you want to carpool or caravan, meet at 3:30 near the gas pumps at smiths and you can either get a ride or follow someone. Address is 285 North Main St. Simms 59477.

See you all there! Bring food and sukkah decorations to share. Types of food should include harvest foods such as barley, nuts, dates, figs, but any food is welcome!

LAST-MINUTE DINNER NOTICE: TOMORROW EVENING … PLEASE COME!

  • WHAT? Dinner tomorrow evening, September 19, 2022, 23 Elul, 5882, 6:00PM
  • WITH WHOM? Patricia Salkin, the Provost at the new Tuoro medical school being built in Great Falls
  • WHERE? Celtic Cowboy Pub and Restaurant, 116 1st Ave. S.

She would like to meet as many members of our Jewish community as possible. Yes this is last minute, but we did mention it at the last service.

Submitted by Aaron Weissman
aaron@weissman.com

PLEASE JOIN AITZ CHAIM FOR A COMMUNITY SUKKAH PARTY!

  • WHAT? Aitz Chaim Community sukkot party
  • WHEN? Sunday October 9th, 2022, Tishrei 14, 5783, 4:00PM
  • Where? At Colleen Lemon’s house, 285 North Main St., Simms, 59477.

If anyone would like to carpool there, please let Wendy know at (406) 868-5712, or wendy@weissman.com and we can arrange a carpool. Driving time is about 30-40 minutes.

If you would like to build a sukkah or similar structure (there are talks about building a teepee) please show up about 4 PM to build your sukkah. Bring materials that you will need to build it.

Colleen and her family are building a sukkah. If you are not building a sukkah and don’t want to watch or help others build one, show up about 5 PM. At that time, we will finish decorating the sukkah, recite prayers and have a light dinner.

Please bring the following if you can, (but nothing is required to bring, just yourself):

1. Sukkah decorations. We will all be decorating the sukkah!
2. Food to share. We will have a traditional Israeli menu so bring items such as figs, dates, nuts, grapes, pomegranates, pineapple, challah (wendy will make this), pita chips, tabouleh, hummus, apples and honey and salat (which I found out is basically tabouleh without the wheat). Other food is also welcome. Or if you just want to show up and eat that is great too!

Please call or text Colleen at ‭(412) 584-1973 with any questions you may have. The more the merrier, so please join us!!!

Submitted by Wendy Weissman

AITZ CHAIM COMMUNITY ROSH HASHANAH SCHEDULE 2022, 5783

The following is the Aitz Chaim community Rosh Hashanah schedule 2022, 5783.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Please bring your reading glasses if you need them.

  • 9/25/2022, 29 Elul, 5782, 7:00PM: Erev Rosh Hashanah services, led by Wendy weissman and Devorah Werner at the Bethel. Oneg with apples and honey to follow (thanks Nadyne!)
  • 9/26/2022, 1 Tishrei, 5783, 10:00AM: Rosh Hashanah Morning Services led by Wendy Weissman and Devorah Werner at the Bethel. Tashlich to follow ON THE *WEISSMAN BRIDGE. (Note change in location).

    The address for the Bethel is 1009 18th Avenue Southwest. click here for map and directions.

    *The Weissman Bridge is part of the Rivers Edge trail connecting the 2 sides of the river next to Central Ave West. You may park at the Federal Courthouse, 125 Central Ave. West.

    Shana tovah u’metukah!

MONTANA JEWISH PROJECT COMPLETES PURCHASE OF MONTANA’S OLDEST SYNAGOGUE

Helena, MT— 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.
“We are thrilled to have succeeded in this monumental effort,” said Rebecca Stanfel, president of the Montana Jewish Project’s Board.
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.
“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. MJP will also lease the open lawn next door to the historic synagogue for community use.
“We are so 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,” Stanfel said.
The Montana Jewish Project was founded by members of Helena’s Jewish community over a year ago and entered into a landmark purchase agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena on November 10, 2021, for the historic building once known as Temple Emanu-El. The group plans a re-dedication and celebration at the synagogue later in the fall.
“We know our work is only just starting,” said Julie Bir, member of the Montana Jewish Project’s Board of Directors. “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,” Bir said. “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,” said Stanfel. “Our all-volunteer-led organization 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.”
In 1891, Helena’s Jewish community-built Temple Emanu-El. The cornerstone is inscribed with 5651, that year in the Hebrew calendar. The synagogue’s first president described the new building as a “gift to ornament the city we love.” But in 1935, during the Great Depression, the congregation gave Temple Emanu-El to the state of Montana for $1, asking only that it be used for a “good and social purpose.” The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena bought it to house administrative offices in 1981. In the past year, the bishop streamlined administrative operations, consolidating three separate office locations into the new Center for Catholic Life in Helena. Temple Emanu-El is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We welcome all our supporters, the Jewish community across Montana and here in Helena, and the broader community to celebrate with us,” said Bir. “We have worked to carry forward the legacy of Montana’s earliest Jewish settlers, who built Temple Emanu-El despite the obstacles they faced.”
A ceremonial signing will take place at 10 AM, August 26 at the former Temple Emanu-El (515 North Ewing) with Bishop Vetter. Members of the media and the public are invited to attend. Weather permitting, this will be outside the building.

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,
Rebecca Stanfel

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.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Visit our web site

Copyright © 2021 Montana Jewish Project, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
PO Box 491, Helena, MT 59624

READY FOR ANOTHER JEW CREW HIKE ON SATURDAY, JULY 30?

Join us on Saturday, July 30th, for a hike to Our Lake near Bynum! If you have never been, it is spectacular.

If you are from Great Falls and want to either carpool or caravan, meet at the Smiths Parking Lot near the gas stations (and come a few minutes early if you need gas) at 715 AM. It is about a 1 hr 45 minute drive so plan on the hike starting at 9. Bring the usual – water, snacks, lunch, sunscreen, etc. From some of the recent reviews there are bugs so maybe bring bug spray.

It is a 7 mile hike and according to all trails it should take about 3 1/2 hours. Some of us are slower than others and there will be stops, so plan on probably 5 hours of hiking.

If you are from Helena, you can either meet us in Great Falls or at the trailhead at about 9 AM. I can get you directions or if you have all trails, look for OUR LAKE and there will be directions on the app. If you are meeting us at the trailhead, let me know ahead of time so we know to wait for people there. If I don’t hear from you we will plan on taking off right around 9.

Hope to see you there!

Submitted by Wendy Weissman