Category Archives: Kislev


On behalf of There Are Jews Here, I invite you to watch the film’s national public television premiere on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, at 8/7c! The film will broadcast as part of the 2018 season of the Emmy-nominated documentary series
America ReFramed on the WORLD Channel.

There Are Jews Here takes you on a journey to places where most never imagined Jews existed: in small
towns like Latrobe, Pennsylvania; Dothan, Alabama; Butte, Montana; and, Laredo, Texas. In the wake of the tragedy in Pittsburgh, this story shifts our focus to Jewish persistence, community and continuity, offering
stories of strength and resilience.
Following the untold stories of the four once-thriving American Jewish communities, the film is both a celebration of tenacity and a warning that the legacies of such communities could be lost forever.


While There Are Jews Here is about the Jewish people and tradition, the film speaks to the value and strength of America’s diversity. In sharing and listening to our nation’s many stories, we’re able to see that we’re bound by the same hopes for a better future.

Make There Are Jews Here a part of your gathering with family and friends during the holidays!

TUNE IN to America ReFramed on television on Dec. 4! (check local listings)

STREAM AND WATCH America ReFramed online for free starting Dec. 4:



Israeli NGO sends aid to California in wake of unprecedented wildfires
IsraAID’s emergency response team provides help building resilience and recovery in communities hard hit by the deadly blazes.
By Nicky Blackburn November 19, 2018

Israeli NGO, IsraAID, is sending an emergency response team to California to help communities affected by the unprecedented fires that have killed 80 and destroyed over 13,000 homes and buildings. More than 1,300 people are still listed as missing.

The two blazes broke out 10 days ago in both north and south California and quickly spiraled out of control. The Camp Fire wildfire, which wiped out the town of Paradise in Butte county (population 27,000), is already the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history, torching an area the size of Chicago.

The Woolsey fire has burned over 98,362 acres in southern California near the border of Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

After a request from local communities, IsraAID is to conduct a needs assessment of the population in affected areas, promote community resilience and recovery, and distribute relief items to families currently staying in temporary accommodation after losing their homes in the fires.

Yotam Polizer, the co-CEO of IsraAID, told ISRAEL21c that a team of four Israelis have already flown out to California, and plan to set up operations in Chico, where many evacuees are now living in tent cities, shelters and even sleeping in their cars.

“We’ve seen a lot of disaster zones over the years, but this is a whole different level of devastation. Everything has been burned to the ground, and there are so many people still missing,” said Polizer, who has just returned from California.

“The search and rescue teams aren’t looking for survivors, they are looking for remains. From a psychological perspective it’s on a whole different scale.

“When we talk to local people we see they are getting support, but there’s very little psycho-social support there. That’s where we are planning to focus our efforts.”

IsraAID’s team will include Israeli and US-based mental health specialists, who will work with partner organizations on-the-ground to support affected communities as they recover and promote community resilience.

“We were devastated by the tragedy of these fires in California,” said Polizer. “It’s a place very close to our hearts. We have an office there, lots of staff members and volunteers. A lot of local people asked that we come and help. We are planning to be there to support the people as long as we are needed.”

This is not the first time that IsraAID has sent aid in the wake of deadly fires in California. In October last year, a team of seven aid workers – including Polizer – helped out in evacuation centers in Napa Valley, after a series of wildfires swept the state killing 44, causing $14.5 billion in damages, and forcing 90,000 people to evacuate.

The Israeli team were stationed in Santa Rosa, California, and helped coordinate and provide relief supplies and stress management to the affected community.

Even today, IsraAID continues to work with the community there to help them build resilience.

IsraAID has extensive experience responding to disasters in the US and all over the world. This year alone, the organization provided aid to victims in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Michael, North Carolina, after Hurricane Florence, to the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Kenya, and to Guatemala after the volcano.


The weather is turning colder outside, and Thanksgiving is here. That means we need to start preparing to staff the Mercy Home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Our Jewish Community members volunteer their time to staff the Mercy Home, the only domestic violence shelter for women in Great Falls. This gives the Mercy Home staff a chance to spend the Christmas holiday with their families.

Here are the shifts that I would like to fill. If we have trouble filling the 3 hour shifts, I may move to 4 hour shifts and utilize fewer volunteers, but with enough volunteers, we should only need to help for 3 hours each:

  • Monday, 12/24: 2-5 PM
  • Monday 12/24: 5-8 PM
  • Monday 12/24: 8-11 PM
  • Tuesday 12/25: 8-11 AM
  • Tuesday 12/25: 11 AM – 2 PM
  • Tuesday 12/25: 2-5 PM

Remember that a male can only volunteer with a female (Mercy Home Rules). If you have never done this before or need a refresher, me or a Mercy Home staff member are happy to do that prior to your shift. Just let me know and I can arrange that.

Please e-mail me at or call or text me at 868-5712 and let me know what shift you would like or if you have any questions.

Thank you!!!

Wendy Weissman


Video of United Hatzalah by Popular Israeli-Arab Vlogger Goes Viral
by Staff | 11.15.18

A video of the Israeli first-responder organization, United Hatzalah of Israel, produced by the popular Israeli-Arab vlogger (video blogger), NAS Daily, became the most-viewed video about an Israeli non-profit in just one week, The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

NAS, as Nuseir Yassin is known, produces one-minute videos on topics of interest that he posts to Facebook, where he has 10 million followers.

Though most of Yassin’s videos garner between 2 and 10 million views, in one week the United Hatzalah video was viewed by 22.5 million people. (The number is now at 25 million.)

Introducing the United Hatzalah video, Yassin wrote that the organization is “one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in a while.”

“The change has been palpable,” Eli Beer, the founder of United Hatzalah of Israel, said of the international response to the video. “People around the world have been sending us messages, friend requests, and requests for help. They have expressed interest in setting up their own versions of our life-saving model in their cities and communities. We’ve had a lot of interest in particular from India, the Philippines and various cities in the United States.”

Yassin, who has been traveling around the world for nearly three years, usually makes one-minute videos, and signs off with “That’s one minute! See you tomorrow!” However, the United Hatzalah video runs nearly four minutes.

“The people at United Hatzalah of Israel are doing incredible work. All for free. All to save lives. Here is how they did it,” Yassin wrote. “Thank you Eli Beer and the team of volunteers for reaching out to Nas Daily and letting me film your operations. All around impressive.”

The video currently has 11,000 comments and has been shared over 400,000 times.

“Our model can save lives around the world, so we are excited that we received this exposure and that Nuseir succeeded in spreading our message around the globe so quickly,” Dov Maisel, the Vice President of Operations for United Hatzalah, explained. “We look forward to working with all interested parties to help them develop our lifesaving model and saving more lives all over the planet.”

Vice President of United Hatzalah Michael Brown added, “We are incredibly thankful to Nuseir and his team for the light that they have shone on our operations and on the coexistence that exists between our Jewish, Muslim and Christian volunteers in Israel. As an Israeli Arab, Nuseir has a valuable perspective on coexistence in Israel and I am glad that he was able to tell our story.”


At the most recent Aitz Chaim board meeting on October 28, 2018, the suggestion was made that it might be nice to hold regular monthly lay services at The Bethel, to give us a chance to get together and celebrate Shabbat, and perhaps have a meal. Devorah Werner has offered to lead these lay services. The first one will be held on Friday, December 7, 29 Kislev, and we will have our community Chanukah celebration afterwards. So we will meet downtown to light the Diane Kaplan Memorial Chanukkiah at 5:30 P.M. and then meet at The Bethel by 6:00 P.m. We thank Devorah Werner for her willingness to step up and lead these services. We hope that having consistent services every month will bring us closer together as a Jewish community and help us to grow bigger, better, and stronger.

Happy Chanukah!

The torah portion for December 8 is Miketz Bereshit (Genesis) 41:1–44:17, Pinchas : Bemidbar (Numbers) 28:9-15 Naso-Bemidbar 7:42-47
Haftarah — Zechariah 2:14-3:1-10–4:1-7
Shabat rosh Chodesh Shabbat Chanukah

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


(Opinion on behalf of the Billings “Montana Interfaith Network,” submitted by the Rev. Dr. Paul Seastrand)

It is estimated that in the last 800 years, half of the world’s Jews have died violently, and on October 27, eleven more Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue were added to that count by a man hurling anti-Semitic slurs and bullets. Yet though the history of anti-Semitism is immeasurably tragic, the slayings in Pittsburgh bring us face to face with another sobering fact: The religious and cultural diversity that is the heritage and strength of America has too often devolved into religious and cultural animosity.

Though affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I write on behalf of the Montana Interfaith Network which represents Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Native American, and other historic faith communities who “advocate for the dignity, sanctity, and equality of every human being.” This advocacy finds common cause, as well, with the aims of civil freedom and justice affirmed by the U.S. Constitution and its amendments. Yet starkly contrasted is an America dismayed and torn by church shootings, school shootings, racist nationalism, tribalism, and the fatiguing tensions of identity politics. This is regrettable to people of faith as well as to every citizen who is committed to “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Observe how certain political and religious currents in American society today bring to mind the “Know-Nothing” politics of the mid-1800s. The “Know-Nothing-Party” was pledged to defend American values and life-style from the potential of foreign domination on native-born Americans. American Protestants, in particular, feared the influence of immigrant European traditionalists and not least the increasing influx of Roman Catholics. This kind of hostile American nativism is not just a historical footnote, but lingers on in polarizing debates about immigration, white nationalism, identity politics, and racial and religious equality. Moreover, during the present election season Republicans and Democrats debate tooth and nail about border control and healthcare, yet neither party has brought forward detailed proposals and moderating attitudes that effectively move our governing process and our body politic beyond vitriolic stagnation and suspicion.

So the tragedy in Pittsburgh is not only a marker of anti-Semitism, but is another mark of the discord and debate that press the search for America’s soul. Our Founding Fathers recognized that diverse people with competing self-interests can either break or make a nation. They knew well the pitfalls of human avarice and tyranny, but anticipated (more than they realized) that constitutional divisions of power and democratic controls could preserve this nation in civil harmony despite and even because of differences of religion and inheritance. By the same token, many faith traditions recognize that civil harmony is a religious imperative. In 1995, my Lutheran denomination made common cause with the Montana Association of Jewish Communities, not because we share the same religious doctrines about God and salvation, but because we share renewed respect for each other that does not bow to stereotypes and intolerance. Moreover, we stated that “We need not share a common creed to share common deeds that enhance human welfare and strengthen the moral fabric of society.”

Such is the kind of language and commitment that advances both faith and nation. Whatever
our religion or biological and social inheritance; whether we are conservative, liberal,Republican, Democrat, or Independent; whether we drive Fords, Chevys, or bicycles; we need not share a common creed to share common deeds of justice, respect, and maybe even love. This election season is a fitting time to deepen these foundations of our common life and prove-up the search for America’s soul.

(The Rev. Dr. Paul Seastrand is a retired pastor with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and a member of the Billings “Montana Interfaith Network.”)


Yahrzeit memorials are listed by consecutive Hebrew month, date, and year, if known, or at the beginning of the list for one calendar year following the date of passing.

Compiled by Aitz Chaim over many years, this list is maintained by the Ram’s Horn. Please send any corrections or additions to
May the source of peace send peace to all who mourn, and comfort to all who are bereaved.

Name of
Hebrew Date of Passing Deceased Relationship to
Dawn M. Schandelson 23 Elul, 5778
Donald Goldman 29 Iyyar, 5778 Father of Abbee Drew Syrovatka, Grandfather of Ceecee Drew
FRANCES WALTMAN 16 Nisan, 5778 Mother of Marjorie Feldman
Dr. Daniel Foxman 4 Kislev, 5762 Father of Marty Foxman
Henry Espelin 7 Kislev, 5745 Father of Dawn Schandelson
Irving Tatz 12 Kislev, 5769 Father of Janet Tatz
Joseph Magalnick 13 Kislev, 5731 Father of Elliot Magalnick
Richard Weiss 15 Kislev, 5761 Father of Laura Weiss
Diane Kaplan 16 Kislev, 5770 Mother of Kai Nealis
Mike Thorne 17 Kislev, 5777 Relative of Alan Thorne
Carl Weissman 20 Kislev, 5721 Grandfather of Jerry Weissman
Beverly Tatz 26 Kislev, 5776 Mother of Janet Tatz
Sarah Barrett 30 Kislev, 5728 Grandmother of Nadyne Weissman


Please take note of the change in venue for the community Hanukkah party.

Saturday, 12/16/2017, 28 Kislev, 5778: Fourth day of chanukah. We will light the fifth candle at the Civic Center at precisely 5:30 P.M. From there we will go to the YWCA, 220 2nd Street North, for the annual Aitz Chaim community Hanukkah party. Please bring a milchig (dairy) dish to share, and a hearty appetite for latkes and Sufganiyot.


This is one of my favorite Hanukkah songs. I found a blog about it from Teruah – Jewish music, written in 2007, that interested me. I would not have thought this song was controversial before reading this blog.

Once you get past “Sevivon, Sov Sov Sov,” “I have a little dreidel” and “Maoz Tzur”, there aren’t a lot of great Channukah songs. All sorts of folks have stepped up to fill the void, usually with earnest but forgettable results. One song, Peter Yarrow’s “Don’t Let the Lights Go Out,” became an immediate, if a bit controversial, hit. First performed “as part of the 1982 Peter, Paul and Mary Hanukkah/ Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall with the N.Y. Choral Society,” the song ask us to

“Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that 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
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker’s time is at hand”

On the positive side, the lyrics connect one of the central images Channukah (the menorah) with one of the central themes of the holiday (freedom) in a moving way. The song reminds us that while the event of Channukah happened along time ago, the situation of Channukah (loss of freedom) happens daily and that observance of Channukah ritual in the home should be matched with action to encourage freedom in the world. This as as elegant a Tikun Olam statement as I’ve heard in a pop song.

On the negative side, (and I’ve heard this in more places than the “Yourish blog” post but I’m having trouble finding other references at the moment), the song uses a Jewish holiday solely as the anchor for secular social action. In other words, where are the Jews in the song? Where is the Judaism? As a writer, I’ve claimed the song has a connection to Tikun Olam, but the song doesn’t make that commitment. I’ve claimed that the song says that Channukah ritual should be matched with action. The song really just stays to do social action and can be read as preferring that over observance of ritual.

It’s one of those perplexing questions…does the song bring a strong Jewish belief (Tikun Olam) to the secular / Christian United States or is it just appropriating Jewish images to support a secular political movement (the social justice movement). Personally, I love the song and am willing to make assumptions in its favor. What do you think?
Posted by Jack at 6:28 AM

Ben said…
No one ever said that the song is necessarily Jewish. Peter Paul and Mary are not rabbis. If they claimed it to be a Jewish song, then I could see it being controversial, but they are like many performers of Jewish ethnicity who just so happen to throw in some Jewish references to a non-Jewish song. But I like your attitude that you choose the positive slant. And I guess this is an discussion that could go on forever.
December 6, 2007

Anonymous said…
It’s a song. Not an anthem or a manifesto. Leave it be and enjoy the music. November 28, 2012