Category Archives: MAJCO
2018 MAJCo State Capital Chanukah Event & Meeting
*** Thursday, December 6 ***
Lighting of community chanukiot and address by the Governor – noon
(MAJCo meeting to follow in capital conference room to be announced)
WHAT IS MAJCo?
The Montana Association of Jewish Communities (MAJCo) is an umbrella organization that includes representation from Jewish communities across the length and breadth of the great state of Montana. Membership in MAJCo is open to any Jewish community, whatever the “stream,” within Montana. (Acceptance by the current communities is required.)
Small Jewish communities in rural areas do not exist in a vacuum. Three decades ago, our Jewish communities created MAJCo, an association of all the organized Montana Jewish communities. Through MAJCo, we keep in touch and have created a community throughout this great big beautiful state.
The Jewish communities in the Big Sky currently include:
• Congregation Beth Aaron, Billings
• Chabad Lubavitch of Montana, Bozeman
• Congregation Beth Shalom, Bozeman
• Congregation B’nai Israel, Butte
• Congregation Aitz Chaim, Great Falls
• Helena Jewish Community, Helena
• Glacier Jewish Community/B’nai Shalom, Kalispell-Whitefish
• Chabad Lubavitch of Missoula, Missoula
• Congregation Har Shalom, Missoula
THE PITTSBURGH SLAYINGS AND THE SEARCH FOR AMERICA’S SOUL
(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.”)
October 28, 2018
Congregation Aitz Chaim (The Great Falls Hebrew Association) would like to extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to our fellow Jews in Pittsburgh. We join you if not physically, spiritually, during this time of mourning and Shiva. As we recite the ancient words of the Kaddish, we pray that the source of comfort will comfort all those who mourn, and we send peace to all those who are bereaved.
October 28, 2018
Dear Members and Friends of Har Shalom,
Today, our deepest condolences go to the people of Etz Chayim, Pittsburgh. I would like to invite you to attend a vigil at Har Shalom on Sunday October 28 at 4:30 pm. Let us mourn and pray for peace together.
We are reeling between anger and sorrow about the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. My heart breaks for the families of those who lost loved ones and for the injuries of those who were wounded. I am exceedingly grateful to professional law enforcement for their dedication in the face of danger. At the same time, I am enraged that we have to suffer deadly, bigoted actions directed at our beloved Jewish people.
Although we are far from Pittsburgh, we feel the reverberations of this horrific mass shooting. Some of us are the children of Holocaust survivors. Some of us know that the Nazis killed our relatives in Eastern Europe. We remember, and it is painful. It is unspeakably despicable that innocent people are murdered because of their identity, simply because they are Jewish, especially in a house of worship, from a religious tradition that originated the concept of “sanctuary”. I will not hide in the face of anti-Semitism. We must affirm and celebrate our identity in a free society.
On the matter of security and the threat of copy-cat events, I spoke with the Missoula Police Department this morning. The officers in our zone will do extra drive–bys and will park in front of Har Shalom to fill out reports and make follow-up phone calls. I also communicated with our local police intelligence officer, who assures us that monitoring of local hate groups does not indicate any specific, immediate threat. I urge you to get in touch with me if you would like to share your concerns. Many, many thanks to all our non-Jewish friends who have called or written to express their solidarity. It means so much to us.
Meanwhile, we can do these things: (1) Please come to the vigil tomorrow, Sunday October 28 at 4:30 pm, and (2) Please work to undo the damage caused by hate-filled rhetoric and false conspiracy theories by modeling the opposite behavior, working in advocacy roles for our highest values, and voting.
Spiritual Leader and Senior Rabbinic Intern
Har Shalom/Missoula, MT
October 28, 2018
We never begin the day thinking we will learn of a tragedy, especially on Shabbat. However, we were confronted this morning with the news that shattered the very peace and rest we seek on this holy day.
As many of you are already aware, Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (home to several large and diverse Jewish communities) was in the middle of Shabbat morning services when they were attacked by an active shooter who was apparently driven by extreme anti-Semitic hatred.
It is easy to be blindsided, scared and even confused by this event. The United States is one of the safest nations in the world for Jews to live throughout the history of our people. This is why the actions carried out this morning are such a sobering reminder that bigotry, hatred, and intolerance continue to be evils we face as Jews along with others discriminated against for just trying to be who they are.
We join with other Jewish Communities around the United States and the world in mourning with the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. Many of us at CBA have personal ties to Pittsburgh or the area.
Although our sympathetic prayers seem meager in the wake of the enormous weight of this tragedy, it joins into a bigger outpouring of love, warmth and solidarity from the other Jewish communities along with the greater United States Community. This wave reminds us that light and warmth will banish darkness; without exception. As opposed to letting this event close us off from our neighbors and make us suspicious of strangers – let us take the opportunity to get to know the people around our community better. We fear what we do not know.
One thing is certain. We will not let fear dictate how we worship or live our lives. Please note that we will continue as planned with our showing of “There Are Jews Here” at the Synagogue tomorrow. We hope to see you there!
With sorrow and a prayer for everlasting peace,
President, Congregation Beth Aaron
October 28, 2018
Shabbos in Bozeman ended a short time ago and I turned my phone on to see the horrific images out of the Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The Torah says that upon hearing of the untimely passing of his sons Nadav and Avihu, Aaron, Moses’ brother and High Priest, was silent. There are times where speechlessness is the sound of a deep cry, a bitter heartbreak and an unfathomable tragedy being experienced.
Please join me tomorrow at Congregation Beth Shalom, Bozeman, at 3:30 PM for a community gathering in memory of our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh and join us this upcoming Shabbos morning November 3rd for a Shabbat Prayer for Pittsburgh as our prayers and the sermon will be dedicated to Pittsburgh and our way forward as a Jewish community.
I know that so many of you are scared, broken and angry. The words of King David must always reverberate in our minds “The guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps” and may He protect our people wherever they are and may He bring comfort to the Synagogue and greater Pittsburgh community and the families who are mourning the loss of their loved ones.
Rabbi Chaim Bruk
Chabad Lubavitch of Montana
From: Brian Schnitzer
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2018 3:46 PM
Subject: MAJCo – Jewish Cemeteries In Montana
Last week the Montana Historical Society sponsored, with the help of National Park Service funding, a seminar on cemetery preservation. Helena’s Home of Peace cemetery featured significantly in several of the presentations and was one of the stops on the Helena historic cemeteries tour.
Home of Peace, owned and managed by the Home of Peace Cemetery Association, was established in 1867. It is Helena’s oldest active cemetery and the oldest Jewish cemetery in Montana.
(Papers exist suggesting as the Virginia City mining camp prepared to become an organized town in the mid-1860’s, its founders designated an area in its planned cemetery as “The Hebrew Cemetery.” There are no monuments in the designated area and no documentation of its having ever been purchased by any Jewish community. Although Ground Penetrating Radar suggests many internments, it is thought the area was used by Virginia City for mass burials during one of its later epidemics.)
I, therefore, know only the particulars of two specifically Jewish cemeteries in Montana. I believe we also have cemeteries in Butte and Great Falls, but I do not know their particulars. If you are aware of additional active or inactive Jewish cemeteries, please reply with that information. “Reply All,” so the information can be shared and not duplicated.
Beth Aaron Cemetery
Congregation Beth Aaron
Home of Peace
Home of Peace Cemetery Association
We have firmed up plans for our annual Chanukah candle lighting for Monday, December 18th, 30 Kislev, beginning at noon in the Capitol rotunda in Helena. Governor Steve Bullock is scheduled to join us.
I will schedule a room for a meeting of the MAJCo representatives. More information will follow soon about agenda.
The Shabbat Project was introduced in South Africa in 2013 to quite astonishing effect. On the Shabbat over which it ran, close to 70 percent of that country’s 75,000 Jews kept Shabbat to a more full degree, most for the first time in their lives.
Perhaps more significantly, the initiative drew people together in ways never seen before.
In the aftermath, many wrote in from around the world, wanting to bring the initiative to their own cities and communities. And so, The International Shabbat Project was born.
It has already been described as “an experiment that has no precedent in modern Jewish history,” and “the most ambitious Jewish unity initiative ever undertaken.”
In October 2016, over 1,000 cities in 90 countries held events, some with as many as 10,000 attendees. It is estimated that as many as 1,000,000 Jews participated in the numerous public and private celebrations of the Shabbat.
Congregation Beth Aaron has enrolled in this year’s The Shabbat Project. In addition to our Erev Shabbat Service and Oneg Shabbat Friday, October 27 and Shabbat Torah Study/Lunch-n-Learn Saturday, October 28, please join us for these other Shabbat morning and afternoon activities.
THE SHABBAT PROJECT-BILLINGS, MT
Friday, October 27, 2017, 8 Cheshvan, 5778:
- 7:00 PM – SHIRIM UZ’MIROT/Songs and Hymns
- 7:30 PM – KABBALAT SHABBAT/Welcoming the Sabbath
- 8:45 PM – ONEG SHABBAT/Sabbath celebration
Saturday, October 28, 2017, 8 Cheshvan, 5778:
Submitted by brian Schnitzer
The Shabbat Project | 27-28 October
This week, in addition to exciting events in Rome, Tel Aviv and Warsaw, there are tributes from a nation’s president, a Chassidic rebbe and a New York
a capella band!
How are your final preparations going?
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin has publicly endorsed The Shabbat Project.
Read his letter here!
In Zichron Yaakov, organisers are partnering with the mayor’s office to run a host of events – including a pre-event wine evening, citywide Challah Bake, Kabbalat Shabbat under the stars, Shabbat activities and workshops in schools, and a Friday night dinner for the city’s teenagers.
Click here for more.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen
Rome has clicked into gear with the “Invite your neighbours” campaign that will see friends and ‘strangers’ gathering together in homes across the city for Shabbat meals. Rome will be joined by Venice, Naples, Milan, Cosenza, Cuneo and Torino, which are all running headline events.
Poles A Part
Warsaw is paying tribute to South Africa – where The Shabbat Project was introduced in 2013 – with a communal Friday night meal comprising South African delicacies. The South African Ambassador to Poland is also expected to attend.
Rocking in Rio
In Rio de Janeiro, Jews in the neighbourhoods of Copacabana, Ipanema, Botafogo and Leblon are participating in a veritable carnival of Shabbat Project events.
Check it out here.
Shabbat Around the World
Inspire Tel Aviv (ITV) is hosting an extraordinary dinner on a rooftop overlooking the city, where it will be serving foods and celebrating cultures from around the world. ITV is also having a cholent-and-beer Shabbat lunch, a walking tour of “Tel Aviv’s hidden history”, a third meal, and a musical Havdallah!
I’m a Jewish Mother, Do Exactly As I Say!
Tovah Feldshuh – actress, singer, playwright, and Jewish mother – says: “Come to the worldwide Challah Bake!” And you dare not disobey.
Havdallah Spice Shouldn’t Be a Problem
In Marrakesh, Morocco, a tour group of 35 people from around the world have opted to keep a full Shabbat together! That’s not all for Morocco. Shabbat Project activities are also happening in the cities of Rabat and Casablanca, where Shabbat meals are being planned.
A Jew You Should Know
Ari Koretzky has interviewed US senators, Nobel Prize winners, 9/11 survivors, hedge fund masterminds and global human rights ambassadors. In his latest “Jews you should know” podcast, he gets up close and personal with the “Good Shabbos Rabbi” himself – South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein, who is the founder and director of The Shabbat Project.
Check it out here.
Novaminsker Rebbe Gets On Board
People often ask, what about communities that keep Shabbat every week? If they experience this gift every week – what can they do to tap into the magic of The Shabbat Project? The Novominsker Rebbe and the Chief Rabbi of South Africa have answered this conundrum…
The Shabbat Project is an opportunity for everyone to renew their appreciation of Shabbat, even those who have kept Shabbat since birth. So families around the world are uniting to study chapter 30 of the Rambam Hilchos Shabbos on the Shabbat of The Shabbat Project, as a way to renew their appreciation of this beautiful gift!
Justin Timberlake Says: “Keep Shabbat!”
Okay, we admit – that headline was just clickbait. But to help you get over your disappointment, here’s NYC’s crack a cappella outfit, Six13, giving JT’s “Can’t stop the feeling!” a distinctly Sabbatical spin.
Here’s to keeping it together in 2017.
The Shabbat Project Team
There is still time to put your city/town/county on the list!
Submitted by Brian Schnitzer
July 6 –
July 7/8 –
July 9 –
July 10 –
July 11 –
July 12 –
Submitted by Brian Schnitzer
The World Maccabiah Games
Hebrew: משחקי המכביה or Hebrew: משחקי המכביה העולמית; plural Maccabiot)
First held in 1932, the Maccabiah Games are an international Jewish multi-sport event now held quadrennially in Israel. It is the third-largest sporting event in the world, with 10,000 athletes competing on behalf of 80 countries. The Maccabiah, which is organized by the Maccabi World Union, was declared a “Regional Sport Event” by, and under the auspices and supervision of, the International Olympic Committee and international sports federations in 1960. The Maccabiah is often referred to as the “Jewish Olympics”.
Contributed by Brian Schnitzer