Category Archives: Planning
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
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
Make A Donation
From Wendy Weissman:
The Helena Jewish community is trying to purchase back the old synagogue that is now office spaces. They want to buy it and renovate it.
They are just in the beginning stages of this process, and have formed a non profit called the Phoenix Project, of which I am the treasurer. Right now they are giving tours of the old synagogue and getting ideas of what types of renovations it could use and how to best use the space. And of course, they are starting some fundraising.
I thought we could all caravan down to Helena and tour the synagogue. The Helena Jewish community has offered to host us for a short meet and greet outside the synagogue.
I am throwing out a date that works for the Helena community – how does Sunday September 19th at 2 PM sound for a tour? We can carpool or caravan down to Helena for the day. We could do our tour at 2 and then the Helena community would meet us at 3. We can either do dinner in Helena or just head back to Great Falls.
Thoughts??? I tentatively booked us a tour for that date when I was doing some treasury work with the President today…. If that date doesn’t work, throw out some other dates and I will coordinate with the Helena community to see if it will work, but this date seemed to work for them. I want to do this sooner rather than later so I don’t have to drive in the snow…
This is a reminder about the Kabbalat Chabbat lay services led by Devorah Werner the first Friday of the month, July 2, 2021, (22 Tamuz, 5781), at 6:00 P.M. at the Bethel.
As discussed and approved by the church council on June 8, 2021, all organizations that are using the facilities will be required to follow all the current use guidelines or any new guidelines adopted by the church council or as mandated by any federal, state or local government agency.
Current guidelines include but are not limited to:
- Masks will be voluntary and are recommended if persons are or have been ill, or if people are more comfortable wearing them.
- Social Distancing would still be appreciated.
- Food or beverages will be allowed upon request. Council will review requests.
- All contact surfaces must be wiped down with a sanitization product before leaving.
- Any additional expense incurred due to requirements for additional sanitization of the facilities, or part of, shall be paid by the responsible parties involved.
The address for the Bethel is 1009 18th Avenue Southwest. click here for map and directions.
Hope to see as many of you there as possible, now that we may be getting a temporary reprieve from the pandemic.
Dear Hadassah Montana,
Greetings all! See below for (1) Link for our ZOOM Shabbat, (2) news on some of our members, and (3) Save the date.
Join us for our virtual Hadassah shabbat, with Rabbi Mark Kula and Cantor Amber Ikeman, Zooming live from Congregation Beth Shalom in Bozeman, Friday June 12, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.. Zoom link (in blue) and info below!
• We are the guests of honor at the service, Friday June 12, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
• Everyone is welcome!
• Thank you to our volunteer readers who signed up in advance, listed here in alphabetical order by last name:
o Phyllis Lefohn – Clancy
o Sara (Sikorski) McConnell – Helena
o Shari Roubinek – Kalispell
o Lee Schreiber – Las Vegas, NV (Our Chapter Advisor aka “AVP” – Area Vice President)
o Amy Solomon – Billings
o Janet Tatz – Helena
The prayer book will be visible on screen. Click here to join:
for June 12 Shabbat 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Dial in by phone:
1 669 900 6833 US
Meeting ID: 876 1653 7867
NEWS ON SOME MEMBERS
• Donna Johnson in Philipsburg, who does not have access to email, has experienced a miracle of healing and is improving. She is so pleased and wanted to convey to all how much the cards, calls and good wishes/prayers have meant to her. “Keep them coming” is her wish. She loves the contact, connection and concern. Donna Johnson, PO Box 795, Philipsburg, MT, 59858.
• Michelle Vered in Bozeman, our email administrator (Nancy is sending this particular message so I can write about Michelle) is doing better after COVID and also appreciated all the cards and letters she received.
• Sara (Sikorski) McConnell, Helena, our treasurer, got married and is expecting her first baby with a due date of January! B’sha-ah Tovah (“at a good hour” as they say in Israel – they wait on the “Mazal Tov” until the baby is born) and Mazal Tov on your recent marriage!
• Roberta Perlman, Columbus had rotator cuff surgery in January and is improving and doing PT like a good patient!
• Elaine Remez, Somers (in the Flathead), corresponding secretary, had surgery last month and we send her a big mishebeirach.
• Mona Jamison, Helena, is in our hearts after the recent passing last month of her beloved husband Van.
Cards from our chapter have been sent for all of the above (thank you Wendy Weissman, Great Falls, recording secretary filling in for corresponding while Elaine is out with surgery). Let me know if I’ve missed anyone. Thank you to all who have made donations this year or have stepped up or are considering stepping up to be an annual donor. Blessings to all of you. If you have any news you would like the chapter to share, please send it email@example.com
SAVE THE DATE
October 23-25, 2020 is still our Montana Hadassah annual meeting in Helena at the Doubletree Hotel if we are able to meet in person, and by Zoom if not. More details will be trickling out to you in the next months, but I can tell you we have entertainment already. We will be zooming in a comedian (American who made aliya) from Israel! It’s going to be fun and we are going to raise some significant funds and awareness, whether we meet in person or by Zoom!
ADASSAH NEWS by Montana Hadassah
327 W Galena St.
Butte, Montana 59701 USA
Our planned June 12 Hadassah Shabbat at Beth Shalom Synagogue in Bozeman is still on… but it’s VIRTUAL! Now the whole chapter has an opportunity to enjoy the Shabbat service in Bozeman.
The rabbi has 6 readings available for Hadassah members who want to participate – please email me directly at Nancy Oyer firstname.lastname@example.org by May 31st if you would like to be honored with a reading in English or the Shema in Hebrew.
What: Zoom Shabbat Service (Link to come in a couple of weeks)
When: Friday night June 12, 2020, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. MST
Why: Honor Hadassah, Connect, Engage (old and potential new) Members in Bozeman
Our chapter planned to sponsor (buy the food and drinks) for the oneg Shabbat (the “joy of Shabbat”) after services. There will, of course, be no oneg this time, but we can still get the word out about Hadassah, reach out to the Beth Shalom community, and connect with one another. We will host an oneg there in the future.
Look forward to hearing from you soon, and stay tuned in the next few weeks for the Zoom link to participate in the Hadassah Shabbat at Beth Shalom in Bozeman.
First of all, I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!
I miss all of you, and it seems unreal that I won’t be able to actually come there for a long time! We are living in the strangest time ever, right?
But I want to share with you my thoughts moving forward.
Regarding monthly study sessions: I think it would be wonderful to designate the first Saturday of each month for a 60 minute class/workshop. Y’all can suggest any topic you want, or leave it up to me, or some hybrid thereof.
Now, I hate to say this, but you’ve probably already figured out that I won’t be able to come for the HighHolydays. Flying just won’t be safe enough for me until there is a vaccine. Given that fact, I’d love to brainstorm with y’all about doing Zoom services of some kind. Taking the proverbial lemon and turning it into lemonade! 😁
Let me know what y’all think about these ideas soon, please.
Sending hugs to everyone!
Sent from my iPhone
EDITOR’S NOTE: These days everything has gone virtual so that we may practice social distancing and flatten the curve of the COVID19 Coronavirus pandemic that has (temporarily, we hope) changed the way we interact with each other. You can probably pick your favorite place on the globe and they will have a virtual service streaming for the benefit of their local congregation. We have had to find creative ways to stay connected and keep our faith and traditions alive and well during this time of uncertainty. But we have survived many other times of trial, and working together to strengthen the ties that bind us together, we will survive this one stronger than ever.
Here is a suggestion from an email to Don and Helen Cherry from their daughter Karen.
… there are a number of virtual passover celebrations you can join on your computer. this is one from the Palo Alto JCC you can join. it is 4-5:15 on April 8th. Or maybe your local congregation wants to find one to do together. It seems a lot of the JCC’s and synagogues are offering these…
Submitted by Helen Cherry