Category Archives: 2019
This is a reminder about the lay services led by Devorah Werner the first Friday of the month, June 7, at 6:00 P.M. at the Bethel. **THERE WILL BE NO POTLUCK THIS TIME.**
Hope to see you there.
The address for the Bethel is 1009 18th Avenue Southwest. click here for map and directions.
Compiled by Aitz Chaim over many years, this list is maintained by the Ram’s Horn. Please send any corrections or additions to email@example.com
May the source of peace send peace to all who mourn, and may we be a comfort to all who are bereaved.
The Flying STAR robot, a hybrid flying crawling quadcopter robot
Flying STAR, a Hybrid Crawling and Flying Sprawl Tuned Robot FSTAR is a robot fitted with a sprawling mechanism, wheels and propellers allowing it to both run and fly using the same motors. It can fly at 15m/s and run on the ground at 2.6 m/s. The combined capabilities of running and flying allow FSTAR to fly over obstacles or run underneath them and move inside pipes. The robot can reduce its width to crawl in confined spaces or underneath obstacles while touching the ground.
The robot can be used for safe package deliveries, search and rescue applications, manufacturing chains, agriculture, maintenance, cleaning, filming, and entertainment.
The robot was developed in the Bio-Inspired and medical Robotics Lab at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev (ME department).
As of May 2019, Israel’s population is 9,009,000. About 74.2% are Jews, 21% Muslim or Christian Arabs, and the rest non-Arab Christians and others. (Central Bureau of Statistics)
Citizens aged 0-20 comprise 43% of Israel’s population. The largest group within that category is 5- to 14-year-olds (18%). The latter category is largest in Jerusalem, making up 21% of its population. (Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem)
Jerusalem is Israel’s most populous city, with about 883,000 residents. Tel Aviv-Yafo (Jaffa) comes in second (439,000) and Haifa third (280,000). (Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem)
In Tel Aviv, the largest population segment by age is 35-44 (about 17%), while in Haifa the two highest population groups are ages 5-14 and 35-44 (12% each). (Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem)
The most common family name in Israel is Cohen (one in 50 people). Agbaria is the most common surname among Muslims, Khoury among Christians and Halabi among Druze. (Central Bureau of Statistics)
The most common first names for boys in Israel are Muhammad, Yosef, Ariel, Omer, Adam, David, Daniel, Lavi, Eitan and Uri. The most popular names for girls are Tamar, Abigail, Miriam, Sarah, Adele, Yael, Noa, Shira, Noya and Lia. (Population and Immigration Authority, 2017-2018)
A high-tech superpower
Israel has the highest number of startups per capita in the world. (2018 Global Startup Ecosystem Report)
Israel hosts about 8,200 active high-tech companies. (IVC Research Center)
30 Israeli venture capital funds raised $2.55 billion in 2018, the largest sum ever raised by Israeli VCs and 69% more than in 2017. (IVC)
Israel ranks fifth overall on the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index, moving up from #10 in 2018. In the R&D Intensity category, Israel ranks #1.
Israel’s expenditure on research and development (R&D) as a percentage of its GDP (4.21%) is the highest in the world. (OECD)
Israel ranks #2 among top 10 countries for scientific research, based on the number of scientific research papers released, the number of patents registered, the percentage of GDP spent on R&D and the number of researchers per 1,000 people. (RS Components)
More than 350 multinational corporations have R&D centers in Israel, including IBM, Intel, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Merck, HP Indigo, J&J, GE, Siemens, Qualcomm, Applied Materials and Samsung.
Israel has the world’s highest per capita number of such centers. (IVC, Ministry of Economy and Industry)
Every year, about 1,400 startups are founded in Israel and some 800 shut down. (Israel Innovation Authority)
Thirteen Israeli-founded companies with headquarters or development offices in Israel are “unicorns,” privately held startups valued at $1 billion or more: Payoneer, Taboola, Outbrain, Gett, Infinidat, ironSource, eToro, OrCam, Lemonade, Fiverr, JFrog, WalkMe and Via. (TechAviv)
The most lucrative acquisition of an Israeli company took place in 2017, when Intel bought Jerusalem-based Mobileye for $15.3 billion.
Intel is making the largest-ever corporate investment in Israel: An $11 billion production plant planned in Kiryat Gat.
Intel, which employs about 12,800 Israelis in five centers throughout the country, is the most active foreign corporate investor in Israel, putting $435 million into more than 90 Israeli companies — $120 million in 2018 alone. (IVC, Intel Capital Israel)
Healthy, happy and long-lived
Israel has the lowest rate of diet-related deaths in the world. (Global Burden of Disease Study, Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation)
Israel ranks fifth in the world for healthy longevity and 11th in the world for overall happiness. (2018 United Nations World Happiness Report)
Average life expectancy for Israeli men is 80.7, and 84.6 for women, as of 2017. (Central Bureau of Statistics)
Israel ranks 10th on the 2019 Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index.
88.6% of Israelis say they are pleased with their lives. (Central Bureau of Statistics)
85% of Israelis over the age of 20 feel safe walking alone in the dark in their residential area. (Central Bureau of Statistics)
A tree, fruit and veggie empire
In 1948, about 2% of Israel was covered in trees. Now it’s up to around 8.5%. Since its establishment in 1901, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National fund (KKL-JNF) has planted more than 240 million trees in Israel.
Israel is one of the only countries in the world that ended the 20th century with more trees than it had at the start. (KKL-JNF)
As of the end of 2018, every Israeli has access annually to an average 152 kilograms of fruit and 154kg of vegetables. (Central Bureau of Statistics)
In 2017, the leading crops produced in Israel were potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and peppers on the vegetable side; and bananas, apples, avocados and grapes on the fruit front. (Central Bureau of Statistics)
Citrus fruit is Israel’s largest agricultural export, adding up to $230 million in 2017. The value of all Israel’s fresh and processed agricultural exports was about $2.2 billion in 2016. (Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development)
A flourishing tourism industry
In 2018, Israel welcomed a record-breaking 4,120,800 million incoming tourists.
The Western Wall in Jerusalem is the most-visited tourist site, followed by other sites in Jerusalem’s Old City: the Jewish Quarter, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Via Dolorosa, Mount of Olives and the Tower of David Museum. Outside Jerusalem, the most popular tourist sites are Masada, the Church of the Annunciation, Tel Aviv Port, Capernaum and Caesarea. (Ministry of Tourism)
In 2018, almost half of all Israelis (4.1 million) traveled abroad – 2.2 million of them once, and 1.9 million twice or more. (Central Bureau of Statistics)
The Israel Hotel Association lists 370 member hotels, encompassing a total of 54,864 rooms. This number does not include hundreds of small boutique hotels and bed-and-breakfasts (tzimmers) across Israel.
The most expensive hotel rooms in Israel are the Noble Suite at Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem and the Presidential Suite at the Ritz Carlton Herzliya, each approximately $5,000 per night in high season.
Invested heavily in water desalination and conservation
Israeli households, industry and agriculture consume 2.1 billion cubic meters of water every year. (Mekorot National Water Carrier)
Israel recycles 87% of its wastewater for agriculture, much more than any other country in the world. Some 31% of irrigation water originates from wastewater treated at more than 150 plants. (Mekorot)
Sixty to 80% of Israel’s municipal water, adjusted according to season and real-time demand, flows from large coastal desal plants in Sorek, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Palmachim and Hadera. (Mekorot)
Sorek is the largest seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant in the world. The 100,000-square-meter facility can produce 624,000 cubic meters of water daily — 20% of domestic water consumption. (IDE Technologies)
Knowing the birds and the bees
As of 2019, Israel counts some 545 resident species of birds. (Israeli Birding Portal)
Every year some 500 million birds of 150 to 200 species migrate across Israel in their twice-yearly pilgrimage to and from warmer climes in March and November.
Israel has about 500 beekeepers with a total of 110,000 hives. (Israeli Honey Board)
Israel’s annual honey yield is about 3,000 tons.
About 1,600 tons of honey is consumed by Israelis every Rosh Hashana to symbolize the hope of a sweet Jewish New Year ahead. (Israeli Honey Board
Extraordinarily well educated
Twelve Israelis have been awarded Nobel prizes: S.Y. Agnon, Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Daniel Kahneman, Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko, Robert Aumann, Ada Yonath, Dan Shechtman, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel.
Israel has the highest number of engineers and scientists per capita. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel ranks third among OECD countries for the percent of its population that has attained higher education and fifth for its total expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel boasts a literacy level of 97.8% of citizens above the age of 15. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel is home to 66 institutions of higher education: Seven research universities, one open university, 23 teacher-training colleges, 21 academic colleges and 14 private colleges. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
A small Israeli-Arab village in the Lower Galilee has one of the highest numbers of doctors per capita in the world.
Tel Aviv trivia
Coastal Tel Aviv-Yafo boasts many distinctions apart from being the heart of Israel’s startup culture.
Tel Aviv is the world’s 10th most expensive city, tied with Los Angeles. (The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2019 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey)
Tel Aviv is Israel’s most expensive residential area. The average price of owner-occupied dwellings was ₪2,176,700 ($610,053) in the second quarter of 2018 (GlobalPropertyGuide) and 68 apartments priced at over ₪5 million ($1.3 million) were sold in Tel Aviv during the first half of 2018 (madlan.co.il).
Time Out of London ranks Tel Aviv the best city in the Middle East.
There are 13 beaches along Tel Aviv-Yafo’s coastline, visited by some 8.5 million people annually. (Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality)
Tel Aviv has the highest number of pet dogs per capita in the world, at one pooch per every 17 residents. (Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality)
Tel Aviv has been called the world’s top destination for vegan tourists (Daily Meal) and vegan capital of the world (The Independent). The highest concentration of vegan restaurants is in the Florentin neighborhood.
Of the 21 Israeli residents listed on the Forbes 2019 World Billionaires list, many live in Tel Aviv — including the wealthiest Israeli man, Roman Abramovich (who was listed by Forbes as Russian although he got Israeli citizenship in 2018) and Shari Arison, the richest woman in Israel.
Random awesome factoids
Israel has more than 230 museums, believed to be more museums per capita than any other country in the world. (CNN Travel)
Israel shipped $61.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. The top five exports are gems and precious metals (24% of total exports), electrical machinery and equipment (13.8%), pharmaceuticals (9.1%), optical, technical and medical apparatus (8.6%) and machinery including computers (7.8%). (World’s Top Exports)
There are more vegans (5%) and vegetarians (8%) per capita in Israel than anywhere else in the world.
In 2017, Israel hosted the world’s largest animal rights march, drawing some 30,000 activists. (PETA)
Every day, Osem produces one million bags of Bamba, Israel’s top-selling snack. Surveys show that 90% of Israeli families buy Bamba on a regular basis.
Israel has won nine Olympic medals since 1952: one gold in sailing, one silver in judo, and seven bronze (four in judo, two in sailing and one in canoeing).
Israeli rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram set a world record with a score of 20.65 points in the clubs event at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup Championship in 2018.
Guinness World Records certified in April 2019 that Isaak Hayik of Or Yehuda, Israel, is the oldest soccer player in the world.
A new Guinness World Record was set for most people using virtual reality displays at the same time, when Israeli company Mobileye made a presentation to 1,867 business leaders at the 2017 YPO Edge conference in Vancouver, Canada.
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF JEWISH GENEALOGICAL SOCIETIES CONFERENCE IN CLEVELAND, 07/28-08/02/2019
NOTE FROM JANET TATZ: Many of you have heard Ellen Baumler, Montana historian extraordinaire, present in the past. Ellen has a key interest in the history of Montana Jewry and has offered many lectures on that topic. She has also led walking tours of “Jewish Helena” including the Home of Peace cemetery. As you can see from this program announcement, Helen has recently been accepted to present on this topic at a conference in Cleveland. Perhaps you were anticipating being in Cleveland or know a friend or relative who lives in that area. Please share the news.
May 2019 Contact: Sandra Golden, Publicity Chair, IAJGS
For release: Upon receipt firstname.lastname@example.org
Area resident to speak at 39th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy set in Cleveland
Dr. Ellen Baumler of Helena has been selected as a presenter at the 39th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Cleveland, Ohio, July 28 – Aug. 2, 2019.
Baumler’s presentation, “Montana’s Pioneer Jewish Communities: A Lasting Legacy,” explores Montana’s historic Jewish communities. The gold rush brought Jewish pioneers from Germany, Prussia, Austria, and Poland as well as New York and Chicago to Montana. Opportunity drew these adventurers to mining settlements where business and religious beliefs brought them together. Jews set up the first businesses at Bannack, Alder Gulch, and at most mining boomtowns. They seized entrepreneurial opportunities and became miners, barbers, tailors, bankers, attorneys, and cattlemen, but it was especially in the stepping-stone roles of merchant and provider that many achieved economic stability and civic status in a single generation. Without rabbis or synagogues, they established benevolent societies, maintained holidays and traditions, and planted the roots of Judaism in Montana. Their legacies are the seeds of today’s Jewish congregations that flourish across the state.
Details of the conference, including registration and hotel information, are posted on the conference website: www.iajgs2019.org.
“We are excited to be able to bring this conference to Cleveland this summer, with the city’s many attractions and vibrant Jewish community,” said Ken Bravo, of Cleveland, IAJGS president and co-chair of the 2019 conference with Jay Sage, IAJGS vice president, of Newton, MA.
Sage commented, “With today’s growing interest in genealogy, a conference like this provides excitement and information to many individuals looking to explore their roots. For those of Jewish ancestry, it also offers tips for their unique challenges and research in tracing their ancestors and an opportunity to interact with a group of individuals from similar backgrounds.
Local host for the conference is the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland.
Among features of the annual conference are:
- More than 200 programs, lectures, panel discussions and workshops, focusing on genealogy methodology, available archival resources, and the history of all Jewish communities
- Presentations aimed at all Jewish genealogists, from first-timers to conference veterans
- A vendor Exhibit Hall and Resource Room with genealogy experts, mentors, and archivists for a one-stop research experience at the conference site
- Networking via popular Special Interest Group (SIG) and Birds of a Feather (BOF) meetings and luncheons
- In-depth DNA workshops
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) is an umbrella organization of more than 85 Jewish genealogical organizations worldwide offering the world of Jewish ancestry where you live. The IAJGS coordinates and organizes activities such as the annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy and provides a unified voice as the spokesperson on behalf of its members. The IAJGS’s vision is of a worldwide network of Jewish genealogical research organizations and partners working together as one coherent, effective, and respected community – enabling people to succeed in researching Jewish ancestry and heritage. Find the IAJGS at www.iajgs.org and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.iajgs.org
from the May 2011 Edition of the Jewish Magazine http://www.jewishmag.com
All names have been changed to protect privacy, though it’s fairly pointless to locals, who will recognize everyone.
Back in 1966, I refused to sing Christmas Carols. I was in the fourth grade.
Wanda Button pulled me away from a spirited game of Chinese Jump Rope at recess. Wanda and I were not friends. She had bad news.
“You killed God.”
I was nine years old and I denied it. “Did not.”
“My mom said the Jews killed God.”
I knew a little about Judaism, but I didn’t remember this part. Matzoh, I knew. Dressing up at Purim, I knew. Passover Seders, those I knew.
I was only nine, but hearing that I killed God explained a lot.
It explained why I was the only Jew in class. Who else would fess up? It explained why the Germans had been so mad at us. It also explained why my dad was home dying of cancer. He was a German, and he married a Jew. I was Jewish enough to understand we were being punished. I barely knew what it meant to be a Jew, and I was already riddled with guilt.
Even then, though, I wondered, if we killed God, God is dead. Why are these Christians still going to churches? If we killed God, I mean like, what’s the point?
I started to cry.
I went home and confronted my mother, who had problems of her own, with five kids and my very sick father. Alone after dinner, her red hands dripping over the sink, I asked her if what Wanda said was true.
Mom was tired. She may have been having her own crisis of faith. “It was a long time ago. Some people think Jewish leaders killed Jesus,” she said. “But it’s not your fault. It’s not my fault, and it might not even be true.”
It was a weak defense.
Three months later my father died. I took a week off school, and everyone in my class signed a sympathy card. Even Wanda.
By spring, I was convinced that my father was really dead, that he hadn’t just done a good job of faking cancer to become an International Secret Agent Against Communists, who were worse than us Jews even, which made me feel a rung up.
I was beginning to enjoy the wide berth that a few of my classmates cut me around the lunch table. Occasionally I gave them a look that might lead them to believe I was planning to crucify them.
I told my mother I wanted to understand more about being Jewish. She kvelled. She hired the converted daughter of a local artist to teach me a little more about the faith.
Mostly I remember Hallie Johnson for being…how did my mother put it—sent away—for mental problems after I had only three or four Hebrew lessons. Obviously this Jewish stuff drove people nuts, which was fine with me. All the normal Christian folk out there seemed to need a few crazy Jews. Sign me up.
Other than Hallie, the local Jews, all five or six families, seemed pretty nice. Not exactly normal, but nice. The summer after my father died, the Bernsteins gave us their old three-foot-deep hard-walled swimming pool. All we had to do was to drive to their house in the Country Club and pick it up in our 1958 station wagon.
Izzie Bernstein stored the pool in his bomb shelter. I remember going into the Bernstein’s basement, crawling through a concrete tunnel and into a little room lined with shelves of kosher food to fetch the pool. I remember Mrs. Bernstein talking real nice to my mom, and I remember Izzie at the kitchen table, as big around as he was tall, stacking piles of silver dollars, barely nodding when I lugged the huge box through the kitchen on my way to the car.
When Izzie died, the governor of Montana attended his funeral. Izzie was a big man, worth his weight in precious campaign contributions.
Then there were the Goldmans. I was older than David, younger than Helen. I never knew the two older Goldman kids. The oldest daughter married a rabbi when I was little. We always nodded dutifully when the bride’s mother Ida, her voice somewhere between Marlene Deitrich and a Yiddish foghorn, mentioned “my son-in-law the rabbi” at the top and bottom of every hour for the entire eight years of her daughter’s marriage.
Ida’s foghorn went silent last year, but to every Montana Jew who ever heard it, Ida Goldman’s voice echoes like a Yiddish Yodel in the Rockies.
The Goldmans were related to the Abrahams. This was eternally confusing. My mom used first names— Bertha, Toots, Sylvia, Ben. “Montana Jews didn’t need last names,” she claimed. There were so few Montana Jews; I guess I was the only one who was confused.
The Abraham family had two Jewish brothers who used to be business partners. Mom admonished me never to mention one brother in front of the other. I could never remember who was who. My rule? Never open my mouth in front of any male Abraham.
One Abraham brother who didn’t go into the family business may soon win a Nobel Prize, which is an award from the guy who felt guilty about inventing dynamite. Nobel, of course, must have been Jewish. Another Abraham daughter is a Hollywood producer whose ex-husband lives in her backyard, and the last of the Abrahams knows more about everything than anyone else in town (just ask him).
One import to our local Tribe was Annie, a fashionable woman married to a South African Jewish expat. She was bleached blonde and always vaguely miserable. My mother made sure no one else was in the room when she furtively told me Annie’s husband might have ‘connections’. I secretly wondered what a man with connections looked like naked.
I almost drowned in Annie’s pool when I was seven years old. Many years later, long after Annie’s family left Montana, after days of looking, the authorities found someone’s missing child, dead under a tarp that covered their pool.
The most beautiful women in our town were the Greenberg girls. Minnie Greenberg was an Italian war bride. I can only imagine how depressing it must have been for her, not speaking a word of English, which probably explains why Minnie was blue. Her three daughters were as lovely as any magazine picture, and she had an entire bedroom in her house devoted to a doll collection, which no one was allowed to touch.
The Levys? Their claim to fame was that their oldest son Saul was on a national television game show. This made him a local celebrity, until he died, very young, of the same rare cancer that also took the life of his younger sister. We recently re-discovered Beth, a Levy sister, who lives near on the San Andreas Fault. Figures.
The last Jew I remember is Mr. Jacoby, who scraped by in a two room flat facing Central Avenue. He was small with a hooked nose and a heavy French accent. He had no one. My mother doesn’t even remember him, but I do.
When I was growing up the entire Jewish community would gather at two places: the Malmstrom Air Force Base Chapel just outside town, and once a year, any vacant Jewish-owned storefront for the Aitz Chaim Hebrew Association Garage Sale.
We always had great rummage sales: it was the High Holy Day of my Jewish calendar: I’d come home with enough Greenberg girl dresses and Abraham toys to be the envy of my lower southside neighborhood for weeks.
Occasionally the Air Force flew in rabbis to serve the smattering of Jews who temporarily augmented our Tribe. We’d roll in a huge armoire, a velvet covered Torah-on-Wheels, into the Malmstrom Air Force Base Chapel, and placed it off to the side of the big blonde wood cross—never in front of it. Union prayer books slid next to New Testaments in slots behind each pew.
I don’t remember the services, but I remember the room off to the right, where food was served and us kids, after a cookie or two, awkwardly waited for the whole thing to end.
I haven’t been to our Base Chapel in ages. When I visit big cities, I slow down at synagogues, I touch their stone walls, sometimes I even read the posters behind the glass.
The closest I’ve been to a service in decades is this year’s Seder. A former Great Falls Jew—the one divorced from the rabbi–invited twenty eight guests into her flat in Chelsea, gave six visitors three different Hagaddahs to share, and directed our attention to the iMac in the corner, where, from somewhere in the Middle East, Ida Goldman’s granddaughter, a Montana Jew Once Removed, supervised the proceedings, dressed in her battle fatigues, via Skype.
I could almost hear Ida Goldman proudly rasp at the bottom of the hour, “That’s my granddaughter, the rabbi.”
One of the few remaining Jewish matriarchs passed away a few days ago. Last spring, Ida Goldman died; her sister Yetti Abraham went the year before. It’s become a spring tradition. Remind me to send my mother out of town next April.
It was only after I bought the sympathy card that I realized I wasn’t sure where to send it. Yetti’s husband passed three years ago, her kids all moved away. I held the card in my hand until I had an idea. I’m sure our mailman will nod and see that it’s properly delivered. I’m going to address the envelope:
Great Falls MT 59401
EDITOR’S NOTE: No one should experience a shooting incident in their house of worship and prayer, but more and more of us are more and more frequently. After the outcries of “never again” and the candlelight vigils and the speeches and actions of solidarity and defiance, then what? These are the life stories of real people who have suffered the very thing we all fear could happen to us. May we keep them ever in our thoughts and prayers, and may we be ever vigilant and watchful for ways to educate others and ourselves regarding antisemitism in our own communities and hearts. A little light can dispel a lot of darkness.
Chabad of Poway turns first Shabbat after shooting into a celebration of life
EDITOR’S NOTE: This might encourage some of you to write down your memories and send them in to email@example.com for publication in the Ram’s Horn.
My memories of the Butte Jewish Community and how it came to be
This story must begin in Russia from where my ancestors came. We were serfs in that hate filled land. The Ehrlichs, like other Jews, were permitted to build a small hovel in a shtetl. The home had to be of wood… so it could be burned from time to time at the whim of the landowner, the Cossacks, or the Czar; most had a dirt floor. Serfdom was like slavery; you could grow or produce whatever you want, but everything that you produce belonged to the landowner who permitted your existence so long as he felt like it. One common rule was the requirement that a Jewish girl could be married only after she spent the night in the landowner’s house. Jews countered by sending the girl as unattractive as possible, head shaven, dirty and wearing old clothes; hoping that she would be sent back home unviolated. The bride would then appear at her wedding wearing a wig; and henceforth all her married life. This custom is still followed in many orthodox communities to this day; although many do not know the origin of the tradition. Protective embarrassment or ignorance?
Meyer Ehrlich wanted to marry Rachel Feldman and asked his father (whose name I don’t know) to talk to Rachel’s father to help arrange it. Rachel, however, had an older sister, Leah. David Feldman, the girl’s father, made it clear that the older daughter must marry first, and Meyer agreed to marry Leah. Yes, this sounds like the biblical story of our ancestors. Deviousness seems to be an Ehrlich trait.
Meyer and Leah saved enough money so that they were able to hop the train immediately after the wedding and head for America. They left from a German port, steerage class, and arrived in New York in 1895. They lived in Patterson, N.J. and produced the first two of eight children: Rose and Dave (my father). Meyer had heard land in America could still be had for free (the Homestead Act) and he wanted to be a landowner. He clearly thought the glories and status of the Russian landowner would also apply in America. He and Leah moved to Denver and applied. Meyer was a skillful tailor and supported his growing family while awaiting response from the government. Meyer soon learned that the best homestead plots had been taken, but he had the choice of three and he traveled to inspect them, and accepted a grant in northern Idaho near Plummer junction (a few miles down the lake from Coeur d’ Alene).
Life was difficult on the homestead, the land was only suitable as a tree farm, and within a year or two Leah took the younger kids and went to Butte where she had a relative. Meyer and the older kids stayed on to fulfill the requirements to gain ownership of the land. They all moved to Butte by 1915.
During the time on the homestead the Ehrlichs had very good relations with the Kootnai Indians; and they were “visited” by a representative of the Catholic Mission at Cataldo, whom they sent away such that he did not return. The Catholics of course were on mission to convert mainly the Indians, but Jews souls as well were targeted. The Indians still remember and resent loss of their culture and language in the Catholic schools. To this day the Indian tribes and members specifically go to Jewish lawyers when they need representation.
Meyer and Leah had eight children between 1896 and 1914: Rose, Dave, Herman, Lou, Marion, Mitch, Freda, and Joe. Dave worked for the Milwaukee RR and, along with Meyer’s meager earnings, financed the education of the younger brothers and sisters, who also worked odd jobs as they could. Usually Dave was working two jobs at a time, sometimes three. Dave completed seventh grade but did not go to any higher education, unlike all the other kids, other than Joe who was not capable. Rose and Marion became teachers and moved out to the Seattle area.
Jobs were hard to find during the depression. Dave got Herman a fireman’s job on the Milwaukee running from Harlowtown MT to Aberdeen, S.D. He would overnight in Aberdeen and work the train back west the next day. He got to know the town and learned of a jewelry store available. Herman had attended Bradley Horological School (watch and clock making and repairing) and was able to buy the jewelry and watch store in Aberdeen, S.D. Lou became a pharmacist and owned Henry’s Pharmacy on West Granite St. in Butte, and Mitch became a dentist and had a practice in the Medical Arts Building at Park and Main in Butte.
In the 1930’s there was tremendous antisemitism worldwide. Butte was no exception. One day antisemetic posters appeared all over town blaming the Jews for killing Jesus and making matzos with blood from Christian children, and all sorts of problems. The Jewish community had a special meeting in the Temple to discuss it. Nobody knew what to do and all were scared. Dave noticed the printer’s mark on the bottom of many of the posters which identified the print shop in Three Forks. He said he knew the owner because he used to work with him on the railroad. He got Mitch, Herman, and Lou to drive over to Three Forks in Mitch’s car, where Dave went in and spoke to the owner while “the boys” waited in the car outside. The printer said the order and the money for the antisemetic posters came from Senator Rankin’s office! He became very apologetic and said he wouldn’t be doing any more similar orders.
Jeanette Rankin was the daughter of a pharmacist in Virginia City. In fact her father’s old drug store is still a tourist attraction there. She had been elected to the Senate in time to vote against US participation in WWI; and she was in the Senate at the time of Pearl Harbor and cast the only “no” vote to the declaration of war against Germany and Japan (WWII). She was a notable antisemite and had many supporters in Butte.
One of those supporters was Monsignor English; a big higher-up in the Catholic Church. English was famous for his Sunday sermons at mass blaming the Jews for killing Jesus and such. Parishoners of his Sacred Heart Church frequently came to Mitch’s office or Lou’s store and described the antisemitism, but said they could do nothing about it. So when you hear the claims of Butte’s open-mindedness and how everybody got along with good feelings, you should know nonsense is being put out before you.
Most of the Jewish men in town were members of B’Nai Brith. In 1936 they hosted the BB national convention at the Finlen Hotel in Butte. The leaders were Billy Meyer, (lawyer) and of course his son Sig Meyer (lawyer), Avron Canty (clothing) and his father, Sig Newman and Mel Rafish (shoes), Sammy Finberg (furniture), Kalman Rudolph (furniture), Henry Coddon (wholesale paper), Emil and Ed Marans (womens wear), and of course the Ehrlich boys, also Harry Gronfein and his son Stanley (mens clothing), and Dave Schultz, (clothing), and others. Phil Judd (sporting goods and hardware), also Dr. Sam Rafish, the other Jewish dentist in Montana. Everyone said it was the finest event ever. Jews were almost always shopkeepers.
Butte hit it bigtime after the 1905 World’s Fair in Chicago, which demonstrated the electric light for the first time. Suddenly copper was in high demand for electrification, even though this was somewhat held back by the demands of WWI and the depression years. Since the completion of electrification by means of copper wire in the 1950’s, copper demand plateaued, and with the development of fiberoptics and satellite communication it has plummeted. Butte’s mines closed in the 1960’s and the pit which replaced them has also ceased operations. Butte’s Jewish population has moved on to other locales.
During the Second World War (1939-1945), my father Dave worked the railroad terminal without a day off. He was on call 24 hours a day. He often would return to meet a train at two in the morning. He always walked the 7 or so blocks on his wooden prosthetic leg, He didn’t have a car until the mid 1950’s. My mother stayed home and had insomnia. Often she would want to walk uptown (she never drove) at odd hours of the night, and she’d take me with her, especially if the weather was nice. Many stores were open 24 hours because the mines were always running 24 hrs/day and people were always walking the streets. Usually I’d get an ice cream or some candy. There was never concern about being bothered on the street; everybody was extremely polite. “Yes ma’am”, “good evening sir”, and a tip of the hat greeting was almost universal. There was almost never any kind of theft or break-in, even among this population of tough miners. The reason was that nearly every home was well stocked with hunting rifles, shotguns and handguns. Every shopkeeper dealt heavily in cash, often silver dollars, and had a weapon. Everybody knew that many women had a weapon in their purse or elsewhere. Politeness was the norm.
I had a very good half-Jewish friend named Jack Rosenberg. They owned Rosenberg’s furniture and appliance. The Rosenberg’s like many people heated their home with wood and had a woodpile in their yard. One day I was over there and Jack’s father gave us a 12 gauge shotgun shell and a brace and bit and said somebody has been stealing from his firewood pile. He told us to drill a hole in a piece of firewood and drop the shell down inside and conceal the hole by mixing some glue and sawdust and filling the hole with it. We placed the fixed firewood piece in a prominent place. A few days later Jack’s dad said a neighbor from down the street was “in today and bought a new stove” for his parlor. We knew what that meant.
My first few years of grade school I walked from our house on Main St to the Monroe school in east Butte, near Utah St. I walked thru the gas works and past St. Joe’s (the catholic) school. Of course I knew many of the kids there and they knew I was a Jew. Almost every day they’d throw rocks or snowballs at me. Being outnumbered I usually had to just run the gauntlet. Occasionally there’d be only one or two of them and I could get a punch in before running; or if I was with another kid (non-catholic) or two from Monroe school I was golden. Then we’d have a mass snowball or rockfight-depending on the season. My public school friends then were Bobby Vawter, Joe Holly whose family owned the Supreme Market where we did all our grocery shopping, and Nicky and Jimmy Malkovich, and Chico Kovic. Some of these kids were catholic but went to the public school. Billy Edwards was catholic but he was my friend because his grandmother Mrs. Silver was a friend of my grandmother (Leah) and they always were trading baked goods.
Butte always had the image of rough and ready. Hard drinking and hard fighting. This started with the underground wars of the copper kings but extended to the streets and schoolyards. (It continues today with Bob Robinson… the navy seal who killed Osama Bin Laden.) Growing up in the 1950’s I remember schoolyard fistfights nearly every recess and dismissal, although I can’t remember the reason for any. It was common for a kid to go home bloodied and come to school the next day as though nothing had happened. Nobody ever carried a grudge. I do not remember of any kid bringing a weapon to school. Fair fighting fists only.
And we had easy and common access to guns of all kinds. I myself went with my friend Bobby Vawter on our bikes to shoot rabbits at Big Butte, (the mountain south of the city). Each of us with a 22 rifle strapped over the shoulder. Bobby was not Jewish, would take the rabbits home and his mother would skin and cook them. My mother, of course, would not touch them.
The community was pretty observant in the old days. On Pesach there would be a community seder at the Finlen. The ladies would make all the foods and bring them for everybody to share and afterward talk about. “The kneidlach Mrs. so-and-so made were so hard you’d need a nutcracker”; “that soup was so greasy it could go into the crankcase”; and similar comments.
Nobody made outdoor sukkot but each year an arch was erected over the bima inside the Temple and decorated with greenery and fruits. Talesim and kippot were never worn. Services were Friday nite only with emphasis to be finished in time to get to the high school stadium for kickoff. I don’t remember any Saturday religious events; everybody worked in their stores.
Butte’s Jewish community was pretty observant in the ’40’s and even into the ’50’s, but as the population dwindled the Judaism observance did as well. The orthodox synagogue closed up and became members of the Reform Temple. The quality of the employed rabbis deteriorated too: One was known to the police for unusual sexual interests and let go. He was replaced by “Rabbi Benjamin Kelson” who tutored me for my Bar Mitzvah. It was discovered later that he did hnot actually have “smicha” (ordination).
Soon the community gave up employing a rabbi and relied on bringing in rabinical students for major functions. I believe that now the Temple stands empty nearly all the time and is rarely opened any more. About a year ago I was in Butte with my son Daniel, who is an orthodox rabbi, (with smicha!) and he offered to conduct a proper Shabbat observance for the community, at no charge. We were bluntly discouraged and told “people have other plans”.
I think that describes the rise and fall of Butte’s Jewish community.
Fred Ehrlich; May 2019
Missoula Mishkan Milestone RESCHEDULED
October 18, 19, and 20
Our wiser angels emerged to recommend that we reschedule our Shabbaton for Fall so that Rabbi Laurie can have the necessary recovery time for her health challenges. We are VERY excited to announce a new set of dates: October 18, 19, and 20, the last three days of Sukkot! So, we hope you will revise your plans and join us then.
We are thrilled to further develop the new research for “Missoula’s Jewish Treasures”, a groundbreaking exhibit of the Jewish history of Missoula, as well as offer inspiring worship, learning, and an elegant Motzi Shabbat evening of Jazz. We look forward to celebrating with you in October!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the Rabbi who led Dawn Schandelson’s funeral service.
Congregation Beth Shalom of Bozeman, Montana is proud to announce that Rabbi Mark Hayim Kula will join the Beth Shalom community as rabbi beginning July 1. Rabbi Kula comes to Congregation Beth Shalom with a wealth of warmth, enthusiasm, and experience, having served as a rabbi and cantor in Miami, Florida for 30 years.
“I am honored and delighted to join the Congregation Beth Shalom family and Bozeman community,” Rabbi Kula wrote in a letter to the community. “These are exciting and challenging times. Let us take care of ourselves and others, nurture our relationships, and tap into profound Jewish wisdom. We will then surely thrive and be blessed.” Amber Ikeman, Beth Shalom’s Program Director and Cantorial Soloist, will work closely with Rabbi Kula to serve the Jewish community in Bozeman and the surrounding area.
Rabbi Kula was ordained as a rabbi by The Rabbinical Academy of New York in 2012, and as a cantor by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1986. He has extensive experience as a spiritual leader and Jewish educator, having served at Bet Shira Congregation in Miami, Florida for 30 years, first as cantor and then as rabbi. Most recently, Rabbi Kula has been enjoying a year living in Missoula with his family.
According to Sara Schwerin, president of the board at Congregation Beth Shalom, “We have seen a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and engagement from our community over the past 18 months, as we searched for the right person to lead Beth Shalom. Our entire community is looking forward to the energy, kindness, leadership and spiritual guidance that Rabbi Kula offers. We could not be happier about the leadership team that we have put in place to guide us into the future.”
In June 2018, Beth Shalom Rabbi Ed Stafman retired after ten years of service. Since then, Beth Shalom has enjoyed monthly visits from Rabbi Michael Lotker, who will continue to serve as Beth Shalom’s part-time interim rabbi until Rabbi Kula’s July 1, 2019 start date. Beth Shalom wishes to thank Rabbi Michael Lotker for providing such wonderful leadership over the past year, and for helping to ensure a smooth transition for the community. Beth Shalom also wishes to thank Rabbi Emeritus Ed Stafman for his continued connection to Beth Shalom and his leadership in the greater Bozeman community.
Please join Congregation Beth Shalom two Fridays each month at 6 p.m. for Shabbat services and each Saturday morning for Torah Study at 9:30 a.m. Rabbi Kula, Rabbi Lotker and Rabbi Emeritus Stafman will be joining us for a special celebration of Shavuot on Saturday, June 8; please check our website for details closer to the date.
All are welcome to join Congregation Beth Shalom in worship, learning and social action. Please contact the Temple office at (406) 556-0528, check us out on Facebook “Congregation Beth Shalom – Bozeman, Montana” or visit our website http://www.bethshalombozeman.org to learn more.
Congregation Beth Shalom is a place where members of all ages come together to be a learning and spiritual community joyfully praying together and celebrating Jewish history and tradition. Founded in 1994, and serving the greater Yellowstone community, Congregation Beth Shalom of Bozeman is the largest Jewish congregation in Montana.