Category Archives: Tikkun Olam

TO ACCOUNT FOR OUR ACTIONS, NURTURE OUR SOULS, AND SEEK HEALING, DR. ANDREW REHFELD, PH.D., PRESIDENT, HUC

Dear HUC Community,

The month of Elul is traditionally a time of reflection, preparing us for the Jewish New Year. It is a time to account for our actions, nurture our souls, seek healing, and prepare for the possibilities of the future. These days provide an opportunity for personal self-study, repair within ourselves and our communities, and reconciliation with others.

HUC-JIR is proud to be joining the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), American Conference of Cantors (ACC), Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE), and the Women’s Rabbinic Network (WRN) in presenting a meaningful learning program on the theme of teshuvah as we enter this season.

“On Repentance and Repair: A Reform Movement Program for the High Holy Days and Beyond,” available for free download, will explore our understanding of teshuvah, as we continue to grapple with the hard legacies of our past. This program includes a 45-minute video resource and discussion guide featuring Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, author of the forthcoming book, On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in an Unapologetic World, in conversation with Rabbi Jill Maderer, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Shalom, Philadelphia. It is introduced by Rabbi Mary Zamore, WRN Executive Director; and includes closing reflections by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ President, Rabbi Hara Person, CCAR Chief Executive, and me. I hope that you will find this program a source of support during this period of reflection and growth.

I also encourage you to explore the HUC Connect High Holy Days Playlist, comprised of College Commons podcasts and HUC Connect webinars, in which our faculty scholars and other experts illuminate significant contemporary themes and issues related to this season of study, introspection, and repentance. The programs range from discussing optimism in a time of uncertainty, gender and liturgy, and Jewish thought and reparations, to reflections on freedom and social justice, and guiding the emotional needs of children and one another. They will enrich your understanding and support your aspirations for the New Year.

May our learning together prepare us for the hard work of the weeks ahead. My wishes to you and your family for a New Year of blessing and peace.

Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D.
President

MONTANA JEWISH PROJECT COMPLETES PURCHASE OF MONTANA’S OLDEST SYNAGOGUE

Helena, MT— After nearly a year of fundraising, the Montana Jewish Project (MJP) bought back Helena’s Temple Emanu-El and will return it to Jewish use for the first time since 1935.
“We are thrilled to have succeeded in this monumental effort,” said Rebecca Stanfel, president of the Montana Jewish Project’s Board.
Roman Catholic Bishop Austin Vetter played a key role in the sale. With his staff, he met with MJP for months, as MJP renegotiated from buying historic Temple Emanu-El and surrounding properties to buying only the synagogue.
“It’s been my pleasure to work with the Montana Jewish Project through this process. It’s vital for all of us that people of faith focus on the good that we can do together instead of our differences. My prayers are with them and Montana’s Jewish Community for God’s blessing in this new endeavor,” Bishop Vetter said. MJP will also lease the open lawn next door to the historic synagogue for community use.
“We are so grateful for Bishop Austin Vetter for his enthusiasm and support. He worked with us for many months, and extended closing deadlines twice.
“We are also grateful to the more than 2,000 donors from Helena and across Montana and the United States who made this dream a reality. Without their generosity and their gifts that ranged from $5 to $100,000, we know we would not be here today. We’re also thankful for the interfaith support we received from many Montana synagogues and churches, as well as from Montana businesses. This was truly a community-wide effort,” Stanfel said.
The Montana Jewish Project was founded by members of Helena’s Jewish community over a year ago and entered into a landmark purchase agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena on November 10, 2021, for the historic building once known as Temple Emanu-El. The group plans a re-dedication and celebration at the synagogue later in the fall.
“We know our work is only just starting,” said Julie Bir, member of the Montana Jewish Project’s Board of Directors. “We can’t wait to fulfill our mission: to create a statewide center for Jewish life, enhance interfaith opportunities, combat antisemitism in Montana schools, and bring to reality the Jewish value of “repairing the world.”
MJP has big plans. Once funding is secured, MJP will hire a traveling director of programming who will oversee education, speakers, cultural events, and foster a sense of larger community for all of Montana’s Jews. In addition, MJP will create curricula about the history of Jewish Montana and the realities of being Jewish in the Treasure State for schools across the state. Returning to the first home for Jewish life in Montana will anchor future generations to the rich history of Judaism in the state.
“Helena was one of only four state capitals in the nation without a synagogue or Jewish Center,” Bir said. “We’ve just changed that. We’re also excited for Helena’s Jewish community to have a permanent place to meet for religious observance, cultural events, and community-growing.”
“Now that we have the building as our base, we want to pivot and immediately transition to helping Jewish life in Montana thrive,” said Stanfel. “Our all-volunteer-led organization launched programming already, but it’s important we hire a professional who can oversee this and create new cultural pathways for Montana Jews to connect to their traditions. Now that we have this incredible building, it is essential we keep community support.”
In 1891, Helena’s Jewish community-built Temple Emanu-El. The cornerstone is inscribed with 5651, that year in the Hebrew calendar. The synagogue’s first president described the new building as a “gift to ornament the city we love.” But in 1935, during the Great Depression, the congregation gave Temple Emanu-El to the state of Montana for $1, asking only that it be used for a “good and social purpose.” The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena bought it to house administrative offices in 1981. In the past year, the bishop streamlined administrative operations, consolidating three separate office locations into the new Center for Catholic Life in Helena. Temple Emanu-El is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We welcome all our supporters, the Jewish community across Montana and here in Helena, and the broader community to celebrate with us,” said Bir. “We have worked to carry forward the legacy of Montana’s earliest Jewish settlers, who built Temple Emanu-El despite the obstacles they faced.”
A ceremonial signing will take place at 10 AM, August 26 at the former Temple Emanu-El (515 North Ewing) with Bishop Vetter. Members of the media and the public are invited to attend. Weather permitting, this will be outside the building.

FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION, THE MONTANA JEWISH PROJECT

From Generation to Generation
August 25, 2022

Dear MJP Supporters,

We did it!

This is the email we have been dreaming of writing to you for a year and a half. Today MJP is closing on Montana’s first synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, and returning it to the Jewish community after 87 years.

We could not have accomplished this milestone without your support. We are grateful beyond words for your donations, your encouragement, your ideas, and your help.

Without the incredible community support we received, MJP would not be reclaiming this building. Every dollar donated, every collection raised from a synagogue or church, every fundraiser held in MJP’s honor, every volunteer hour, and every email sharing hope and ideas helped bring us to this joyful day.

Read on for more details.

  • Please join us
  • WHEN? Tomorrow, Friday, August 26, at 10 AM
  • WHERE? At the synagogue, 515 Ewing, Helena, MT 59601
  • WHAT? Ffor a ceremonial signing of the closing paperwork, which we are also inviting media to attend. Weather permitting, we will be outside, right in front of this majestic building. We will be there with bells on!

Our journey—and our work—are just beginning. We are eager to launch more statewide programming including education, Jewish cultural events, interfaith outreach, community programs, and more.

Stay tuned for future emails about ways to get involved in volunteering, participating in programs, and supporting our ongoing work. We would also love to hear from you about what you are looking for in the coming year’s programming. We can’t wait to continue this journey with you.

With gratitude as always,
Rebecca Stanfel

Our new home!

Adapted from today’s press release

Montana Jewish Project completes purchase of Montana’s oldest synagogue

After nearly a year of fundraising, the Montana Jewish Project (MJP) bought back Helena’s Temple Emanu-El and will return it to Jewish use for the first time since 1935.

Roman Catholic Bishop Austin Vetter played a key role in the sale. With his staff, he met with MJP for months, as MJP renegotiated from buying historic Temple Emanu-El and surrounding properties to buying only the synagogue. MJP will also lease the open lawn next door to the historic synagogue for community use

“It’s been my pleasure to work with the Montana Jewish Project through this process. It’s vital for all of us that people of faith focus on the good that we can do together instead of our differences. My prayers are with them and Montana’s Jewish Community for God’s blessing in this new endeavor,” Bishop Vetter said.

We are grateful for Bishop Austin Vetter for his enthusiasm and support. He worked with us for many months, and extended closing deadlines twice. We are also grateful to the more than 2,000 donors from Helena and across Montana and the United States who made this dream a reality. Without their generosity and their gifts that ranged from $5 to $100,000, we know we would not be here today. We’re also thankful for the interfaith support we received from many Montana synagogues and churches, as well as from Montana businesses. This was truly a community-wide effort.

The Montana Jewish Project is an all-volunteer-led organization, founded by members of Helena’s Jewish community over a year ago. After entering into a landmark purchase agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena in November 2021, MJP has been raising funds to reacquire the historic building once known as Temple Emanu-El..

We know our work is only just starting. We can’t wait to fulfill our mission: to create a statewide center for Jewish life, enhance interfaith opportunities, combat antisemitism in Montana schools, and bring to reality the Jewish value of “repairing the world.”

MJP has big plans. Once funding is secured, MJP will hire a traveling director of programming who will oversee education, speakers, cultural events, and foster a sense of larger community for all of Montana’s Jews. In addition, MJP will create curricula about the history of Jewish Montana and the realities of being Jewish in the Treasure State for schools across the state. Returning to the first home for Jewish life in Montana will anchor future generations to the rich history of Judaism in the state.

Helena was one of only four state capitals in the nation without a synagogue or Jewish Center. We’ve just changed that. We’re also excited for Helena’s Jewish community to have a permanent place to meet for religious observance, cultural events, and community-growing.

Now that we have the building as our base, we want to pivot and immediately transition to helping Jewish life in Montana thrive. Our volunteers have launched programming already, but it’s important we hire a professional who can oversee this and create new cultural pathways for Montana Jews to connect to their traditions. Now that we have this incredible building, it is essential we keep community support.

We welcome all our supporters, the Jewish community across Montana and here in Helena, and the broader community to celebrate with us. We have worked to carry forward the legacy of Montana’s earliest Jewish settlers, who built Temple Emanu-El despite the obstacles they faced.

We are planning a rededication and celebration at the synagogue later in the fall. Stay tuned for more details on this.

Follow us across the below social media channels to stay up-to-date on the latest MJP happenings as well as learn interesting historic facts about Jewish people and communities across Montana.

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

Copyright © 2021 Montana Jewish Project, All rights reserved.

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

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION, NOT PART OF THE PROBLEM, BY RABBI CHAIM BRUK

This is a guest column for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle for July 2, 2022.Read Full Article

CHRISTMAS AT THE MERCY HOME

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
Email: wendy@weissman.com

RETURNING THE HISTORIC HELENA SYNAGOGUE TO JEWISH USE, BY REBECCA STANFEL

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?

Best,
Rebecca Stanfel, President
Montana Jewish Project
(916) 216-1580
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MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR STEPPING DOWN BUT NOT LEAVING, BY DR. IRVING WEISSMAN

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Irving Weissman has been the director of the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, since 2003. He is also a brother of our own Jerry Weissman. Besides being extremely interesting, I found this article to be encouraging for those of us who may not do well in a traditional school setting, but who nevertheless have a child’s insatiable curiosity to find out how things work. I’m sure Dr. Weissman didn’t have a clue that his curiosity would lead him to be so influential and successful in the emerging field of stem cell research. It is also interesting to contemplate what are the attributes of a good leader, and what sustains an environment of learning at an institute and what could kill it.

Stepping down but not leaving

I’m writing this explanation for the faculty and staff of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine, and for all of the trainees, and especially for the individual donors and other institutions and foundations that allowed the birth and growth of the institute. And I hope it is also useful for the Stanford search committee that will choose my successor, and our Scientific Advisory Board who are all leading stem cell biologists, and whose advice should help the committee make the right choice.

When I was 10 and growing up in Great Falls, Montana, one of my teachers gave me a book called “Microbe Hunters” by Paul de Kruif. It was a book about the lives and work of the great microbe hunters of the past two centuries—people who may or may not have been trained scientists but who had in them the curiosity to wonder how things worked, people who discovered microbes and the diseases they caused—and who translated their discoveries as soon as they could to benefit the health of those stricken with these diseases. And when they got into these clues to “how things work,” they put all of their time and energy in their labs into their projects. Elsewhere, I’ve written about the incredible luck I’ve had to find, starting at 16 in high school, labs that were led by great role models such as Ernst Eichwald in Great Falls, a pathologist and immunogeneticist of tissue transplantation who worked in a rural hospital without a university or medical school. Eichwald had neither the time nor the inclination to tell me what to do and how, but left me largely on my own to explore the emerging fields of immunology and transplantation and cancer, and how my own brand of ‘how things work’ emerged to ask how the systems developed from fetal life on.

I had curiosity, I had the openings to work in a lab (actually, none of us think of it as work), but I didn’t know if I had the drive to go at it day and night, weekdays and weekends, like the microbe hunters, or have their ability to translate discoveries.

I knew I didn’t have the discipline to devote hours to memorizing texts to get great grades—in all of my schooling I never made the honor roll (the top 10% in grades). But when I hit my subject, I realized it took no discipline to be completely absorbed, to observe and to ask how did things work and how did systems develop to get what I observed and could verify by experiment. In fact, I did not have the discipline not to spend as much time as I could in the research. Albeit, much of the time I’d be doing all the other things my Montana friends and I did during high school and college, but my mind was always on the research questions that came from my observations and experiments. In retrospect, perhaps the greatest part of my luck was that the three patrons/mentors in my career¬–Ernst Eichwald in Montana, Henry Kaplan at Stanford, and Jim Gowans at Oxford–never told me what research to do. So I got to follow my own curiosity from high school on, learning more from what these mentors had accomplished than I could by having them manage (or micromanage) my research. Eichwald taught me that genetics can show what can happen, Gowans taught me that physiological experiments in the body can show what does happen, and Henry Kaplan, the great radiologist who founded the radiation treatments of cancers, taught me that basic science can be translated to curative human therapies. From that, I finally came to understand that all humans with diseases were in fact experiments of nature, and that they had in their bodies the hidden life-history of how the diseases developed—in my view often from stem cells—and which, if understood, could lead to therapies.

As I said already, I’ve told the story of my luck and life in science elsewhere many times. But now that I’m stepping down from the directorship of the institute, and from a position of leadership in a field that I was lucky enough to discover and develop, I wonder if, and whether, and how this legacy might continue at Stanford.

What is the field? Officially it’s stem cells, which are the only cells in the born organism that sustains all of the tissues and organs for life, and which can reveal the secrets of almost all–if not all–diseases that occur after we are born, as well as the therapies (including by transferred healthy stem cells) that can continue healthy regeneration. In born organisms, blood stem cells make blood and only blood, brain stem cells make brain and only brain, and so on.

What is the defining characteristic of stem cells? Only stem cells in these tissues and organs make more of themselves when they divide, which is now called self-renewal. Except for renewed stem cells, all of the daughter cells from cell divisions go through decision trees to change states quantally, so that a blood-forming stem cell self-renews blood-forming stem cells. They do this by keeping open for expression the genes that were open in the parent stem cell, and keeping closed those that would take it out of self-renewal. But some of the daughter cells of stem cells open some genes that were closed, and close others that were open, to make a daughter progenitor cell that can make all blood cells (multipotent progenitor or MPP) but cannot self-renew.

Other quantal steps give rise to progenitor cells with more restricted potential, some of which will make red blood cells and platelets, while others make the innate immune system’s macrophages and neutrophiles that scavenge microbes or dying or dead–or as we found–dangerous cells or organisms. Yet other progenitors make the lymphocytes that, at the single cell level, are each precommitted to recognize the foreign shape of microbes or chemicals or cancer cells or tissue transplants from a donor. The rare lymphocyte that encounters those shapes divide like stem cells in self-renewal to make thousands of immune cells with the same or almost the same immune receptors for shapes as the cell they came from. This activity is the basis of vaccinations and our natural immunity that protect us from microbes previously encountered, even in childhood.

I started in the field of lymphocytes, drawn by the amazing properties of immune lymphocytes. I studied only one population of lymphocytes initially—the T cells born in the thymus (I showed that while a medical student in Jim Gowans’ lab in Oxford) that mediate rejection of cells, not microbes, but cells infected by microbes. Other lymphocytes called B cells looked just like T cells, but when their cell surface immune receptors were discovered, they were the precursors of antibodies that permeate all intercellular spaces in the body, and which bring in other proteins or cells to destroy the microbes for which their antibody combining sites were selected. While many, including Gowans, thought that T and B cells were just minor variations from each other, several labs had discovered in birds that T cells came from the thymus, and B cells from an organ called the Bursa. I decided to track the origins of both T cells and B cells, and that led me to blood forming stem cells.

From there came the clinical transplantation of human blood stem cells, and then isolation of human fetal brain stem cells and their translation, then the role of normal stem cells in the stepwise generation of cancer stem cells, with the understanding of blood forming stem cell clones as the requisite cell types that can accumulate a few dangerous mutations and a lot of irrelevant mutations. The understanding that one could use purified normal and leukemia (or other cancer) stem cells to understand which changes occur at each step of the transition from normal stem cells to cancer stem cells has revealed a strange and unexpected fact: a mutation or chromosomal anomaly in a single (blood-forming) stem cell can allow that cell to migrate to compete for other stem cell homes (niches), and eventually most or all blood formation comes from that altered stem cell, creating a widespread group of diseases that previously were not understood. And the leukemia stem cells overexpressed a surface protein that prevented scavenger macrophages from eating them, even though some of the mutations had led the cell to put out an ‘eat me’ danger signal that mediated the macrophages to eat and kill them. We now know that all cancers and at least some pre-cancers, and all atherosclerotic lesions causing heart attacks and strokes, and all tested fibrotic diseases of the lung, liver, kidney, skin, etc follow this model. We also know that therapeutics for blocking “don’t eat me” signals such as CD47 in cancers have high potential to treat these very common, but often incurable, other diseases.

Why have I explained this background in detail? This is a story, not the only story, of how a field can be opened and expanded and exploited for medical translation. It had no relevance to how most people get into their career—straight A’s, elite schools, privileged advancement, etc. It didn’t really fit the model of a boss directing employees daily on what to do and how—essentially treating trainees as imperfect ‘helpers’ whose own judgements needed daily oversight and correction. Giving them the chance to solve problems led many of them to have confidence needed for their own careers when they left the lab. These were hard lessons to learn. I learned those lessons early, and using that as a guide, have been lucky enough to attract extremely talented ‘B’ students, many of whom have developed fields and achieved leadership on their own, now mainly in stem cell fields. I learned to step back and be more ‘Socratic’ in my oversight of trainees rather than being directive. Often, I was surprised at weekly lab meetings with an incipient discovery by a trainee at any level that I realized could open an understanding, or even a field. Discoveries, not slavish adherence to my direction, was the result.

Our institute is mainly, if not exclusively, populated by creative, innovative, original, self-directed, and highly successful biomedical scientists and physician-scientists. The discoveries coming from them should provide the rationale behind stem cell discovery science and stem cell related translations long into the future. You would think, therefore, that the institute is safe. But it isn’t. I’ve seen over and over great immunology groups at other universities or institutes be decimated overnight. Immunology, although a discipline as powerful and important as genetics or biochemistry, has not been either a department or safe organizational unit in universities, while genetics and biochemistry, for example, are departments with over a century lifespan in the US at all universities. That is not true for immunology. New department heads (or deans) in schools with high level immunology groups have ended those programs as they change the departments’ directions. Hopefully, that won’t be true for stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.
We were established by Dean Philip Pizzo, who recognized that the inward focus of departments, with allegiance to their discipline, ran counter to the multidisciplinary nature of the emerging biomedical sciences. To break out of that inward focus, he established several institutes at Stanford. There was no history of stem cell science before the late 20th century. Very few of us were establishing that field. Ours was one of the first institutes at the Stanford School of Medicine. All appointments in institutes were initiated by institutes, and departments were added to search committees to make sure that was happening in institutes could inform and be enriched by departments. Institutes could cross the basic science/clinical medicine barrier, and so it could be natural to make discoveries, and to try to translate them for the benefit of patients. (It is another story how biotech and large pharmaceutical companies were not and are not the best early vehicles to cross the discovery to therapy ‘valley of death.’)

Luckily, at least for the present, the establishment and re-establishment of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, CIRM, as an important state agency that supports all aspects of California programs/centers/departments/institutes of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, funding eager future scientists in high school, college, post-college bridges, graduate and medical students, postdoctoral trainees, and faculties and institutions, as well as providing in academia incubation of translation of discoveries. But that too is impermanent and can change rapidly.

For the backers of the institute and the committee to choose the next director, it is critical that the next director be a stem cell discovery scientist. There are many who claim to be stem cell scientists, but most of the claims are just not true. That is why we have a Scientific Advisory Board made up of eight major stem cell discovery scientists to advise the director, the dean, and hopefully the search committee. The search will hopefully investigate whether potential candidates have trained next generation leaders of the field, or if the candidates have already been a chair or director, if the faculty he/she served had successful stem cell discovery and/or translation careers. Another critical trait will be the ability to explain their science in plain English to non-scientists, which will enable future donors or legislators or students to understand what the institute does, and how it might be able to achieve the translation of stem cell science.

I do want to end by saying that “I ain’t done yet.” There are areas of stem cell science and the evolution of stem cells that wake me up at night, and consume my thoughts even when fly-fishing. I hope to keep on this track until I can’t contribute to the field anymore. It has been an honor to help establish this field here, and for that I am grateful to all of you.
Irv Weissman
2021

DUES AND DON’TS

As we begin to emerge from the devastating effects of the pandemic and plan more face to face gatherings and events, the Great Falls Hebrew Association needs your financial assistance. Money (and love) make the world go round, and we would like you to share a little of yours with us so that we can build and sustain a strong and thriving Jewish community, and perpetuate the legacy left to us by those Jews who came before us and built an oasis of Judaism in a desert land.

Aitz Chaim is the only organized Jewish community in north-Central Montana. We would like to be able to engage a rabbi for services more than once or twice a year, and to organize events which celebrate and share our Jewish culture and heritage with each other and those around us. Without your financial support, none of this is possible. Your financial donation empowers us to continue to bring yiddishkeit to north-central Montana.

We can’t do much without consistent dues paying members, and more of them. The more we do and the more we plan to do, the more Jews will come to celebrate their life cycle events with us, and build and strengthen our community. We ask for annual membership commitments in the amount of $250 per individual and $500 per family. That’s less than $22.00 per month per individual or $42.00 per month per family. If you set up recurring automatic payments with your bank or financial institution, you will have one less thing to worry about, (just set it and forget it), and you probably won’t even miss those monthly withdrawals. Of course, any additional tax-deductible donation is always welcome and appreciated.

You can donate to us by sending your check to the following address:
Great Falls Hebrew Association
525 Central Avenue, Suite L8
Great Falls, MT 59401.

So, as we go forward, keep these things in mind.

  • Due pay your dues.
  • Don’t hesitate.
  • Due get involved.
  • Don’t be shy.
  • Due put on your thinking caps and help us plan events.
  • Don’t bee too tired or too busy.
  • Due put on your kippa and come to services.
  • Don’t let another day go by without celebrating your special heritage and passing it on to your children and grandchildren.
  • Due be constantly looking for ways to practice Tikkun Olam.
  • Don’t forget that one of the ways you can do this is to pay your dues.

It all makes a circle that starts and ends with you. We can’t do this without you. Thank you.

STEM CELL RESEARCHER IRVING WEISSMAN AWARDED ALBANY PRIZE

STEM CELL RESEARCHER IRVING WEISSMAN AWARDED ALBANY PRIZE

A KOSHER RESCUE MISSION

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, there are Jews, even in the desert of Montana, and perhaps they are here for just such a time as this.

The following was submitted by Nancy Oyer.

I thought this was great. Nice job, Congregation Beth Aaron (Donna Healy) and Bozeman Chabad (Chavie Bruk)!

Just in case anyone missed it – see below. The story made it to Tablet Magazine and the Times of Israel among many other news outlets. Here are three of the articles out there.

Nancy Oyer
Butte
406.490.8989
neogeo@montana.com

http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/195148/after-an-emergency-landing-in-montana-el-al-passengers-are-treated-to-a-kosher-feast

After an Emergency Landing in Montana, El Al Passengers Are Treated to a Kosher Feast
A rag-tag group of caring Jews came to the aid of about 300 stranded passengers on their way from Israel to Los Angeles
By Tess Cutler
November 16, 2015
It could be the premise of a hit sitcom: An El Al flight en route to Los Angeles is forced to make an emergency landing in Billings, Montana, and its passengers are stranded at the airport for 12 hours, waiting for the next aircraft to arrive from New Jersey. But here’s the kicker: There’s no kosher food at the terminal, or enough food to feed nearly 300 hungry passengers, many of whom are presumably Jewish. Well guess what? It happened over the weekend.
At 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, an El Al airplane experienced engine issues and was forced to touch down in Montana, a state which boasts a population of 1,350 Jews as of 2014. “You just don’t often get a planeload of Israelis in Billings,” local resident Donna Healy told The Billings Gazette. Healy, who is Jewish, sprung into action, supplying the stranded passengers with snacks and toiletries, such as diapers. “We thought we should do what we could to make them comfortable,” she said. “Kosher food is a part of that.” (Her congregation, Beth Aaron, paid for the goods.)
Rebbetzin Chavie Bruk of Chabad Montana in Bozeman also got word of the incident. So she packed her three children into her car and drove 150 miles (about a two-hour journey) to deliver a smorgasbord of cold cuts galore, hummus, eggplant, fruit and bagels. “It was a tremendous kiddush Hashem—amazing and inspiring!” gushed Israeli passenger Hillel Fuld about the impromptu kosher food delivery.
Apparently, El Al crew members also went on a Costco run, nabbing lifetime supplies of grapes, Cheerios, milk, and sacs upon sacs of what appears to be onions.
The famished passengers noshed on the delights, kibbitzed, and Facebooked to pass the time. In their 12 hour interim, they had a feast fit for kings and queens due to numerous supermarket sweeps.
The well-nourished, jet-lagged passengers eventually landed in Los Angeles at 4:45 pm.

LA-bound El Al plane makes emergency landing in Montana
http://www.timesofisrael.com/la-bound-el-al-plane-makes-emergency-landing-in-montana/
Fire breaks out in Boeing 777’s right engine; flight had nearly 300 passengers on board
By JTA November 16, 2015, 12:59 am
An El Al flight with nearly 300 people on board made an emergency landing in Billings, Montana.
Warning lights showed that there was a fire in the right engine, the Billings Gazette reported Sunday. The passengers had to exit using a landing ladder, according to the newspaper, as the Boeing 777 was too large to park at the terminal.
A spare plane was being sent from New Jersey to allow the passengers to finish their journey, which started in Tel Aviv.
With no US Customs agents stationed at the Billings airport, Customs officials were sent from Great Falls to handle the passengers, the Gazette reported.

A Kosher Rescue Mission for El Al Travelers Stuck in Montana
http://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/3130372/jewish/A-Kosher-Rescue-Mission-for-El-Al-Travelers-Stuck-in-Montana.htm

Hillel Fuld from Beit Shemesh, Israel, says that Chabad emissary Chavie Bruk “showed up and instantly put a smile on hundreds of faces.”

They were stuck in a Montana airport with no end in sight to their wait and no kosher food to eat. That’s what happened today to some 300 passengers on an El Al airlines flight Tel Aviv to Los Angeles. The Boeing 777 made an emergency landing in Billings, Mont., when a reported fire in one of the engines made it unsafe to continue.
Passengers disembarked the plane and were bused to a terminal, where they waited for another plane to take them to their final destination—Los Angeles International Airport. There they sat as the hours ticked away and the food supplies—in particular, the kosher food—dwindled.
Hillel Fuld of Beit Shemesh, Israel, says that somehow, Rabbi Chaim and Chavie Bruk—co-directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Montana in Bozeman—got news of the situation and set about immediately to offer assistance. With her three young children in tow, Chavie Bruk drove a car full of kosher food 150 miles to Billings Logan International Airport, where passengers had been waiting for nearly 10 hours.
“She showed up and instantly put a smile on hundreds of faces. She did it with utter grace and never stopped smiling for a second,” says Fuld, 37, who works in technology. “Based on the constant smile on her face, she is happier to be here than we are to have her here.
“It was a tremendous kiddush Hashem—amazing and inspiring!”
Fuld, who is traveling with his wife and 11-year-old son to Los Angeles, enjoyed kosher bagels, cold cuts, chips and cake. Heaps of hummus, fresh fruit and other goods were also available.
Rabbi Chaim Bruk recounts that the rabbi at El Al in Israel called him this morning and apprised him of the plane trouble. Bruk himself was on a flight to Minneapolis, but his wife snapped into action. She gathered as much ready-to-eat food as she could—they had just received a kosher shipment the night before—piled her children into the car and drove two hours to the airport.
“She was welcomed like a heroine,” says the rabbi.
Meanwhile, the group of tired (but not hungry) passengers remain in the airport two hours later—a half-day now—waiting for the next leg of their journey.

Chavie Bruk, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Montana in Bozeman with her husband, Rabbi Chaim Bruk, drove a car full of kosher food to Billings Logan International Airport for stranded passengers of an El Al flight to Los Angeles that had to make an emergency landing. (Photo: Hillel Fuld)

Hundreds of people enjoyed bagels, cold meats, hummus, fresh fruit, chips and more as they lingered in the terminal. (Photo: Hillel Fuld)

A welcome respite from a long and hungry wait. (Photo: Hillel Fuld)

Fuld, his wife and their 11-year-old son in Tel Aviv at the start of their trip. (Photo: Hillel Fuld)

Also picked up by the Times of Israel