What Is MAJCo?
The Montana Association of Jewish Communities (MAJCo) is an umbrella organization that includes representation from Jewish communities across the length and breadth of the great state of Montana. Membership in MAJCo is open to any Jewish community, whatever the “stream,” within Montana.
(Acceptance by the current communities is required.)
Small Jewish communities in rural areas do not exist in a vacuum. Almost three decades ago, the Jewish communities throughout the state created MAJCo, an association of all the organized Montana Jewish
communities. Through MAJCo, we keep in touch and have created a community throughout this great big beautiful state.
The Jewish communities in the Big Sky currently include:
- Congregation Beth Aaron, Billings
- Chabad Lubavitch of Montana, Bozeman
- Congregation Beth Shalom, Bozeman
- Congregation B’nai Israel, Butte
- Congregation Aitz Chaim, Great Falls
- Helena Jewish Community, Helena
- Glacier Jewish Community/B’nai Shalom, Kalispell-Whitefish
- Chabad Lubavitch of Missoula, Missoula
- Congregation Har Shalom, Missoula
Anyone wishing to be on the MAJCo email list may contact Brian Schnitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
begins at sunset on Saturday December 24, 2016, and continues through nightfall on Sunday January 1, 2017. The first candle is lit the night of 12/24. The last candle is lit the night of 12/31.
JewFAQ: Answering Jewish Frequently Asked Questions for more than two decades!
In Hebrew Hanukah means “dedication.” In the years prior to 164 BCE, the Seleucid Empire (Syrian-Greeks) took over the Temple in Jerusalem, defiling it with pagan worship. When the Maccabees recaptured the Temple in 164 BCE , they ritually cleansed and rededicated it for Jewish worship once again. To mark this triumph, Hannukah was established as an 8-day national holiday, beginning on the 25th day of Kislev. The word Hannukah is also related to the Hebrew word for “education.” It is transliterated in many ways, including Hanukkah, Chanukkah, Hannukah and Channukah.
A 7-branched candelabrum, literally: “lamp”. The Torah gives specific instructions for how the Menorah was to be made and tended, and its light was to come from the purest olive oil. It is the oldest surviving symbol of Judaism. The golden Menorah that was made in the Desert stood inside the ancient Temple in Jerusalem . After the Maccabean victory, the Menorah was rekindled and rededicated. After the Second Temple’s destruction, and the seizure of the golden Menorah by the Romans in 70 CE, the menorah became a symbol of Jewish survival and continuity. The State of Israel has it as its emblem, and today it is a symbol often found in Jewish art and synagogue décor around the world.
This is a special kind of menorah used only during Hannukah, with branches or spaces for 9 candles -one for each of the 8 nights plus one for the “shammash” (see below). Hanuki’yot (plural) can be found today in a wide variety of designs, shapes, colors & materials. Traditionally, there are eight individual places for candles or flames all on the same level, far enough apart so as not to merge into a single flame. Jewish law stipulates that the 8 candles are not to be used for any practical purposes. They are not meant to be a light source for us to work by, but rather they are to be enjoyed for their beauty and as a reminder of the Hannukah miracles. The flames must last at least 30 minutes. While olive oil and wicks were used for centuries, today candles are typically used, though many Jews use oil and wicks to honor past traditions.
A “service” or utilitarian candle, called the “shammash,” is used to light the other candles on each of the 8 nights of Hannukah. It is lit first, then the brachot (blessings) are said or chanted, and then it’s used to light each of the other candles. The space for the shammash candle is set apart, above or below the other flames, to distinguish its status.
In 167 BCE, after the Seleucid king Antiochus issued decrees in Judea forbidding Jewish religious practice, a rural Jewish priest from Modi’in – Mattithias the Hasmonean – sparked the revolt against the Seleucid Empire by refusing to worship the Greek Gods. His son Judah, along with Judah’s 4 brothers, led an army of Jewish dissidents using guerrilla tactics to defeat the Seleucids in a military victory of the few over the many. Judah’s famous nickname was “Maccabee,” which means “hammer,” likely a reference to his military prowess. It may also be an acronym for the Torah verse attributed to Mattithias at the beginning of the revolt: “Mi Hamokha Ba’elim Adonai?” “Who is like You, Eternal, among the mighty? (lit: other gods)”
Dreidel (Yiddish) / Se’vivon (Hebrew)
A 4-sided spinning top. Both terms are related to the word “spin”. The dreidel or sevivon has a letter on each of its 4 sides: Nuhn, Gimmel, Hay, Sheen. These letters stand for “Nes Gadol Hayah Shahm” – A great miracle occurred there. This is a reference to the Talmudic legend describing the miracle of consecrated oil burning for 8 days when there was only enough to last for one. In Israel the sevivon has a different 4th letter, Peh, corresponding to the phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah POH” – A great miracle occurred HERE! The dreidel is used in low-stakes gambling games during Hannukah, involving pennies, M & M’s, nuts or raisins as tokens. It’s traditional to play for at least as long as the Hannukah flames are burning.
Latke (Yiddish) / Le’vivah (Hebrew)
The Ashkenazic (Eastern European) holiday treat is a savory potato pancake fried in oil. It is traditionally served with sour cream and/or apple sauce. Some people prefer them plump and golden, others insist that the thin, crispy variety is superior. In addition, we have the Sephardic (Spanish) treat: Sufganiot, donuts fried in oil with sweet fillings. These are especially popular today in Israel.
Yiddish for “gold “or “money.” Traditionally small coins were given to kids by grandparents or other relatives, as a token gift or to use while playing dreidel. Today, candy companies make a foil-covered chocolate version.
An important note here is that Hannukah is a minor holiday, and not a main gift-giving occasion. The Jewish festivals of Rosh HaShanah and Purim were the traditional times for gifts.
Hug Ureem Sa’me’ah – A Joyous Festival of Lights!
The traditional greeting/blessing we say to each other during Hannukah.
I find this concept to be an important issue in American society. I hope you read it and enjoy it.
Submitted by Elliott Magalnick
Please mark your calendars to remind you of these upcoming events.
- Wednesday, 11/27/2013—Thursday, 12/05/2013: Chanukkah.
- Wednesday evening, 11/27/2013, 5:30 P.M.: Erev Chanukah. Lighting the first candle of the Diane Kaplan Memorial Chanukkiah at the Civic Center. If you come at 5:30.30, you’ll probably miss it, especially if it is cold. We will light each successive candle on each successive night of Chanukah at precisely 5:30 P.M.
- Thursday, 11/28/2013: Thanksgiving, and the first day of Chanukah. We will light the second candle at precisely 5:30 P.M.
- Sunday, 12/01/2013, 2:30 P.M.: Thanksgivukkah party at the home of Stuart and Hilary Lewin, concluding with the 5:30 lighting of the fifth candle of the Diane Kaplan Memorial Channukiah at the Civic Center.
- Monday, 12/02/2013, 12:00 noon: MAJCO Candle lighting at the State Capitol in Helena.
Can you believe it has been over 2 years since Sarah’s bat mitzvah? Max’s bar mitzvah is just around the corner – December 28th, 2013. You should have received your invitation in the mail by now. If not, please call or e-mail Wendy (email@example.com or 727-4098). We will need to know what events you are coming to so that we can give counts to the caterers.
As his community service project, Max will be collecting canned food and making baskets out of them to use as table decorations at the luncheon for his bar mitzvah. After the lunch, the baskets will be donated to the East Middle School food pantry.
We are asking, if you are able and willing, to donate food and/or baskets, bows, ribbon and wrapping. We also will need help assembling the baskets. Assembly will be at the Washington School at 4 PM on Monday, December 23rd. Please call or e-mail Wendy (firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-4098) to donate items or to help. We will be serving pizza during the assembly of the baskets so please let me know if you are coming so that we have enough food.
We look forward to seeing you all at the bar mitzvah!
In the meantime, Happy Hanukkah!
How can we recognize the blessings in our lives, even in the most difficult times? Learn with Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff how Abraham and other figures in the Book of Genesis help us recognize and value our blessings despite any challenges we face.
Date/Time: Tuesday, December 3, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Register for the webinar at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/932604136
Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff, past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and of ARZA, is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Emanu-El, Westfield, New Jersey. He is vice-president for special projects at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and author of When Elijah Knocks, A Religious Response to Homelessness, (Behrman House) and Reform Judaism, A Jewish Way of Life, (Ktav).
Chancellor Eisen in Haaretz on the New Pew Report: “Reengaging American Jews – Before They Drift Away”
From: Jewish Theological Seminary
Dear JTS Community,
The most recent report on American Jews from the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project makes it crystal clear: this is no longer our grandparents’ Jewish community—nor, for that matter, that of our parents.
The statistics say that, in the last 10 years, interest in Jewish religion has continued to decline and the number of intermarriages has increased—how should we respond to this information? What do these changes mean to Jewish life as a whole? And what is Judaism anyway? A religion? A people? A culture?
I reflect on these questions and more in my newest article for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, “Reengaging American Jews–Before They Drift Away”
which can be accessed in its entirety on my blog, On My Mind: Arnie Eisen.
If you have some thoughts on the new Pew report, or want to share how you would engage or reengage Jews, I encourage you to share your comments online at On My Mind: Arnie Eisen.
Arnold M. Eisen
The Jewish Theological Seminary
P.S. You can also follow me on Twitter @ArnoldEisen
(twitter.com/ArnoldEisen) or read my blog at