Montana Hanukkah

hanukkahThe annual Hanukkah celebration in Montana’s capitol building has been going on for five years now and gathers together members of Jewish communities from across the state, community members, the lieutenant governor, and rabbis for a celebration including the lighting of menorahs, prayers, blessings, speeches, the consumption of latkes, and the playing of the dreidel (which, incidentally, is not a word recognized by spell check). There are only a handful of Jewish congregations in the state, and a semi-reliable source (Wikipedia) put Montana’s 2008 Jewish population at as low as 1,000. This wasn’t always the case. At one time, other Montana cities, like Helena, boasted Jewish congregations. During the boom years, three different congregations called Butte home. Now, just one congregation, B’nai Israel, remains in Butte. With a building built in 1903, the congregation with some 30 members is the state’s oldest. Congregations in other parts of the state are flourishing. Bozeman, for example, now has 3 congregations of its own. The capitol’s annual Hanukkah celebrations starts at noon today in the rotunda, and everyone is invited.

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