‘I celebrate them’: Helena community joins in observing Jewish holiday

Phil Drake

Nearly 150 people joined in celebrating Hanukkah Sunday at Temple Emanu-el in Helena.

Gary Marshall, BMGphotos.com

Bobby Lavinder sat in a chair Sunday off to the side of a table where people were playing dreidel, and she was grinning ear to ear.

Years earlier, Lavinder, who is now 83, volunteered for the Catholic church in the very same building.

But on this Sunday evening, Lavinder returned to 515 N. Ewing St. to be among about 150 people celebrating the first menorah lighting and Hanukkah celebration in Temple Emanu-el since 1934, put on by the Montana Jewish Project.

“I celebrate them,” she said.

The event included the lighting of the Hanukkah candles, and treated guests to a large selection of food, including latkes. And the upstairs board room, where the candles were lit, was pretty much elbow to elbow.

“This is amazing,” said Julie Bir, a Montana Jewish Project board member, who helped host the menorah lighting and Hanukkah celebration. “This is incredible support from the community. I am touched and honored people are here.”

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