Montana Jewish Project aims to acquire historic Helena synagogue building

Tyler Manning

The Montana Jewish Project achieved a major milestone Thursday in its mission to acquire a historic Helena synagogue that is now owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena. 

The synagogue, historically referred to as the Temple Emanu-El, is situated just across the street from the Cathedral of St. Helena, on Ewing Street, and has housed the Diocese of Helena since 1981. With the Diocese set to move its offices into a new space called the Center for Catholic Life in the Seeley Building downtown, leaders of the Montana Jewish Project saw an opportunity to return ownership of the synagogue to the Jewish community. 

The Diocese’s Bishop Austin Vetter met with MJP co-founder Rebecca Stanfel in the synagogue Thursday to sign a buy/sell agreement for the building. The agreement stipulates that the building will be sold to the MJP if the organization can raise enough money to purchase it by June 2022, though that deadline could be extended. 

While the agreed-upon sale price was not publicly disclosed, MJP’s current fundraising goal is $1.5 million. 

“People often ask me what the Jewish-Catholic relationship is like,” Vetter said. “This is what it should be. This is so exciting. To be able to

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