Montana Jewish Project hosts ceremonial signing at former Temple Emanu-El

Pictured from left, Julie Bir (a member of the Montana Jewish Project’s board of directors), Bishop Austin Vetter and Rebecca Stanfel (president of the Montana Jewish Project’s board) stand outside Helena’s Temple Emanu-El.

Megan Michelotti

Nothing says happy birthday quite like accomplishing a goal a year and a half in the making.

“I bought a synagogue on my birthday,” stated Rebecca Stanfel, president of the board for the nonprofit Montana Jewish Project (MJP).

On Aug. 26, a crowd of around 75 people gathered in front of what is historically known as Helena’s Temple Emanu-El for a ceremonial signing celebrating MJP buying back the temple for Jewish use the day before, on Aug. 25.

“I haven’t heard of any other Jewish community buying back a synagogue from the Catholic Church, but that did not stop Bishop Vetter,” said Stanfel.

The signing opened with a prayer by Roman Catholic Bishop Austin Vetter and a Hebrew blessing by Julie Bir, a board member of MJP.

“I will be saying the Jewish prayer ‘Shehecheyanu’ which we say in times of special occasion, holidays, gathering together for the first

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