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December 5, 2009

And then a rabbi went to the capitol....

Posted: 06:32 PM ET

via NYTimes.com
By Eric Stern

HELENA, Mont. — In Montana, a rabbi is an unusual sight. So when a Hasidic one walked into the State Capitol last December, with his long beard, black hat and long black coat, a police officer grabbed his bomb-sniffing German shepherd and went to ask the exotic visitor a few questions.Though there are few Jews in Montana today, there once were many. In the late 19th century, there were thriving Jewish populations in the mining towns, where Jews emigrated to work as butchers, clothiers, jewelers, tailors and the like.

The city of Butte had kosher markets, a Jewish mayor, a B’nai B’rith lodge and three synagogues. Helena, the capital city, had Temple Emanu-El, built in 1891 with a seating capacity of 500. The elegant original facade still stands, but the building was sold and converted to offices in the 1930s, when the congregation had dwindled to almost nothing, the Jewish population having mostly assimilated or moved on to bigger cities.

There is a Jewish cemetery in Helena, too, with tombstones dating to 1866. But more Jews are buried in Helena than currently live here.

And yet, in a minor revival, Montana now has three rabbis, two in Bozeman and one (appropriately) in Whitefish. They were all at the Capitol on the first night of Hannukah last year to light a menorah in the ornate Capitol rotunda, amid 100-year-old murals depicting Sacajawea meeting Lewis and Clark, the Indians beating Custer, and the railway being built. The security officer and the dog followed the rabbi into the rotunda, to size him up.

Hanukkah has a special significance in Montana these days. In Billings in 1993, vandals broke windows in homes that were displaying menorahs. In a response organized by local church leaders, more than 10,000 of the city’s residents and shopkeepers put make-shift menorahs in their own windows, to protect the city’s three dozen or so Jewish families. The vandalism stopped.

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Filed under: Religion


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A. Smith, Oregon   December 6th, 2009 1:33 am ET

Greetings Larry, I love your show.

Its very sad that government and private organizations and individuals key on anyone wearing religious garb specifically because of the horrific violence committed by Muslims that are faithfully following their dutys and obligations as Muslims.

In the Northwest, many 18 wheeler truck drivers are Indian Sikhs who wear white, red and blue turbans. Many intolerant motorists see someone wearing a turban and go postal in their attempts to wreck the 18 wheeler. Sadly, Sikhs are certainly not Muslims but they are often targeted by non-muslims solely because of their wearing a turban.

In Sikhism everyone has equal rights irrespective of caste, creed, color, race, sex or religion. Sikhism rejects pilgrimage, fasting, superstitions and other such rituals. Sikhism does not have a clergy class as it considers this as a gateway to corruption. In short Sikhism directly rejects the Muslim beliefs and their corrupt Ayatollahs, Clerics, Mullahs and Immans.

Although it is historically well documented, I never did understand Christian leaders and their zealots bashing and trashing the Jewish people and Jewish religion which is the very foundation and tree which Christianity supposedly grew from.


shirley chambers   December 6th, 2009 12:05 pm ET

I think tigers wife need to tell the press to go to hell and stand by her man, after all she is the wife not the slut. these women put their self out there for recognition with this celebrity.tiger is just a man same as all men. this is a personal problem between him and his wife not the public and the press. i am sure it might be some of you doing the same thing just hasn't got caught. his wife need to talk to Hillary Clinton for a little advice.I can give her some but i am not a big wheel.


shirley chambers   December 6th, 2009 12:12 pm ET

I would like to know why every time you people on certain TV shows are talking about the presidents, everyone are addressed as president somebody except president Obama? he is always Barack Obama.
why don't they address him as President Obama. and i think Mrs Obama need to stay out of the media so much.go talk to Mrs Clinton and take a few lessons from her.


mattie   December 6th, 2009 11:41 pm ET

shirley, you do not need to be a big person to give advice, we were all born in this world to help one another..I really cannot give asdvice..I just feel badly RE a 4th woman has come forth,,did tiger change after his dad passed ?...


Barbara Hock   December 7th, 2009 8:29 pm ET

You often have preachers and other Christian religious leaders on your show but how come you, of Jewish heritage, never interview a rabbi like Shmueli Boteach? He has written best sellers, has had his own tv show and has advised celebrities like Michael Jackson.


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