HELENA — Several weeks ago, Pastor Wei and church members of Plymouth Congregational Church raised more than $1,700 for the Montana Jewish Project (MJP).
MJP is in the process of buying back the former Temple Emanu-El that was until recently used as offices for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena. As they work to raise funds themselves, varying religious communities and other groups throughout the area are pitching in to support the cause.
The Plymouth Congregational Church decided to try and raise donations for the MJP with a goal of $800 over the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
To represent the donations, the church planned to add a candle to the Menorah for every $100 raised. But the church made quick work of the goal and had the $800 within one day. So, they got another candelabra and kept the fundraiser going through the end of Hannukah, eventually garnering over $1,700.
“It's so important that religious communities show that we can work together and that we're supporting each other. There's so much strife and division in our country right now and, you know, we have to set the example of what it means to be a neighbor and to be a part of community,” says Charles Wei, pastor at Plymouth Congregational.
At the time, Rebecca Stanfel, President of the Board of Directors of the Montana Jewish Project, had no clue this was even happening.
In fact, many different members and organizations of the Helena community have banded together and are clearly behind THE MJP’s mission of creating a statewide Jewish community center.
Businesses like the Montana Book Company, Random Macs of Kindness, Headwaters Crafthouse, and Gulch Distillers have all recently either held fundraisers and/or made donations aimed at supporting the Montana Jewish Project. They’ve also received various donations from private citizens including a recent donation of $100,000.
“It's hard to put into words exactly how excited we are, how heartened we are to have this outpouring of community support from different religious communities, from different Helena businesses, and from individuals who are not Jewish from around the state. It's been overwhelming,” says Stanfel.
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