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Montana’s Jewish history

Montana’s Jewish history

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The first Jewish immigrants arrived in Montana at Alder Gulch, near Virginia City, following the gold rush. They later moved to Helena, where the state’s first organized Jewish community was formed. Once the last Chance Gulch Strike had played out, Jewish residents moved to Butte, Montana’s next, big boomtown.

By 1881, the Jewish citizens of Butte became formerly organized and supported three Jewish congregations: Reform, Conservative and Orthodox.

In 1897, construction of the B’nai Israel synagogue began on the corner of Washington and Galena, and the building was officially dedicated in 1903. In 1902, the orthodox community converted the German Lutheran Church into the Adath Israel Congregation Synagogue. The Adath Israel and the B’nai Israel congregations were unified in Butte in the 1960s. Today, there are active Jewish communities in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula.

Information adapted from the following Web sites: The Montana Historical Society at www.his.state.

mt.us/research/library/exhibits/bnai.html and The Montana Association of Jewish Communities at http://mt002.

urj.net/majco.htm.

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