Montana Treasure: Har Shalom

It's a light that represents hope; hope in the darkness. And this is the time of  year that the light shines out with pride, as the Missoula Jewish Community Har Shalom celebrates the first night of Hanukkah.

For spiritual leader and rabbinic intern Laurie Franklin, it's the time of the year where her congregation gets to celebrate with an entire community. Out in the open with their large menorah, they are not hard to miss.

"It's a blessing that we get to rub shoulders with one another, get to see what we share, see what we have in common, and there is a lot, and also appreciate the differences, and not gloss over them. Just say they are there too. So to me, that is one of the real Treasures to have the opportunity to work in Jewish community " Franklin says.

Har Shalom has been part of the Missoula community since 2007. But the city has had an active Jewish population for more than six decades. For Har Shalom member Bert Chessin, it's a place where people of all ages and background can come together.

"What I like about it is, it gives any one who wants to do anything Jewish, has an opportunity. You are not going to get a fight from anyone. If you have an idea, if you want to experience something, you are going to have the opportunity to do it here." says Chessin.

 As this year has shown around the world and around the country, the Jewish faith is still under attack. In October, a gunman killed 11 members of a Pittsburgh synagogue. And in the face of those attacks, Har Shalom has grown a deeper appreciation of their role in the welcoming fabric of Missoula.

"We are proud of what we have, and what we have accomplished. And we are also very thankful for the support of not only from our members, but the people of Missoula to getting us to this place." Chessin says.

"We have been really embraced. That this community is a very open community, very supportive, very loving, in real ways. In person to person, not just in words,” says Franklin.

In this season of sharing, forgiveness, and most of all, hope, the members of Har Shalom light their menorah without judgement, and in celebration of their faith. 

"It's a beautiful shared story, and so, it's really lovely to share Hanukkah light with our non-Jewish friends" says Franklin with a smile.

Har Shalom, a Montana Treasure.

To find out more information about Har Shalom and their Hanakkah services, you can visit their website,  http://www.har-shalom.org/ 

KTMF/SWX Sports Anchor/Reporter

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