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Who We Are

Glacier Jewish Community/B’nai Shalom

Vision & Values:

In the heart of Northwest Montana we seek to create a sacred community (a kehillah kedoshah) that unites the Jewish Community of the Flathead Valley. The core pillars of every Jewish community are Torah, Avodah and Gemilut Hasadim—Study, Prayer & Acts of Lovingkindness. Our community gathers to celebrate Jewish life and Jewish holidays, to pray and sing, to study and grow as learning Jews and to take care of those around us who are in need.

The Jewish Community of Flathead Valley is a diverse community in many ways. We live throughout the Valley with higher concentrations in Whitefish and Bigfork. We come from various religious traditions—traditional Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Jews-by-Choice. We have multiple affiliations with Jewish and non-Jewish nonprofits, local and international in scope. We live here year-round and send our children to the local schools; and we live here part-time and enjoy the gifts of Montana living as much as we can.

What unites the Jewish community of Northwest Montana is our desire to maintain a connection to our Jewish roots and participate in a vibrant Jewish community celebrating Jewish rituals and Jewish life together. We want to be a part of a Jewish community that is welcoming and egalitarian, joyful and inspiring. We want to laugh together, break bread together and learn more about our shared tradition of Judaism. We seek to make at least one touchpoint a year with Jews of every age and stage in the Flathead Valley—toddlers and teens, empty nesters and seniors, families and singles. We are committed to Jewish continuity by continuing to build our community and educate the next generation of young Jews.

Because our community is composed of members representing many Jewish denominations and traditions, we are an independent congregation. We are not formally affiliated with any Jewish denomination. We take pride in our Jewish identity and see our location in northwest Montana as a special way to live a meaningful Jewish life in area blessed with an abundance of nature’s beauty.

Affiliation & Activity:

The Jewish Community of Flathead Valley is open to all Jewish people and their families. The core organizing concept of our community is “welcoming engagement”. We will do all that we can to make sure that affiliation and activity within our community has no barriers.

We aspire to engage every member of the Jewish community in a meaningful experience of Jewish life and celebration throughout the year. Because of the meaningful relationships that are created through our Jewish community’s activity, we hope that participants will not only make a financial commitment but will share their time and talents with the Jewish community to help it flourish.

We are a community that is growing and diverse. We look to engage as many Jews and their families as possible by providing many different ways of becoming involved. We are committed to engaging the community on a monthly basis for Shabbat and Jewish holidays. While religious observance and holidays are the priority for many, for others it is meaningful acts of mitzvoth, social action and Jewish learning. We also promote the activity of Jewish organizations that seek to engage our community in social or educational activity.

We are a synagogue without walls. We meet wherever Jews can get together. Many of our services and events are potluck and take place in people’s homes throughout the Flathead Valley. We use Kalispell as our central meeting place for major Jewish holidays and try to vary the locations of home gatherings between Bigfork and Whitefish.

Ideally our community will engage a spiritual leader to guide us in Jewish prayer and ritual, study and social action. Every two years we will form a Leadership Team of 7 members that will serve as the administrative and financial overseers of the community. The Leadership Team will seek to continually engage the membership in partnership to organize community events and engage participants in Jewish life. The Leadership Team will be committed to regular communication with the community about calendar and community functions.

Financial Sustainability:

The Jewish Community of Flathead Valley is open to all Jewish people and their families. There are no mandatory membership dues because we want to reinforce our belief that we are all united as a Jewish community and do not want any barriers to participation.

However, in order to sustain ourselves financially, we ask all those involved to make voluntary contributions commensurate with financial means.

Some events will have fees when we are providing meals and security. Nevertheless, even with these events, we refuse to allow finances to be a barrier and we encourage people to pay what they are able to afford.

We are also committed to financial transparency so that we all know where our contributions are going and how they are helping sustain our community.

  • We do not charge for the High Holy Day services because we do not want to create a “pay-to-pray” model of community.
  • Our founding philosophy made all donations voluntary – with no mandatory membership dues.
  • We want to create a community in which every contribution is valued and every person contributes time and money in a way that is meaningful.
  • We are committed to transparency and want you to know that we are working on a $ 32,700 budget for 2015/16 that requires fundraising of about $24,000 to support our activities and rabbinic leadership.
  • To date we have raised $24,000 and our goal is to raise at least an additional $6,000 over the next few months to secure our social, educational and religious programs for the Jewish year of 5776, 2015-2016.