BUTTE – A historic synagogue in Butte is now a place that’s going to tell the stories of all ethnic groups in Butte.
“There are very few members of our community in Butte left of the Jewish community left, really just a handful and we’d really like to see the building continue to not only honor its Jewish history but all of the different cultures in Butte,” said B’nai Israel Temple member Janet Cornish
The B’nai Israel Temple in Butte is being converted in a Cultural Center to recognize the Jewish community and Butte’s other ethnic groups that helped build the Mining City.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to see one of Butte’s religious structures and also look at the exhibits here and learn a little bit more about our community,” said Aubrey Jaap of the Butte Public Archives.
This is the home of Henry Jacobs. He was a Jewish immigrant from Germany who became Butte’s first mayor, and he built the home on the corner of Montana and Granite streets in 1879, making this one of the oldest, still-standing homes in the Mining City.
“Many of the businesses on Park Street were owned by Jewish families and that lasted well into recent years. The Jewish people in Butte were always very active in the community,” said Cornish.
Butte’s Jewish community was once large enough to support three synagogues. The B’nai Israel remains the only temple in Butte and at 118 years old is the longest continuously operated Jewish house of worship in the state.
“To have this building’s legacy preserved and to serve the people of Butte and the region and the country in a different way makes the bitter part of the bitter/sweat a little less sad,” said Cornish.
People can get a free tour of the building Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. until the end of July.