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'Why We Celebrate': Religious leaders to discuss similarities in holiday celebrations at Butte event

"We’re trying to point out, basically, the commonalities of our different cultures and our different beliefs."
Butte Cultural Heritage Center
Posted at 1:28 PM, Jun 06, 2024

BUTTE — A rabbi, a minister, a priest and a pagan walk into a temple—sounds like the beginning of a joke, right?

But it’s actually happening on June 6 at the Butte Cultural Heritage Center and they are gathering for a community-building exercise based on a discussion about the similarities between the holidays that we celebrate.

"I think that in today’s world there are so many divisions, we’re seeing the rise of intolerance and racism, antisemitism across the world and it’s so important that we can demonstrate that we do in fact have more to share than whatever divides us," says Janet Cornish, one of the four panelists for the Holiday of Light and Renewal talk at the Butte Cultural Heritage Center.

Cornish represents the Butte Cultural Heritage Center which is housed in Montana’s first and only Jewish Synagogue built 120 years ago. She says the discussion is inspired by Butte’s own history as a melting pot.

"One of the things that we’re really proud of as a community is that we have this rich heritage that not only defines us but helps us perhaps be more welcoming of people from all different backgrounds," says Cornish.

The talk will focus on understanding the origins and customs associated with the holidays celebrated in December and early spring. Holidays like Hanukkah, Christmas, Easter, and Passover are observed by people across the world, but Cornish says we know little about the historic and cultural roots of these popular holidays.

The program panel of speakers will feature Father Patrick Beretta, Parish Priest, Butte Montana; Rabbi Sonja Pilz, Congregation Beth Shalom, Bozeman; Reverend Miriam Schultz, Pastor/Priest at All Saints, Big Sky; and Kate McCourt, archeologist and Butte Historic Preservation Officer.

"We’re trying to point out, basically, the commonalities of our different cultures and our different beliefs," says Kate McCourt.

McCourt studied pagan religious practices while working on her master's degree in England. She says much of our current religious practices stem from our early ancestors like the Celts.

"So all of these things are extremely translatable and easy to understand and interesting to people because it’s all based on gods, deities, you know? That’s basically like what’s made the world go round," says McCourt.

The talk begins at 6:30 p.m. at 327 West Galena Street and is free and open to the public. For more information, click here.