Montana Jewish Project Board
Rebecca Stanfel has lived in Helena with her husband, Jay Weiner, since 1998. Learning about Helena's historic Jewish community--and being welcomed by its present-day one-- played a significant role in her conversion to Judaism. Her son, Andrew, had his bar mitzvah at the Montana Club in Helena, and is now a senior at Helena High. Rebecca is a writer. Her work has appeared recently in the Washington Post, Huffpost, High Country News, and Tablet. In the past, she worked in public relations and fundraising. After spending many hours over the years looking at the majestic former Temple Emanu-El from the outside and imagining what could happen if the building ever returned to Jewish use, she is thrilled to be working to make this dream a reality.
Mimi Wolok is in the midst of carrying out her life and career goals. In 2019, she moved to Montana to buy large swaths of land for conservation with the nation’s 9th largest land trust – the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Working with multiple funding partners, Mimi has closed over 55,000 acres of land and conservation easements.
Joining Audubon of the Western Everglades in January 2018 as its first executive director, Mimi supervised staff and succeeded in finding and cultivating major donors and sponsors, and in increasing the Audubon chapter’s impact, visibility and leadership. Mimi was excited to return to the conservation field in 2018 after 17 years as a civil litigation, real estate and corporate attorney with her own practice. Mimi has held various leadership positions, including as a Trustee of the CREW Land & Water Trust. She writes, guides and gives talks about a range of conservation biology and policy issues. Over the years, Mimi has used both a degree in wildlife ecology from the University of Florida and a law degree from University of New Mexico with a specialization in natural resources law. This includes staff attorney positions with the Center for Wildlife Law in Albuquerque and Conservancy of SW Florida in Naples.
Mimi believes that the Jewish Community in Helena and Montana must seize this one chance to reclaim the historic synagogue, so that we may create an immersive Jewish experience for the first time since 1935.
My name is Wendy Weissman, CPA and I am the treasurer of the Montana Jewish Project. I started a CPA practice in 2002 and currently have 3 employees. I specialize in small for-profit and non-profit businesses and have served and continue to serve on many non-profit boards. I am donating my time and skills to this particular organization because I believe in Jews having a place to call home. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland where I took for granted the fact that there was a synagogue I could always go to for prayer, socializing, celebrating, etc. When I moved to Great Falls, Montana (where I currently reside) being a Jew and celebrating our Jewish culture meant organizing events ourselves because there was just no one else to do it.
Even today, the Jews of Great Falls rent space at a church and can use it whenever we want, but it does not feel like a home to us. I know that a central place for Jews (and other organizations) would benefit the entire state of Montana by having a place to meet for worship, celebrations, and share our heritage with others who also lack a place to call home. I am excited to be helping out on this project. Helena is not only the capital but fairly central to much of the state. I look forward to Jews from all over Montana having a place to gather, share experiences and feel welcome.
Julie Bir has lived in Helena, MT since 2019. She holds a Master of Social Work and Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, which for her means she loves learning about how people and communities connect around religion and spirituality. Her background also includes volunteer coordination, data analysis, and community outreach and coalition building. When not at work or helping with the Montana Jewish Project, she loves baking, art, reading, and watching Star Trek with her partner.
Donna Breitbart is a Board Member of the Montana Jewish Project (MJP). She has been working in marketing and communication for over a decade in various industries, including education, nonprofit, hospitality, and higher education. She lived in Israel for a year while pursuing her M.S. in Management and holds a B.A. in Communication. She is thrilled to be working with the Montana Jewish Project to bring the vision of Montana’s first Jewish cultural and community center to life.
Evan Jones is a board member of the Montana Jewish Project. He works as a data analyst for a local news app and has previous work in non-profit technology onboarding. He has worked in the information technology sector for 8 years in various sectors.