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chai.

This is going to be a quick post, as other people have written about this far more eloquently than I can, so this is just a link roundup that I hope to keep updated.

A plaque with text: First Jewish house of worship in New Mexico Territory, moved to this site 1922. Temple Montefiore 1884
Temple Montefiore plaque, photo courtesy of Jim Terr and The Las Vegas Jewish Community, Inc

The Jewish community in Las Vegas, NM, has an opportunity to buy back their historic synagogue building. The fundraiser to do so is located here. Until yesterday, I didn’t even know that there was a Jewish community in that part of New Mexico, much less that the synagogue was the first synagogue constructed west of the Mississippi. Temple Montefiore was originally dedicated in 1886. But I have lived in New Mexico in the past, and the state is dear to my heart.

My friend Aji found this article in the Santa Fe New Mexican and took to Twitter with a thread about the fundraiser. She also wrote this beautiful article on Daily Kos.

There is also an article here in the Albuquerque Journal.

The building is currently owned by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. The community has been trying to buy the building back for some time now and has in the past been refused. This time they were notified, but the deadline in order to raise the funds is short— September 16, in ten days from today.

Yesterday when we found the fundraiser it was sitting at somewhere just over $11,000. By the end of the night, through a rallying effort of the Jewish community on Twitter and a lot of sharing, it had reached $50,000. As I’m writing this it is just over $59,000.

I hope that the members of the Jewish community in Las Vegas, NM have seen the outpouring of support that it has received and know that the rest of us are cheering them on. No one but a Jewish community should own a synagogue building. And I hope that the wider Jewish community has seen the outpouring of allyship and solidarity and remembers that it isn’t just us against the world.

Lastly, one might notice that many of the gifts to the fundraiser are in multiples of 18. That is because 18 is the numerical value of the Hebrew word for life, chai, and it is customary in Jewish culture to give monetary gifts in increments of 18. So if you can, I hope you will please go consider helping save this beautiful, historic synagogue so that so much life may be celebrated in it in the future. Again, the fundraiser is located here.

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here we go.