BUTTE - The contributions of Butte’s Irish and Finnish community are well known, but there’s another group that was prominent in the Mining City’s early years: the Jewish community.
“I don’t think people do realize all their contributions, but they had a large impact on our city,” said Aubrey Jaap with the Butte Public Archives.
In fact, Butte’s first mayor, Henry Jacobs, was Jewish. The Jacobs family home has been restored and still remains at Granite and Montana streets. Most of the businesses on Park Street were Jewish-owned in the early days, and some still remain today.
“A lot of people that were very active in our community and names that you recognize and may not just realize that they are Jewish,” said Jaap.
Butte had a very diverse population in its early days and was often more tolerant to marginalized communities.
“Butte, you know, is a melting pot so I think Butte has traditionally been pretty welcoming to people of all heritages,” said Jaap.
At one time the Jewish community in Butte was so large there were three temples for worship. Now we just have B’Nai Israel Temple on Galena Street and even through the Jewish community is small today, it’s still very faithful.
“They are still meeting, it is, although small, it’s still a community that’s deeply involved in their roots and their heritage,” said Jaap.
An exhibit on the history of Butte’s Jewish community will be on display at the Butte Archives beginning Friday.