Rabbis visit Montana to thank local authorities for support


A delegation of Orthodox rabbis from the U.S. and Canada thanked Montana officials for their support of the Jewish community during a meeting at the state’s capitol.

The rabbis presented Montana Gov. Steve Bullock with a copy of the Five Books of Moses, called a Chumash, and thanked him for defending the state’s Jewish residents. They did the same for Republican State House Speaker Austin Knudsen, Democratic State Rep. Dave Fern and Republican State Sen. Keith Regier.

The meeting Wednesday in Helena comes in the wake of the postponement of a neo-Nazi armed march designed to harass the Montana Jewish community of Whitefish that had been scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Montana lawmakers and faith leaders have issued statements in support of the Whitefish Jewish community.

The visiting rabbis, led by Rabbi Chaim Bruk of Chabad-Lubavitch of Montana in Bozeman, included Shmuel Herzfeld, rabbi at the Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue in Washington, and Adam Scheier, of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal.

Rabbis from Sacramento, Calif., San Antonio, Texas, and Missoula also made the trip to Helena and Whitefish, according to KTVH in Helena.

Andrew Anglin, who runs the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, announced last week that he would not hold the march as scheduled because he had not yet obtained a special event permit from the city of Whitefish. He said on his website that he is now planning to hold the march in February, when it “will be bigger and have more guns and special guests than we originally planned.”

Anglin had said that nationalist groups from the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Greece would attend the march. He also confirmed that “a representative of Hamas will be in attendance, and will give a speech about the international threat of the Jews.”

He also said his attorney believes he has a federal lawsuit against the city because it required him to get permission for the march from every business on the route, something the lawyer says violates the marchers’ constitutional rights.

The Daily Stormer published a blog post last month calling for followers to “take action” against Jews in Whitefish by writing and calling them with anti-Semitic messages. The post claimed that Jewish residents were “threatening” the local business run by the mother of Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank.

The rabbis said they planned to send copies of Five Books of Moses to the approximately 1,500 Jewish families living in Montana, and that they were raising money to send four non-Jewish high school students from Whitefish to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland, the site of the notorious Nazi death camp, and that the students would then travel throughout the state to talk to other students about the Holocaust, according to the Associated Press.

Following their meetings in the capitol, the rabbis were scheduled to travel to meet the non-Orthodox rabbis serving the beleaguered town of Whitefish.

There are about 100 known Jewish households in Whitefish and nearby Kalispell, part of the Flathead Valley.

Whitefish has a population of about 6,000 full-time residents and is home to a ski resort on Big Mountain called Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Whitefish, Montana, rally held in solidarity with Jewish community


A rally was held in Whitefish, Montana, to show solidarity with the Jewish community, which has been targeted by a neo-Nazi website.

The rally Saturday was sponsored by the Love Not Hate organization, which the Daily Stormer has accused of threatening white supremacist leader Richard Spencer’s mother, who lives in the town along with him.

Several hundred people reportedly turned out for the rally — billed as a block party — in sub-zero degree weather, according to Montana Public Radio. The rally included speeches from city and faith leaders, local singers and storytellers, according to the report.

“This is indeed a community where the voices that speak love and acceptance are so many more numerous than those that speak for hate and division,” Jessica Loti Leferrier, a Love Not Hate rally organizer, told Montana Public Radio.

The neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, said last week that it had filed the paperwork for an armed neo-Nazi march designed to harass the Montana Jewish community of Whitefish.

The march was moved to Monday, Jan. 16, which is Martin Luther King Day this year. The march had originally been set for the day before.

Andrew Anglin, who runs the Daily Stormer website, posted a photo Thursday of the filed application. The Whitefish City Clerk’s Office told the Forward that it had not received an application, and that what was on the website appeared to be incomplete.

Anglin wrote in a post published Thursday that nationalist groups from the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Greece will attend the march. He also confirmed that “a representative of Hamas will be in attendance, and will give a speech about the international threat of the Jews.”

He said that participants will march through the center of Whitefish and end at Memorial Park, where several people will speak.

Spencer is the president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank. In November, he spoke at a white supremacist event in Washington, D.C., to celebrate President-elect Donald Trump’s election. He called out “Hail Trump!” and was greeted by Nazi salutes.

The Daily Stormer published a blog post last month calling for followers to “take action” against Jews in Whitefish by writing and calling them with anti-Semitic messages. The post claimed that Jewish residents were “threatening” the business run by Spencer’s mother in the town.

The post included the names, phone numbers and addresses of Jewish Whitefish residents, as well as their photos emblazoned with yellow stars. It also showed the Twitter handle and photo of a child. Along with using a number of anti-Semitic slurs, the post warned readers against using “violence or threats of violence or anything close to that.”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald  Lauder is demanding that authorities in Montana immediately put a stop to an armed march being planned by neo-Nazis in the town of Whitefish on January 15, calling it “a dangerous and life-threatening rally that puts all of America at risk.”

“When notorious and self-professed neo-Nazis announce that they are planning to march through a town carrying ‘high-profiled rifles’ in an action targeting ‘Jews, Jewish business, and everyone who supports either,’ the local authorities must respond with quick alarm and vigilance,” Lauder said in a statement.

“This rally crosses the line between freedom of expression and incitement to hatred. The intention of these neo-Nazis is not just to send a political message – they are organizing a dangerous and life-threatening rally that puts all of America, including the local Jewish community, at risk,” he said.

There are about 100 known Jewish households in Whitefish and nearby Kalispell, part of the Flathead Valley.

Montana lawmakers and faith leaders have issued statements in support of the Whitefish community.

Whitefish has a population of about 6,000 full-time residents and is home to a ski resort on Big Mountain called Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Neo-Nazi website: Hamas member will speak at armed march in Montana on MLK Day


A neo-Nazi website said it has filed the paperwork for an armed neo-Nazi march designed to harass the Montana Jewish community of Whitefish.

The march was moved to Jan. 16, a Monday and the national holiday day set aside to observe Martin Luther King Day this year. The march had originally been set for the day before.

Andrew Anglin, who runs the Daily Stormer website, posted a photo of the filed application on Thursday. The Whitefish City Clerk’s Office told the Forward that it had not received an application, and that what was on the website appeared not to be complete.

Anglin wrote in a post published Thursday that nationalist groups from the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Greece will attend the march. He also confirmed that “a representative of Hamas will be in attendance, and will give a speech about the international threat of the Jews.”

He said that participants will march through the center of Whitefish, and end at Memorial Park, where several people will speak.

Whitefish is home to white supremacist leader Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank, as well as his mother. In November, Spencer spoke at a white supremacist event in Washington, D.C., celebrating President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in which he called out “Hail Trump!” and was greeted by Nazi salutes.

The Daily Stormer published a blog post last month calling for followers to “take action” against Jews in Whitefish by writing and calling them with anti-Semitic messages. The post claimed that Jewish residents were “threatening” the business run by Spencer’s mother in the town.

The post included the names, phone numbers and addresses of Jewish Whitefish residents, as well as their photos emblazoned with yellow stars. It also showed the Twitter handle and photo of a child. Along with using a number of anti-Semitic slurs, the post warned readers against using “violence or threats of violence or anything close to that.”

“All I have asked for is an apology and a vow to stop harassing Richard Spencer’s mother in the future,” Anglin wrote Thursday, saying that his request has been refused by human rights activist Tanya Gersh and the Love Lives Here organization. Gersh is a local real estate agent.

“This is absolutely insane, and shows the mentality of Jews,” Anglin said of the lack of an apology.

“And they will rue the day, as they see two hundred skinhead Alt-Right Nazis marching with a guy from Hamas carrying machine guns through the center of their town!”

There are about 100 known Jewish households in Whitefish and nearby Kalispell, part of the Flathead Valley.

Montana lawmakers and faith leaders have issued statements in support of the Whitefish community.

Whitefish has a population of about 6,000 full-time residents and is home to a ski resort on Big Mountain called Whitefish Mountain Resort.

What to do when anti-Semitic bullies come to town


Imagine you live in a rural community and a neo-Nazi website puts your name, picture, pictures of your children, phone numbers, address, email and social media information on its website, encouraging white supremacists to “TAKE ACTION” and “Hit Em Up?”

The “Daily Stormer” website, which mimics the Nazi paper Der Sturmer’s swastikas, caricatures of Jews, and pictures of Hitler, did just that a few weeks ago, targeting Jewish residents of Whitefish, Montana.

How frightened would you be?

Imagine you then received calls, emails, texts and tweets, saying that justice would be served by hanging “filthy jews” from “the nearest lamp post.” Or being told to “Go choke on a shotgun and die . . . You would all be of greater worth to society as human fertilizer than as citizens.”

Criticized, Daily Stormer’s head Andrew Anglin doubled down. He said his group is “continuing our barrage against the criminal Jews of Whitefish [Montana]. . . . We are planning an armed protest in Whitefish . . . we can easily march through the center of town carrying high-powered rifles.”

Why the focus on Whitefish? The human rights groups, in which some local Jews are active, have raised concerns about white supremacist Richard Spencer, whose own white supremacist organization – the National Policy Institute – is based out of his mother’s home there. You may recall Spencer as the white supremacist who convened a conference after Donald Trump’s election, where chants of “Hail Trump” were heard, and Nazi salutes given.

After the threats were reported, and the local and statewide human rights groups — Love Lives Here and the Montana Human Rights Network – defended the targeted Jews, the Stormer expanded its attacks and threatened these groups too.

What is the responsibility of the rest of us, to stop this antisemitic bullying?

History is instructive.

In 1992 a white supremacist group in Billings, Montana threw a brick through the bedroom window of a Jewish boy, who had displayed a picture of a menorah. The local human rights community, joined by the police chief, called on everyone to show the haters that their intimidation backfired. The Billings newspaper printed a page with a menorah, encouraging residents to put it up on their windows. When I asked the police chief how he could persuade people to put their families at risk by doing so, he said the more people who displayed the

menorahs, the lower the risk to any individual family, and the more likely the hate group would back down, given the strong community reaction.

A few years later a Montana white supremacist group called the Freemen threatened public officials who rejected the group’s assertions that, as white men, they were “sovereign citizens,” exempt from laws (like paying taxes and having a driver’s license). Like the situation facing Jews in Whitefish today, children of public officials were threatened. Local Judge Martha Bethel, a target of death threats, sometimes sent her kids out of town. When they were home they heeded law enforcement’s advice about which rooms of their house were the safest to sleep in – to survive a barrage of bullets.

No one should have to live this way.

Now, neo-Nazis want to march through town, with “high-powered rifles.” Anglin says he will be “busing in skinheads from the Bay Area” for this event, possibly during the second week of January. While he says he wants no violence, according to the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, his assertion shouldn’t be believed. The groups with which Anglin appears closest have been involved in violent episodes (in some cases, mixing it up with anti- racist extremists who had tried to stop the racists from holding rallies). On June 27, 2016 Anglin wrote an article entitled “Battle of Sacramento: The First Major Battle of the Race War Ended in a Decisive Victory for Whites.” He wrote, “This war has only just begun. Many more battles lie ahead. Go to the gym, train in martial arts, train to use weapons. The future depends on each one you preparing for what’s coming.”

The likelihood, given the empowerment many white supremacist groups feel from Donald Trump’s election, is that racist and antisemitic thuggery will escalate. Whether that occurs depends not just on the people in Whitefish, but what the rest of us do.

Based on years of experience and successful strategies from other communities, the Justus & Karin Rosenberg Foundation is encouraging human rights supporters everywhere to make lemonade out of lemons. The “Project Lemonade” approach exacts a cost for hatred: if the white supremacists march, they’ll be raising money for things they detest.

Here’s how it works. People promise to donate money to this special fund, tied how many minutes the white supremacists march. The money raised would be used locally for increased security for Jews and Jewish institutions, new programs to promote human rights and defeat

hatred, educational events about the danger of white supremacy, and community and police training on how best to handle a hate incident. The Montana Human Rights Network is well- established organization that is ready to take these pledges and distribute any donations, to help the community and stop the white supremacists.

Our hope is that no money will have to be collected; that the announcement of the pledges – and the realization that if the white supremacists march they’ll be raising funds for purposes they abhor – will be enough to stop them. The more people who sign up to donate to this cause,

the less likely the good people of Whitefish will continue being threatened by antisemitic bullies, and the less likely Anglin’s group, or others like it, will harass people in other towns.

Justus Rosenberg – the president of the small Foundation I direct – is the last surviving member of the group that rescued artists and intellectuals from the Nazis in 1940-41. We are proud to make the first pledge to MHRN’s Project Lemonade effort. Our initial pledge is $10 for every minute of the march, up to $2,500.

We encourage others who can’t sleep well, knowing Jews and human rights activists are fearing being attacked in their homes by organized neo-Nazis, to join us in this effort. Antisemitic bullies can be stopped, but it is up to us all to stop them.


Kenneth S. Stern is the Executive Director of the Justus & Karin Rosenberg Foundation.

Montana rabbi speaks out on anti-Semitic harassment


From his youth in a western Pennsylvania steel town, Rabbi Allen Secher recalls having his head “broken open with rocks thrown behind the phrase ‘Jew bastard.’ ” But since moving to Whitefish, Mont., in 2000, he’s experienced anti-Semitism exactly once — in an off-color comment from a car dealer — and never again.

That changed after a Dec. 16 post on the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer that called for the harassment of Jews in Whitefish, hometown of white supremacist hero Richard Spencer.

Since then, Andrew Anglin, the website’s founder, has called for an armed march on the town to take place on Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

But so far, the saga has played out primarily on the internet. Secher and the other Jewish residents of Whitefish named in the post have been “inundated” with cyberattacks, he told the Journal.

“Hundreds, not just a few,” he said. “Hundreds, and the cyberattacks are brutal.”

Secher, 81, lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade before moving to Chicago in 1980. While here, he served as rabbi of Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge. He said the recent harassment brings his life “full circle” from the anti-Semitism he experienced as a youth.

The original Daily Stormer article went up after Sherry Spencer, Richard’s mother, wrote in a Medium.com post that she was considering selling a commercial property she owns in Whitefish. The elder Spencer said she felt pressure to sell her building due to a backlash against her son’s extremist views, which include establishing a white ethno-state in the United States. 

“Whatever you think about my son’s ideas  —  they are, after all, ideas  —  in what moral universe is it right for the ‘sins’ of the son to be visited upon the mother?” she wrote on Dec. 15.

The next day, Anglin implored his readers to unleash an “an old fashioned Troll Storm” on Montana’s Jews and provided contact details for five Whitefish residents, including Secher and his wife, as well as a local child. The post also included photographs of some of those residents, superimposed with a yellow Star of David bearing the word “Jude,” the German word for Jew.

“Tell them you are sickened by their Jew agenda to attack and harm the mother of someone whom they disagree with,” Anglin wrote.

In a follow-up article, he posted the names and numbers of Whitefish businesses he said were associated with a local anti-hate group. 

On Jan. 5, he posted a permit application for a march from the town’s Memorial Park to Whitefish City Hall titled “James Earl Ray Day Extravaganza,” named after the man who assassinated King. In addition to “two hundred skinhead Alt-Right Nazis,” he wrote that a representative of the terror group Hamas would be on hand to speak.

The Daily Stormer posts have suggested that the group Love Lives Here, co-founded by Secher and his wife, Ina Albert, pressured Sherry Spencer to sell her building. In her Medium article, Spencer said local realtor Tanya Gersh, who Spencer said has ties to the group, threatened to call for a picket of Spencer’s building unless she sold it.

Secher unequivocally rejected the claim that Love Lives Here approached Spencer, saying that Gersh was not speaking on the group’s behalf. Gersh did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

“Nothing was further from the truth,” Secher said of the allegation that his group pressured Spencer. “Love Lives Here never contacted her.”

Nonetheless, Anglin’s posts and others on similar websites whipped up a frenzy of anonymous internet haters, who tossed out a flurry of ethnic slurs against Jews and added “The ovens are waiting” and “Too bad they only killed 6 million.”

Secher said he reported the incidents to the police, the FBI, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

“ADL has been in almost daily contact with the families and law enforcement authorities to address the ongoing anti-Semitic harassment being perpetrated by white nationalists against the Jewish community in Whitefish, Montana,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, wrote the Journal in an emailed statement. “The security of the families involved is our paramount concern.”

Richard Spencer has distanced himself from the harassment while stopping short of denouncing it. 

“I don’t feel personal responsibility” for the hate messages, he told a Whitefish-area newspaper, the Daily Inter Lake.

Responding on Twitter to a question from this reporter, Spencer wrote, “Tanya Gersh attempted a nasty shakedown of an innocent woman.” In a second tweet, he wrote, “I will certainly condemn violence. I will never condemn free expression.”

Spencer gained widespread attention during the recent presidential campaign as one of the founders of the alt-right movement. His think tank, National Policy Institute, has been described by the SPLC as a leader of “academic racism.”

His prominence has cast a shadow on Whitefish, sowing division in public forums and the local press in a town previously known mostly as a pleasant vacation destination close to Glacier National Park.

Secher, for his part, is no stranger to staring down racism.

As a civil rights activist, he was arrested twice while demonstrating with the Freedom Riders: once in Albany, Ga., in 1962 and again in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1964.

This time, he’s received support from Whitefish and across the globe, as far away as Austria.

“The community of Whitefish has been spectacular in their outreach,” he said. “Spectacular. We just got boxes of letters and drawings from the community. Boxes! I have received maybe 500 emails from all over the country of people supporting us, people we don’t even know. I’d say half of those emails are from people we don’t know.”

In general, he said, Whitefish is a welcoming place where he doesn’t feel any different from others due to his religion.

“In this town, in this atmosphere, I’m Allen Secher, who happens to be a rabbi.”