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Welcome to the largest Jewish Congregation in Alaska

Congregation Beth Sholom welcomes all visitors who wish to worship with us. We are a progressive congregation affiliated with Reform Judaism and are proud to be of service to those from diverse Jewish backgrounds. Please visit our About Us page for a detailed description of our values.

Our facilities are located in a peaceful, natural setting to enhance your spiritual experience. While our in-person services are limited, you can always watch livestream services on our YouTube channel: Alaska Judaism Media.

 

 

Friday Night Shabbat Services

Congregation Beth Sholom YouTube Channel: Alaska Judaism Media 

Anchorage Alaska

Join Us Every Friday

6 PM - 7 PM

Join us in person or online for Shabbat Services,
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

 

 

A message from Rabbi Abram Goodstein

Dear Members and Friends of Congregation Beth Sholom:

 

      

        

The book Exodus illustrates one of Judaism’s foundational ideologies. We were slaves in Egypt then we were free with help from Adonai. This narrative, whether historically accurate or not, is a cornerstone of our Jewish identity. What’s so fascinating about this particular narrative, is that Egypt wasn’t so bad until now. Joseph was given the opportunity to prosper, without needing to hide his heritage. Abraham has a run in with Pharaoh while he spent some time in Egypt, where Pharaoh needed to chastise Abraham for lying to him.  So up until Exodus Egypt seemed like a ready and willing partner in helping the survival of ancient Adonai worshipers.

        

Obviously things change after the book of Exodus and the Israelites accuse Egypt of some real heinous human rights violations. Egypt, which was the salvation of Joseph and his family, becomes the boogeyman immortalized in the tableau of our Passover seder every year. Egypt is the sinister force that taught us the hardship of slavery. So, for me the question isn’t whether Egypt was as bad as our Torah suggests, but why do we need Egypt to be the bad guys, when evidence suggests that they possibly weren’t as bad as the Torah suggests.

        

Egyptologists will tell you that the Egyptians were prolific record keepers, and yet there is no evidence of a great Israelite exodus in their records. It’s certainly possible that they didn’t choose to write it down or the record was lost after all the “Absence of Evidence does not mean Evidence of Absence.” That’s a Carl Sagan quote.

 

But, there are plenty of records of the role of servitude in Egypt society. Egyptologists have broken it down to two kinds; conscripted labor and forced labor. I’m going to have professor Jan Assmann explain the difference, he wrote, “Throughout the Ancient Orient, conscripted labor was a customary form of taxation and could be paid in the form of labor service. [Between Conscripted labor and forced labor] The first form is free from every degrading or punishing aspect, the second form, however, is the usual form of punishment in antiquity and highly degrading.” Forced labor in Egypt was used punitively against criminals or immigrants from vassal states.

        

It is very possible as a vassal state that Canaanites where pressganged into forced labor. Especially if the Land of Canaan was a vassal state of Egypt. Which Egypt has recorded to be the case from 1500-1100 BCE. And scholars, by the way, believe that if the exodus did happen it would around 1250 BCE, so right in the middle of that time. However, the evidence in our Torah suggests this is not the case. Not only do the Israelites not encounter Egyptians in the Sinai, but when they do reach the land of Canaan, there is no mention of Egyptians running or controlling anything in the land of Canaan. But spies do bring back stories of giants living in Canaan so the Israelites weren’t exactly the most trustworthy of story tellers.

 

Interestingly enough our Tanakh tells us of Solomon pressganging Israelites to help build the Temple. In 1 Kings, it state, “King Solomon imposed forced labor on all Israel; the levy came to 30,000 men. He sent them to the Lebanon in shifts of 10,000 a month: they would spend one month in the Lebanon and two months at home.” This is the same kind of forced labor that Egypt used on immigrants on vassal states. Yet unlike Egypt we have no reports of Solomon committing human rights violations in his effort to build the Temple and his palace.

 

My point is this, the accusation against Egypt from the Israelites is extreme by both Ancient and Modern standards. Egypt not only enslaved them as a people to perform back breaking labor, but attempted to euthanize their babies. And as we know Pharoah is unwilling to change his policies against the Israelites until Egyptians experience having their own children euthanized as retaliation. It’s a bloody, violent, and senseless affair. This Egypt could not be more different than the Egypt we encountered with Joseph.

 

After the Israelites leave Egypt, they discover the meaning of freedom. It’s a concept that becomes famously difficult to achieve. The Israelites require 40 years of deprogramming in order to behave like a free people. And our escape from Egypt becomes a cornerstone of Jewish ideology observed and celebrated each year during Passover. We were once slaves and now we are a free people. A sinister Egypt whether historically accurate or not fueled this ideology for 3 Millenia. Egypt is a powerful fall guy.

 

But there is another lesson here. Beware the ideology of the slaver state. Even a country that was friendly could fall into it. Egypt could be synonymous to any country that utilized slaves for their infrastructure projects. The Exodus narrative shows how ridiculously unwilling Egypt was to give up this cheap labor force. Moses created an economic, health, and natural disaster crisis in Egypt, which were easily avoidable by giving up this work force, yet Egypt was unwilling or unable to comply. It’s a mindset that defies logic. Us Jews for some reason are the recipient of this mindset throughout history. So perhaps this story serves as a warning. Freedom isn’t something you earn once by crossing a sea. Freedom is something that we have to fight for again and again. For me if Egypt is the fall guy for us to learn this lesson, it’s worth it.

 

 

Rabbi Abram Goodstein

New Year Message from the President of the Board, Stacey Saunders

Shana Tova!

I’m Stacey Saunders, President of Congregation Beth Sholom’s Board of Trustees.

I am happy and grateful to see so many of you in person after the past two years. I am also so happy to welcome those of you joining on our Livestream broadcast.

Since the COVID 19 pandemic, we often hear that we are living in the “new normal.” I believe that our sense of “normal” has always been evolving and changing. The pandemic accelerated changes that were already taking place.

We were already relying on technology for communication, work and school. With COVID 19 more of us learned to use videoconferencing and streaming services. For those of us who worked from home offices, what was once considered a luxury or perk became a necessity. Then even with the ability to return to workplaces, we began to reconsider what efficiency and productivity look like.

Does it only happen in an office away from home or can we get more done at our dining tables without a commute and with a refrigerator with lunch a few feet away? And with the required periods of physical separation we found ways to stay in touch in “Bubbles”, with masks, doing the 6-feet apart tango.

It was all painful, strained, but thought-provoking. For many, it caused us to reflect on what is important to us.

Read More...


Congregation Beth Sholom


Congregation Beth Sholom is a diverse and inclusive Jewish community, welcoming people of all ages, backgrounds, family structures, and worship styles.

 

   Join Us   

 

Buy a book. Give a gift.

CBS has a goal to receive 25 copies of The Torah: A Women's Commentary. Your generous gift adds modern and unique perspectives to the study of Torah at CBS. As an inclusive-inspired Congregation, CBS strives to provide literary content accessible to all. Won't you participate in this great opportunity?

Books can be purchased through the CCAR Press link below.

Mailing address for the book order:
Congregation Beth Sholom
7525 East Northern Lights Blvd
Anchorage, AK 99504

Click Here To Go To CCAR Press

Click Here to See Other Great Books For Your Home

Volunteer Opportunities

Want to make a difference?
Don't have much time?
Ready to join a committee?

This Community works because it is run by its members. Your participation expands Jewish thought, programming, education, and community throughout Alaska., and beyond?

Take a look at some of our current opportunities and if there is something you see needs doing, feel free to reach out to Rabbi Abram or Stacey Saunders, our Congregation President.

  • Library Committee
  • Food Bank
  • Social Action Committee
  • Website
  • Multimedia Committee (photography, videos, live-streaming, social media, website)
  • Gemilut Chasadim (Loving Kindness outreach committee)
  • many more opportunities; let us know your ideas and skills! There's room for everyone at every age.

Click here for more opportunities

Make a Donation



Congregation Beth Sholom operates on the goodwill of our members and the community. We welcome your generous donations.

Here are a few ways you can help.

  • Support our Shabbat Live-stream in memory or in honor of a special person or occasion, or simply to share the joy of Shabbat with the community.
  • Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
  • Jewish Education Center (JEC)
  • Scholarship Fund
  • Planned Giving

Click Here to make a donation

Services Online

Sun Mon Tues Wed Thu Fri Sat
Fast of Tevet
     
    • 8:30am Midweek Morning Minyan (Zoom)
     
    • 3:48pm Candle Lighting
    • 6:00pm Friday Evening Shabbat Service (YouTube Live)
    Va-y'chi
    • 10:30am Shabbat Morning Text Study
    • 4:54pm Havdalah
    • 7:30pm Havdalah in Anchorage (Facebook)
     
    • 8:30am Midweek Morning Minyan (Zoom)
     
    • 4:03pm Candle Lighting
    • 6:00pm Friday Evening Shabbat Service (YouTube Live)
    Sh'mot
    • 10:30am Shabbat Morning Text Study
    • 5:09pm Havdalah
    • 7:30pm Havdalah in Anchorage (Facebook)
     
    • 8:30am Midweek Morning Minyan (Zoom)
    • 7:00pm CBS Board Meetings (Call to confirm)
     
    • 4:20pm Candle Lighting
    • 6:00pm Friday Evening Shabbat Service (YouTube Live)
    Va-eira
    • 9:00am Judaism 101
    • 10:30am Shabbat Morning Text Study
    • 5:27pm Havdalah
    • 7:30pm Havdalah in Anchorage (Facebook)
     
    • 8:30am Midweek Morning Minyan (Zoom)
     
    • 4:38pm Candle Lighting
    • 6:00pm Friday Evening Shabbat Service (YouTube Live)
    Bo
    • 10:30am Shabbat Morning Text Study
    • 12:00pm Religious School for adults
    • 5:46pm Havdalah
    • 7:30pm Havdalah in Anchorage (Facebook)
     
    • 8:30am Midweek Morning Minyan (Zoom)
     
    • 4:58pm Candle Lighting
    • 6:00pm Friday Evening Shabbat Service (YouTube Live)
    B'shalach
    • 10:30am Shabbat Morning Text Study
    • 6:05pm Havdalah
    • 7:30pm Havdalah in Anchorage (Facebook)

     

    Thu, January 26 2023 4 Sh'vat 5783