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		                            <span class="slider_description">Pastor Matt Shultz and Rabbi Abram Goodstein discuss their favorite topic: Religion. Each month they share their religious theology and ideology and show that there is more that divines us than divides us.</span>
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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.

The 5782/2022 Community Seder Was a Huge Success!

It was wonderful to see so many of you at the Seder this year. For many people, it was their first time back in the synagogue after such a long time. Thank you to all who attended.

This year's game was for each table who participates, to tell the story of the Exodus in 5 sentences or less. The catch? They had to include 3 obscure words given to the table in advance. What fun we all had laughing and enjoying our creativity. The kids loved the afikomen hunt and the Rabbi was able to retrieve the afikomen and complete the Seder. Good job, kids!

Special thanks to our many volunteers without whom this would not have been possible.

Next Year in Jerusalem!

 

 

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 of Congregation Beth Sholom

 

           

There is a strange passage that comes from Leviticus 14 and it goes like this: God says, “When you enter the Land of Canaan that I give you as possession, and I inflict an intrusive plague upon a house in the land you possess. The owner of the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, ‘Something like the plague has appeared upon my home.’”

 

I’m going to need to unpack this passage. First off, I would like to point out that the Israelites are still wandering in the desert and no one owns permanent homes. The 40 years of wandering has not happened yet. So, they are receiving instructions that are not even actionable for another 40 plus years. So, there’s that.

 

Second, the word for plague here in Hebrew is Tzarat. This is the same word used for contagious skin rash. Tzarat is often a term confused for Hansen’s disease or as I like to call it Hollywood Leprosy. Tzarat was contagious, but could have been anything from a benign skin rash to a deadly bacteria eating away at one’s skin and nervous system. You may have noticed that history took the most dramatic interpretation of Tzarat as seen in many Hollywood films as leprosy. Anyways apparently homes get it too. The prevailing thought is that Tzarat of a home is not a flesh-eating bacteria, but mold. Which is still pretty dangerous.

 

Which leads to my third point, Adonai is admitting that this plague is created by God. To me this is a big admission. In fact, nowhere else in Leviticus does Adonai admit that Tzarat comes from God. Only when it comes to homes. Just like Tzarat for people, this means that the home stays in quarantine for 7 to 14 days. And if the Tzarat does not go away, the house is destroyed stone by stone.

 

Rashi, who is probably Judaism most famous Torah commentator has such a hilariously bizarre reason for this. He wrote, “because the Amorites concealed treasures of gold in the walls of their houses during the whole forty years the Israelites were in the wilderness in order that they might not possess the gold when they conquered the land, and in consequence of the plague they would pull down the house and discover the gold.”

 

Essentially Rashi is trying to spin it as a positive thing. That Israelites are apparently living in old Amorite houses. Whenever an Amorite home contracts Tzarat, it means the homeowner could find Gold. And sense this is a Godly admitted problem, God wants the recent homeowner to find the Gold. Now I first took this as a ridiculous and hilarious interpretation. However, when I started to read other commentators take on this passage, I began to truly understand Rashi’s position.

 

The fact that God admits to plaguing homes is deeply troubling for our rabbinic ancestors. Because if God does something, ancient theology dictates that it was for a reason. Thus, biblical theology and post biblical theology pretty much up to Modernity suggests that a person deserves the punishment received by God. A person deserves a bad thing happening to them.

 

This leads into an unfortunate rabbit hole. Because if you are living in Canaan just trying to get through your day as best you can and find mold in your home then your life gets so much harder for two difficult reasons. The first is that your house is quarantined, and you can’t enter it from 7 to 14 days. The second and probably harder, is the stigma that somehow you deserved this punishment. And our scholarly ancestors were anything if not creative about the crimes such a person could have committed.

      

Here is a list of these possible crimes. Perhaps this mold means that the homeowner seized this home violently. Maybe the homeowner bore false witness while in the house. Or the homeowner was too stingy, and essentially not willing to share household items. Perhaps they were not willing to donate their money to charity. Maybe the homeowner was being made an example for the rest of the community. These are all suggestions presented by our ancient scholars for why a homeowner’s house is moldy. I can’t imagine the untold damage these discussions made for people who just want to live in a home worry free and happen to notice some mold on their walls.

 

So back to Rashi. What was a ridiculous and flippant position hits home in the context of these other scholars’ discussions. Rashi offered an explanation that did not stigmatize or demonize a person with a moldy house. Furthermore, the weight of his authority, as Judaism’s number one Torah commentator, provides a home for an explanation that did not harm others. Now all people who were blamed for having moldy homes could refer to Rashi, a household name, in their defense.

 

This is why I love Judaism. What on the surface looks to be a funny and whimsical comment turned out to be a brave, valuable, and helpful position for Jews. One could argue that Rashi’s silly comment is a critique on previous scholar’s outlandish claims of why God admits to plaguing homes. That Rashi’s comment is a proportioned response to the insane logic of victim blaming.

 

There is a lesson for us in the here and now. Because currently in our country, Trans People and members of the LGBTQ community are being treated as if they have Tzarat. As if God gave them Tzarat and that it is their fault. It is of course a classic and particularly cruel case of victim blaming. Judaism teaches us that all people are created Betzelim Elohim. In the image of God. Thus, each person is a unique expression of God. Rashi teaches us that we can be creative even whimsical in our protest.

 

One of my favorite examples of creative protesting is the Birds aren’t Real movement. A group of people, mostly younger, are going around claiming that birds are not real, but are actually drone replicas installed by the government to spy on Americans. Protesters have been seen over at the Twitter headquarters asking them to change their logo. A little bit like Rashi’s comment, at first glance this seems like a conspiracy fueled crackpot protest that is completely disinterested with reality. However, upon closer examination you will find that it’s founder is quoted as saying, “It’s a way to combat troubles in the world that you don’t really have other ways of combatting,” He continues, “My favorite way to describe the organization is fighting lunacy with lunacy.” The bird brigade, as protesters lovingly call themselves can be found offering counter protests at major political anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rallies. Their goal is to de-escalate protests and provide a home for people that want to put a mirror in front of protesters rallying around misinformation.

 

I think our country needs more of this. Protests that highlight silliness, whimsy, and the ridiculous can be a form of bravery. They can be an intelligent and creative response to victim blaming. A critique, to harmful and cruel policies that illogically discriminate against the other. Most importantly they make a space for those who just want to live their lives and then go home.

 

Rabbi Abram Goodstein


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
Yom HaZikaron
  • 8:00am Midweek Morning Minyan (Zoom)
  • 10:00am Mask Making (Zoom)
Yom HaAtzmaut
     
    • 6:00pm Friday Evening Shabbat Service (YouTube Live)
    • 10:02pm Candle Lighting
    K'doshim
    • 10:30am Shabbat Morning Text Study
    • 7:30pm Havdalah in Anchorage (Facebook)
    • 11:09pm Havdalah
     
    • 8:00am Midweek Morning Minyan (Zoom)
    • 10:00am Mask Making (Zoom)
     
    • 6:00pm Friday Evening Shabbat Service (YouTube Live)
    • 10:21pm Candle Lighting
    Emor
    • 10:30am Shabbat Morning Text Study
    • 7:30pm Havdalah in Anchorage (Facebook)
    • 11:28pm Havdalah
     
    • 8:00am Midweek Morning Minyan (Zoom)
    • 10:00am Mask Making (Zoom)
    • 7:00pm CBS Board Meetings (Call to confirm)
    Lag BaOmer
       
      • 6:00pm Friday Evening Shabbat Service (YouTube Live)
      • 10:39pm Candle Lighting
      B'har
      • 9:00am Judaism 101
      • 10:30am Shabbat Morning Text Study
      • 7:30pm Havdalah in Anchorage (Facebook)
      • 11:45pm Havdalah
       
      • 8:00am Midweek Morning Minyan (Zoom)
      • 10:00am Mask Making (Zoom)
       
      • 6:00pm Friday Evening Shabbat Service (YouTube Live)
      • 10:55pm Candle Lighting
      B'chukotai
      • 12:01am Havdalah
      • 10:30am Shabbat Morning Text Study
      • 7:30pm Havdalah in Anchorage (Facebook)
      Yom Y'rushalayim
         
        • 8:00am Midweek Morning Minyan (Zoom)
        • 10:00am Mask Making (Zoom)
         
        • 6:00pm Friday Evening Shabbat Service (YouTube Live)
        • 11:09pm Candle Lighting
        Erev Shavuot
        B'midbar
        • 12:07am Candle Lighting
        • 10:30am Shabbat Morning Text Study
        • 7:30pm Havdalah in Anchorage (Facebook)

         

        Thu, May 26 2022 25 Iyar 5782