Alaska’s Only Synagogue Plans Unique Fund-raising Project
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Alaska’s Only Synagogue Plans Unique Fund-raising Project

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Members of the only synagogue in Alaska have commissioned a non-Jewish artist to go to Israel and prepare 20 watercolors on his return to be used in a campaign for funds to expand the heavily-used Reform synagogue, according to a report in the Jewish Transcript of Seattle.

According to the report, Byron Birdsall is a well-known Alaskan artist, who came to Alaska five years ago to work with an advertising agency. The son of a Methodist missionary, the artist is an extensive world traveler but the trip to Israel is his first.

Rabbi Lester Polonsky said the idea was developed by two women members of Congregation Beth Sholom. the artist’s drawings of the landscape and life in Israel will be sold by the congregation. Proceeds will go to the synagogue building fund.

The rabbi said that as mothers of growing children, Susan Shapiro and Janice Shamberg “see a real urgency to expand their synagogue to accomodate their children and the other 100 children enrolled in the religious school.” He said the compaign funds would be used also to provide areas for future community activities.

Polonsky reported that the synagogue is 2,700-square-foot structure built in 1964, when the congregation consisted of 50 families. The growing congregation engaged Polonsky in 1978 as its first full-time rabbi and now has some 150 families. Declaring that the synagogue building is getting “an incredible amount of use,” he said that “we desperately need a new facility.”

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