Alaska opens first Jewish museum

(JTA) — Alaska opened its first Jewish museum in Anchorage, the state’s largest city.

The Esformes Jewish Campus of Alaska was dedicated this month.

“This is a museum about Alaska’s contribution to Jewish life and about the contribution of Jews to Alaska,” said Rabbi Yosef Greenberg, who with his wife, Esty, and a group of Alaskan Jews conceived of the project nearly a decade ago.

The Greenbergs in 2007 arranged for Chicago philanthropists Morris and Delicia Esformes to match donations. According to a report on Lubavitch.com, several prominent members of Alaska’s Jewish community also pitched in to raise the $4 million needed to buy a building for the campus and much of the $2.5 million needed for renovation.

In addition to an early education program and Chabad center, the campus is home to the Alaska Jewish Museum and Cultural Center.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan attended the museum’s opening, according to the report.

“On the Wings of Eagles,” the museum’s opening exhibit, tells the story of the role played by Alaska Airlines pilots in Operation Magic Carpet, which brought  49,000 Yemenite Jews to Israel from June 1949 to September 1950.

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