Saturday, March 17, 2007

Anchorage Proposition 9 Now Stillborn - Lubavitch Jewish Center Abandons Controversial Land Swap

The Lubavitch Jewish Center announced late Friday (March 16th, 2007) that it has backed away from its effort to swap land with the city in order to build a Jewish historical museum in College Village. Original story reported in the Anchorage Daily News, with supplemental reports from KTUU Channel 2, KTVA Channel 11, and KIMO Channel 13.

Rabbi Yosef Greenberg (pictured at left courtesy of of Lubavitch Jewish Center said Friday that the plan had become too contentious among the people in the neighborhood and that divisiveness is the exact opposite of what the proposed project is about. "We were told by many that we would be successful with the land swap, but we could not view this as a win when so many of our nearby neighbors are so strongly opposed to the location of our project and our idea," Greenberg said at a press conference Friday. "We value peace and unity above all, and this would be against the core of our mission to bring the community together," he continued.

Greenberg leads a group, called Alaska Historical Jewish Museum & Community Center, that wants to build a complex that combines a synagogue with a museum, a community center and other features. The group drew up preliminary plans to build it on property that included land it owns on the north side of 36th Avenue west of Lake Otis Parkway and an adjacent tract of city-owned land that is part of Jacobson Park.

The museum group and city officials hatched a plan to exchange the one acre of city-owned land for a half-acre of nearby residential land, which would then be added to the park. The group also would have donated $100,000 to the city to pay for Jacobson Park improvements. Unfortunately, the Anchorage Municipal Assembly blithely swept aside concerns expressed by the Rogers Park neighborhood and rubber-stamped the proposed ordinance enabling the swap. Yet that selfsame Assembly put the Anchorage Baptist Temple under a microscope a year earlier over property tax exemptions claimed by ABT for some residences used for non-clerical church workers. Voting libertarian on April 3rd, particularly replacing Midtown Assembly incumbent Dan Coffey with libertarian challenger Jason Dowell, would send a powerful message to the Assembly that they cannot just brush aside the concerns of an entire community.

Consequently, the justifiably outraged members of the Rogers Park Community Council, which represents the neighborhood that would contain the new complex, responded by voting 92-1 to oppose the proposed land swap, which would require voter approval in next month's city election. Council president Heather Ireland (pictured at left courtesy of , who also was at Friday's news conference, said there were many unanswered questions about how the complex would be used and concerns about the proposed project's impact on nearby wetlands, including Otis Lake. Even a prominent local Jewish resident, in an eloquent ADN Compass column, urged the community to vote against the land swap.
However, the proposed land swap will still remain on the ballot as Proposition 9. "We can't take it off," said Mayor Mark Begich. "The ballots have already been printed." Begich said he strongly supports the group's idea but agreed with its decision to back away from the plan. Both the mayor and Greenberg urged voters to nix Proposition 9.

The ballot proposition doesn't mandate the land deal. It only authorizes it. That means that it won't happen even if the measure passes, Begich said. "If the voters say yes at the end of the day, it is very clear that we will not pursue the land trade," he said.

Commentary: The gracious retreat by Rabbi Greenberg and the Lubavitch Center is surprising and gratifying. He didn't react like that loathsome Jewish rabbi in Seattle, who impetuously demanded the city put up a menorah at the airport, threatened to sue if the city didn't respond, and backed off only after a major public uproar, accompanied by scores of protest e-mails, some of it genuine hate mail. The Jewish community in Alaska apparently considers themselves Alaskans first, and Jews second (for the most part - there are isolated exceptions). We want to ensure it remains that way.

The Lubavitch Center should consider targeting a blighted area of downtown for their proposed center. To build it near the newly-renovated McKay Building (now called the McKinley Building) would not only effectively complemented the renovated building, but would spur further rehabilitation and revitalization of the blighted area. Or they could consider acquiring another abandoned structure, the Northern Lights Hotel, on Northern Lights Blvd., if it's not too large for their intended purpose.


  1. Your choice of words speaks volumes of your view of Jews in general. When you referred to the rabbi in Seattle as "that loathsome Jewish rabbi" and your amazing idea of Lubavitch seeking out a "blighted area of town" or even a "blighted building" to renovate, or even when you wrote that Rabbi Greenberg's backing away from the land swap was "surprising", you painted a very clear picture of who you are. Perhaps you would like all Alaskan Jews relegated to a ghetto where you could keep a safe distance from them? No, I'm not Jewish. And good luck trying to "keep" people "Alaskans first" and identifying themselves with their religion 2nd. Even an uneducated, idolater xtian or muslim will consider themself xtian or muslim first and Alaskan second.
    And by the way, what's a rabbi supposed to do when he can't get any cooperation from an airport that puts a big, fat xmas tree in the face of the public but won't put up a menorah even though Chanukah predates xtianity by several hundred years and actually has historical basis and significance? The airport acted like a big baby and quite loathsome in fact when it said, "fine, we'll just take down the tree then!" Why am I wasting my time on a blog that probably never even gets read?

  2. I found this while planning a trip to Anchorage. If everyone there is as anti-Semetic as the author of this article, maybe we need to go someplace else this summer.

  3. thanks for this excellent update, and keeping us informed.

    you might want to check out

    real jewish people dont treat others like these racist, talmudic jews do.

    keep up the good work!

    let us stop world zionist government, one town at a time.

    if not for the rockefellers and all of alaska oil, and that is who funds all these chabad rabbis as rockefeller is head of world sephardic jewry, alaska would be a wonderful christian state!!!

    if there was no oil and no money to be made by exploiting the indigenous americans, and i am one, there would be no jews in alaska but those whom were christians and decents!