Wal-Mart, oy!In Bentonville, Arkansas, the heart of the Bible Belt and the location of Wal-Mart headquarters, there are 39 Baptist, 27 United Methodist and 20 Assembly of God churches. And one synagogue. And one Chabad shteibel. The synagogue, opened by Jewish Wal-Mart employees 2 years ago, is actually called Congregation Etz Chaim and not Temple Beth Wal-Mart. The 100 members of the synagogue have already had quite an impact amongst the residents of Bentonville and their interest in Jewish worship has attracted officials from the Conservative and Reform movements who would like to have the synagogue affiliate with their movements, as well as the aforementioned Chabad shaliach who runs his own thing out of his house.

The synagogue is officially non-denominational, but their Rabbi who comes in once a month is Conservative and the congregation allows photography (without flash) during sabbath services. This little blip of a Jewish community has members who have opened a Jewish (not kosher) deli (serving knishes and latkes, pronounced “LOT-kuz” if you’re a sheigetz), and have engaged their neighboursin interfaith dialogue.

So far, no one’s been lynched, so it’s looking good! Read all about it in The New York Times.

Thanks to Tina and Shlomo for the head’s up!

About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

5 Comments

  • Contrary to what people think, there ARE jews in arkansas! I am a Russian Jew but i grew up in Little Rock!

  • The comment from the DJ about liking Seinfeld caused me to snort with laughter whilst on public transport – a feat only previously accomplished by the novels of Steven Fry.

  • Little Rock actually has a nice little Jewish Community from what I understand. One of my Rabbis used to be the Rabbi for the Orthodox congregation there, but that was something like 25 years ago.

  • I was in Bentonville, AK, a few years ago. I thought I was the only kipa wearer there as far as the eye could see.

    At the end of my stay, a guy took a seat a few rows in front of me on the return flight out of Rogers Airport and pulled out his kipa as he sat down.

    Next visit, if ever, I’ll know better.

    And indeed, Lot was a cuz’!

  • My wife’s dad lives in AK (albiet five hours away from Bentonville) and found this article fascinating. When we stay be her folks with our daughter there are three whole Jews in the town.

    (We go into Memphis for Shabbos. Nice Jewish community)

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