If you’ve been to the University of Minnesota this week, you’ve seen what happens when our community sticks together.
Maybe you were at TCF Bank stadium on Wednesday night, where more than 250 passionate people showed up to hear radical new ideas for making our community relevant and accessible to the next generation. The next morning at Minnesota Hillel, professionals from 25 Jewish organizations, schools, and synagogues across the Twin Cities dove deeper into strategies for reinventing our Jewish organizations. There was no competition or criticism, just Jewish communal professionals coming together in a shared commitment to our community.
The training, and an equally thought-provoking Leadership Summit the night before, happened during a trying time for Jews at the U. Jewish students on campus have been working overtime to rally the campus against a divisive and discriminatory BDS referendum placed on the ballot for this week’s student elections. These students are inspiring us with their initiative and tenacity.
Behind every student who raises her voice is a vibrant Jewish community. There’s the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas on the ground at the U providing resources to help the students be effective advocates for Israel. Minnesota Hillel is organizing students and providing a safe community space. Sunday schools and Jewish day schools taught these students the values of justice and tikkun olam. Trips to Israel helped the students experience the country, develop a love for it, and galvanize their support for its existence. And Federation empowered these organizations to do this important work.
At Minnesota Hillel yesterday, Rabbi Mike Uram said “there is no such thing as Jewish community,” that we are made up of many communities. While I agree with him for the need to engage in new and disruptive ways, I disagree with this one point. All of the aforementioned demonstrates that at times we are a community.
Because of the students’ hard work, we have a good chance of beating down this insidious demonstration of anti-Semitism. The effort by Jewish students and the massive support they received from a united Jewish community will not go unnoticed—nor will it slow down. We will continue empowering students to stand up for what they believe in. If the passing of this referendum leads to anti-Semitic activity on campus, the Jewish community will be there. All of us.
P.S. In another act of community, teen members of the Twin Cities Jewish communities—including Adath Jeshurun, Bet Shalom, Beth El, Beth Jacob, Darchei Noam, Mt. Zion, Shir Tikvah, Temple Israel, Temple of Aaron, regional NFTY and USY, and more—are working to organize buses to attend the national March For Our Lives in Washington DC on March 24.
This march is on Shabbat, so the group will be driving in early to spend Friday night in a local reform synagogue in DC. The group will be keeping Shabbat on the 24th—reading Torah together in the morning and then walking to, and in, the march. Join us in funding or supporting this group in our community. You can learn more and contact them here. We wish them safe travels.