In May, we recognize Jewish American Heritage Month. During this time, we “join together to discover, explore, and celebrate the vibrant and varied American Jewish experience from the dawn of our nation to the present day.” Minnesota’s Jewish communities have a long and impactful history, including the development of various community spaces and efforts toward social justice, and much more. We can learn about these communities and their voices by taking some time to explore the many resources available in the Minnesota Digital Library, Ebooks Minnesota, and eLibrary Minnesota.
Ruth F. Brin, an author who wrote poetry, books, and a memoir, is one of these voices. Her writing explored her experience and that of her community. Brin was also known for her advocacy for women’s rights. Learn more about her experience growing up Jewish in Minnesota through her interview with Northern Lights on the Minnesota Digital Library.
America’s Jewish communities predate the struggle for independence from England. But it was not until the early 20th century’s waves of immigration that the population of these communities really grew. Jewish communities fleeing persecution in Europe came to the U.S. in hopes of finding freedom and opportunity. While many settled on the east coast, some arrived in Minnesota due to family connections and economic opportunities. Already-established Jewish communities in St. Paul and North Minneapolis were ready to help these newcomers. Far from home, these new immigrants maintained strong connections to their traditions and culture. Unfortunately, antisemitism in Minnesota subjected its Jewish communities to violence and exclusion. These hardships helped spur the creation of community institutions such as hospitals, schools, non-profit organizations, businesses, and social clubs. Many of these institutions have played powerful roles in advocating for charity, social justice, and civil rights in Minnesota.
Minnesota’s Jewish communities continue to make an impact today. Learn more by reading “Jewish Community of North Minneapolis” and “The Lost Jewish Community of the West Side Flats, 1882-1962” both of which are available via Ebooks Minnesota.