JHSUM awarded 3 Legacy grants!

JHSUM is working to ensure the Upper Midwest Jewish Story is part of Minnesota Historical Society’s on line encyclopedia. We are hard at work creating 15 entries of Minnesota’s synagogues and 15 entries of our Jewish institutions and organizations.

MNopedia site makes history fun

If you don’t know much about Minnesota history, here’s a chance to upgrade your ignorance — and add your own comments — without leaving your La-Z-Boy.

The Minnesota Historical Society has launched a prototype of the first online state encyclopedia, dubbed MNopedia, and it’s as easily surfable as it is informative. In a matter of minutes, you can bone up on John Beargrease of sled-dog race fame, the harrowing St. Anthony Falls tunnel collapse of 1869, and a wonderfully concise 3,000-year architectural overview by Larry Millett, beginning with Indian burial mounds and ending with suburban big-box stores.

Did you know that way back in the late 1800s, Fredrick McGhee, the state’s first African-American attorney, was a prominent St. Paul trial lawyer and that milling titan Charles Pillsbury started one of the nation’s first profit-sharing plans for company employees?
Well, now you do.

Mikro Kodesh, Minneapolis.

Mikro Kodesh, Minneapolis.

MNopedia entries may be scholarly, but they aren’t dry. In an essay by historian and professor Annette Atkins on the development of Minneapolis and St. Paul as both twins and rivals, the author muses, “Wouldn’t every citizen’s life be improved if, for example, the cities adopted the same snow emergency rules?”

The launch was paid for with $215,000 from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund segment of the state’s Legacy Amendment, and the grant has been renewed for 2012. As a “beta” site, it’s currently offering limited entries from Minnesota’s industrial era, and will continue building expert-provided content and photo archives, said editor Erica Hartmann.

The Historical Society had long planned to try to produce a print encyclopedia, but the online alternative proved much less costly, easier to update and more interactive, she said. Drawing inspiration from similar sites created by the states of Virginia and Georgia, as well as Sydney, Australia, and the country of New Zealand, the site’s developers consulted many local historians and educators on topic categories and content, which will adhere to state educational standards for use in classrooms.

Asked whether Wikipedia doesn’t already cover much of this territory, Hartmann stressed that while Wikipedia is “a valuable resource already out there,” MNopedia’s writers must have proven expertise, and that fact-checking will be more scrupulous on the state site.
“We name the authors and our content is vetted,” she said. Take note, students about to start school and get assigned papers.
Another difference: Because MNopedia’s scope is more limited than Wikipedia’s, “we’ll be more able to find the needles in the haystacks that a Wiki editor wouldn’t necessarily know about.”

These standards don’t mean citizens are prohibited from contributing to the site. The Historical Society wants public input on content to be added and offers the chance to comment after every entry.
“Minnesotans are paying for it, so they should help shape what’s in it,” she said.

To weigh in, go to and click “Discuss.”

Click here to see JHSUM’s first article on MNopedia about Mikro Kodesh Synagogue in Minneapolis!


Hat tip to our Legacy grant partner Adath Jeshurun

The Adath Jeshurun Foundation is the proud recipient of a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grant to fund the L’Dor V’Dor Archival Processing Project, a partnership between Adath Jeshurun Congregation and the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest (JHSUM). The grant will fund nine months of a twelve month project to access, organize and catalog 127 years of archival materials documenting the history of Minnesota’s oldest Jewish Conservative congregation, to preserve Adath’s heritage and make it available to Minnesota in a useful form. The final collection will span the history of Adath Jeshurun, Bnai Emet and its predecessor congregations, Mikro Kodesh, Tefereth Bnai Jacob, B’nai Abraham and Mikro-Tefereth, and will eventually be housed in the Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives at the University of Minnesota.

This makes 8 State of Minnesota Legacy grants for JHSUM and our partners!

Adath torahs removed form Dupont Ave.

Adath torahs removed form Dupont Ave.



Celebrating the Northside

Read American Jewish World’s article “Celebrating The Northside“.


Did you know?

Jews and Baseball
We hit one out of the park during the Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival! JHSUM and the St. Paul JCC partnered to present Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story at the Theatres at Mall of America. The overflow, sold-out screening was so popular that a second showing was quickly scheduled. The documentary features a rare interview with Hall of Famer L A Dodger’s pitcher Sandy Koufax. He talks about the day he contributed to Minnesota Jewish history by sitting out game one of the 1965 World Series against the Twins at the old Met Stadium because it was Yom Kippur.

World War II weekend at Fort Snelling
JHSUM and Minneapolis Federation’s VOICE Community Building Initiative sponsored a unique panel and accompanying exhibit as part of the Minnesota Historical Society’s World War II weekend at Fort Snelling. This is the second year we have been invited to participate. The Soviet Union was America’s ally in World War II and it had its own Greatest Generation. A trio of Jewish Soviet veterans, now residing in the Twin Cities—Vladimir Posse, Yakov Rabinovich, and Maria Borisovna Reznik—told their remarkable, and until recently, largely overlooked stories, adding a new perspective to the American World War II story we are familiar with.
More than 20 million Soviet citizens died in what they called The Great Patriot War—about 50 times the number of American deaths—including well over one million Jews. Soviet soldiers contributed to the defeat of fascism, but did not enjoy the freedoms of democracy; victory was soon followed by horrific Stalinist purges and authoritarian rule. Jews, in particular, experienced significant discrimination after the war, and most were unable to leave for decades.  Read more about our newest community members in our Russian Veterans Oral History Project.

Saint Paul’s Jewish Neighborhood – We Built Community
Our new exhibit at Sholom East spotlights some of the early St. Paul Jewish neighborhoods. Do you remember stories of the West Side?  A neighborhood described as Orthodox, Yiddish speaking and working class, with many breadwinners holding down blue collar jobs in the garment, needlework and manufacturing industries in downtown St Paul. Located at a bend in the Mississippi River the area flooded with predictable regularity.  It was a source of cheap housing, and quickly became a rich, if worn center of St. Paul Jewish life and culture. Most of the early arrivals were single men and families who found work and saved to bring over other family members remaining in the old country. In short order the community set to work establishing various organizations that more than 100 years later continue to build Jewish St. Paul.

Many Former North Siders returned for summer walking tours
Nearly 75 people joined our volunteer tour guides Bob Roscoe and Iric Nathanson along with our partner, Preserve Minneapolis, on walks through the neighborhood.  “My parents owned the Homewood Theater.” “I was an usher at the Homewood.” “Ha who wasn’t?” “Your parents owned the theater? I was just telling my friend about how we would sneak in there without paying; I think I might owe you 10-15 cents?” The child of the owners laughed and said, “I am thinking that might be 15 cents with 50 years of interest.”  Just a few of the comments from visitors!   Read the entire blog post here.

JHSUM debuts on Independence Mall
Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History tells the story of more than 350 years of American Jewish history including our Upper Midwest Jewish experience homesteading in the Dakotas.  JHSUM materials are part of their permanent video depicting the diverse backgrounds, expectations, and experiences of Jews who came and made their homes in the United States.   Photographs of Rachel Calof’s family’s homestead are featured prominently in the Dreams of Freedom, 1880-1945 exhibition chronicling the migration of millions of immigrants who came to the United States beginning in the late 19th century. JHSUM fulfills many requests nationally and internationally to use our materials in exhibits, publications, and documentary films.

A picture is worth…

About 500 words! Click here to see one of JHSUM’s photos and read A Manifesto for the Seventh Day.


JHSUM’s VOICE Co-Sponsored Event in the News

Click here to view AJW’s article “Soviet Jews film to premiere June 8″.


JHSUM’s Judges and Lawyers Exhibit in the News

Click here to read AJW’s article “Jewish lawyers from the Twin Cities recount their experiences over recent decades”.