Minneapolis-St. Paul

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The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in *Minnesota consist of a metropolitan area of 2.7 million inhabitants, well over half of the state's population. Although settled earlier, St. Paul was smaller, which is reflected in the fact that St. Paul's Jewish population in 2004 was estimated to be almost 11,000, while Minneapolis' was a bit over 29,000. The cities are arranged like beads on a necklace, with the Mississippi River running through both. Settled at different times, the towns have different personalities: St. Paul is sometimes compared to Boston, while Minneapolis is a brash prairie town. St. Paul developed as a river port and later as a wholesaling center, while Minneapolis gained ascendancy as a railroad center as well as for its role in lumber and grain milling. They even differ in ethnic makeup: St. Paul has a high proportion of Irish Catholics while Minneapolis' is Scandinavian. The cities' Jewish development also took different trajectories. Today the cities' industrial drivers are high technology, manufacture of scientific instruments and products, industrial machinery, printing, publishing, and food product processing.

St. Paul

Jews were among the earliest settlers in the city, which was incorporated in 1849. By 1856 there were enough Jews to establish Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation. Despite internal rancor, the congregation endured and hired their first rabbi in 1871. The congregation moved toward Reform during his stay, evidenced by the fact that in 1871 the women's auxiliary suggested purchasing an organ. Members were both American-born and of German origin who became wholesale and retail merchants. Some took part in civic affairs as well: Jacob J. Noah, son of Mordecai Manuel Noah, was appointed clerk of the Dakota County District Court and elected as the first clerk of the state Supreme Court in 1857. Isaac Cardozo was appointed a deputy of the United States District Court in 1858. He was among the founders of Mount Zion and the first president of B'nai B'rith in Minnesota. St. Paul Jews from German-speaking lands also felt a kinship with the growing German population of the city, joining their singing societies and social clubs.

After the Civil War, Jewish migration from Eastern Europe began. The first group arrived with both funds and skills but with different modes of worship. They established Sons of Jacob, incorporated in 1875, but often lived in the same neighborhood as the German Jews. The year 1882 began with the arrival by train of some 200 desperate refugees fleeing from the Russian Empire, who overwhelmed the resources of the Mount Zion Congregation. The city of St. Paul helped feed, clothe, and shelter them, and even the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis donated funds for their welfare. The population grew chiefly through chain migration as those newly settled sent back funds for their relatives. It was augmented through select migration through Galveston and aided by efforts of B'nai Brith members to find jobs for them. They found jobs as peddlers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, and tailors.

Immigrants settled in two neighborhoods near downtown, the West Side and Capitol City areas. Each had numerous Orthodox synagogues, European-style Talmud Torahs, and Socialist clubhouses, and each had a settlement house. In both cases, the houses were either founded or supported by women who were members of Mount Zion. St. Paul German Jews, in general, practiced benevolence at arm's length. Beginning in the 1910s, movement to middle class neighborhoods occurred. Here within a four block radius could be found a Jewish Community Center, a modern Talmud Torah, and the Reform and Conservative synagogues (Temple of Aaron, the city's first Conservative synagogue, was founded in 1912). A nearby commercial street supported kosher butcher shops and other ethnic commerce.

Although antisemitism was certainly not unknown, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, St. Paul's large Catholic community has generally accommodated Jewish participation in civic affairs. Housing restrictions and employment discrimination were not as severe as in Minneapolis.

The city's Jewish population did not truly unite until World War ii. It settled about 400 Displaced Persons after the war. Movement toward the western section of the city began in the 1940s and toward suburbs south of the Mississippi River in the 1960s. Voluntarism was strong during this era: St. Paul Section of National Council of Jewish Women (ncjw) 1964 project at McKinley School served as a model for the Head-start program. Russian-speaking immigrants began arriving in the 1970s and were well looked after by the community. During the 1960s, the Lubavitchers established a synagogue and later a day school. They also maintain Bais Chanah, established in 1971, which draws women from all over the world. The community founded a Jewish day school in 1982. Beth Jacob, a newer Conservative synagogue, was founded in 1985. Norman Coleman was the mayor of St. Paul before his election to the Senate.


Minneapolis's Jews did not establish a synagogue until 1878 although the city was incorporated in 1866. Shaarei Tov (later Temple Israel) was founded by German Jews who lived south of the downtown area near a chain of lakes. They evinced Reform practices as early as the 1880s. Although south Minneapolis had a Romanian Jewish neighborhood until the early 1950s, Eastern European Jews tended to settle on the north side of downtown. The area housed Jews from the 1880s through the 1950s. Interestingly, the same area contained public housing near the downtown section, built in the 1930s and one quarter of which was reserved for Jews, as well as mansions near the opposite end bordering the city limits. Jews of every economic stratum mixed in the public schools, Talmud Torah, and in neighborhood businesses.

The city's civic structure was tightly controlled by a group who had arrived from New England and who developed the city's industries, particularly that of flour milling. They were not hospitable to sharing power with the enormous Scandinavian population and certainly not with Jews. A few women of intellect were spared this treatment: Nina Morais Cohen, daughter of Rabbi Sabato Morais and wife of attorney Emanuel Cohen, was a founding member of the Women's City Club. She also founded the Minneapolis chapter of ncjw in 1894 and educated a cadre of women, even those of Eastern European origin.

It may be a result of this exclusion, or the long-term effects of a community unifier such as Rabbi Samuel Deinard, Lithuanian-born rabbi of Temple Israel, who attended services at Orthodox synagogues on the second day of Jewish holidays and preached in Yiddish, but the German and Eastern European Jews of Minneapolis coalesced more rapidly and created a strong infrastructure with the full panoply of Jewish institutions

Chief among these was the community-sponsored Minneapolis Talmud Torah, founded in 1894 and renowned for its early embrace of teaching Ivrit be-Ivrit and the number of students who became rabbis. Beth El (Conservative) Synagogue, founded in 1921 is also an offshoot of the Talmud Torah. The community also supported an orphanage for the temporary placement of children in need, a community center, Zionist and Socialist meeting halls, numerous synagogues, loan societies, and a Hachnosses Orchim. An Orthodox day school was founded in 1944 and a non-denominational day school in the 1980s. A number of these institutions were beneficiaries of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, founded in 1930 and representing all persuasions within the community.

Synagogues were established as well. Kenesseth Israel, founded in 1891 was the first Orthodox place of worship, and Adath Jeshurun became the first Conservative one in 1907. The city had at least seven other Orthodox synagogues.

It took a massive exposé in 1946 by journalist Cary Mc-Williams called, "Minneapolis: The Curious Twin" to call attention to the fact that while St. Paul Jews felt they were full civic participants, Minneapolis Jews endured many sorts of discrimination. Entire neighborhoods were "off limits" to Jewish home ownership; the city's major businesses did not hire Jews; organizations such as the Minneapolis Automobile and the Minneapolis Athletic Clubs, the Elks, Rotary, and Lions Clubs excluded Jews. Even the city's hospitals denied admitting privileges to Jewish physicians. One result was the building of Mount Sinai Hospital, which opened its doors in 1951. The election of Hubert Humphrey in 1945 and the formation of the Mayor's Council on Human Relations did effect a change when ordinances to ensure civil rights and discourage housing and job discrimination were passed.

The Jewish community settled about 800 Displaced Persons after World War ii. It was always hospitable to Zionism, and a number of Minneapolitans settled on Kibbutz Kefar Blum. The city has the distinction of being home to two national presidents of the National Council of Jewish Women. Fanny Brin served from 1932 to 1938 and throughout her life devoted herself to world disarmament issues. Viola Hymes was president during the early 1960s and also served on the President's Commission on the Status of Women.

The movement to the suburbs began earlier than in St. Paul. During the 1950s young families began purchasing homes in nearby St. Louis Park. Synagogues and a Jewish Community Center soon followed. The torching of North Side businesses during the late 1960s hastened Jewish flight. Since that time, Jews have continued to move both north and west of the city. Two new Reform congregations have also been founded, while the Lubavitch sect also gained adherents. The community has resettled between 4,000 and 6,000 Jews from the Former Soviet Union (fsu), who in 2004 made up 17 per cent of the Jewish population.

While the Jewish community is still vibrant, the 2004 Jewish population study found some worrisome features centered on integration of members of the fsu and intermarried couples.

Although the rivalry between the cities has abated, they still have separate Federation structures and accompanying beneficiary agencies, a mystery to outsiders. They jointly support institutions such as a middle school, Hillel on the University of Minnesota campus, the Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest. Rudy *Boschwitz was a U.S. senator and later an ambassador. He was defeated in the 1990 and 1996 Senate races by another Jew, Paul *Wellstone, who died in 2002 in a plane crash as he was running for reelection.


H. Berman and L.M. Schloff, Jews in Minnesota, (2002); L.M. Schloff, "And Prairie Dogs Weren't Kosher": Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest Since 1854 (1997); W.G. Plaut, The Jews in Minnesota-the First Seventy-Five Years (1959); A.I. Gordon, Jews in Transition, Twin Cities Jewish Population Study (2004).

[Linda M. Schloff (2nd ed.)]

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Minneapolis-St. Paul

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Minneapolis-St. Paul