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How Jews Have Shaped the State

From Exclusion to Integration: The Story of Jews in Minnesota

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Black and white photograph of children attending a child's birthday party c.1912.

Children attending a child's birthday party in Virginia, c.1912.

Poverty, prejudice, and persecution sparked two waves of Jewish immigration to the United States in the nineteenth century. The first wave (1820–1880) consisted of about 250,000 Jews from German-speaking regions of central Europe, fewer than one thousand of whom made their way to Minnesota. The second and largest wave (1882–1924) was made up of more than two million Yiddish-speaking Jews from Eastern Europe. About twenty thousand settled in Minnesota. Subsequent waves—refugees from Hitler’s Europe (1940s and 1950s) and Russian immigrants (1970s and 1980s)—built upon the earlier arrivals’ contributions to Minnesota’s businesses, politics, professions, arts, and culture.

The first wave: German Jews

St. Croix Valley fur trader Maurice Mordecai Samuel was among the first Jews to arrive in Minnesota in the late 1840s. Other German and Central European Jews who had earned their living as peddlers elsewhere in the United States soon followed, attracted by commercial opportunities in the growing Minnesota Territory. German Jewish peddlers-turned-merchants could be found in market towns throughout the state by the 1880s.

In the 1850s, the German Jewish migrants who had accumulated capital started businesses and lived in St. Paul’s Lowertown district. Dry goods, liquor, and furs were among the commodities they sold. Two of their shops, Mannheimer Brothers and the Golden Rule, grew into large department stores. In 1856, eight St. Paul families founded the first Jewish organization in Minnesota, Mount Zion Temple.

Jews began to settle in Minneapolis around 1865. The shops they founded along Washington Avenue supplied workers in the city’s thriving lumber industry with ready-made clothing and dry goods. As they had in St. Paul, Minneapolis Jews lived and worshipped near their places of business. The small Minneapolis Jewish community consisted of fewer than two hundred people by 1877.

The Montefiore Burial Association—the first Jewish institution in Minneapolis— was founded in 1876 by German Jews. Two years later, the same group finally founded a synagogue, Shaarai Tov (later renamed Temple Israel).

The second wave: refugees from Eastern Europe

The earliest Eastern European immigrants in the Twin Cities initially settled in the same neighborhoods as their German coreligionists. They spoke a different language, Yiddish, and followed different religious and social practices. The Eastern European peddlers and small merchants set up their own synagogues: Sons of Jacob (1869) in St. Paul and Adath Jeshurun (1884) in Minneapolis.

On July 14, 1882, two hundred impoverished Eastern European Jews arrived unexpectedly at the St. Paul train station. Their appearance marked the beginning of the second, and largest, wave of Jewish migration to Minnesota, consisting of émigrés from the Russian Empire, Austria-Hungary, and Romania.

The established German Jewish community immediately came to the newcomers’ aid. There were only one thousand or so Jews living in the entire state in 1882, so caring for the refugees, who numbered six hundred by the year’s end, was a major task.

There was an ambivalent quality to this aid. On one hand, the German Jews were motivated by genuine benevolence and long-standing religious tradition. A key example is Neighborhood House, a settlement house founded by the women of Mount Zion in 1897 on the West Side Flats, where many of the Russian Jewish immigrants first settled. On the other hand, the established German Jewish community feared that the foreign dress and customs of the Eastern Europeans would cause an anti-Semitic backlash that would transfer to them.

As immigrants from Eastern Europe continued to arrive, they formed their own Jewish community, parallel to that of the established German Jews. As some emerged from economic dependency, they created their own social welfare groups, including the Jewish Home for the Aged (1907); Sholom Residence (1918); and the Jewish Sheltering Home for Children (1918). By the end of World War II, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth each maintained a community-wide social service agency and federated community-fundraising organization.

Outside the Twin Cities

Jews also settled outside the Twin Cities. The largest community was in Duluth, where the first permanent Jewish settlers arrived in 1869. Another decade passed before a significant number of Jews joined them. German and Central European Jews came first, followed a decade later by the Eastern Europeans. The small size of Duluth's Jewish population helped prevent a community split.

Duluth (and its sister community, Superior, Wisconsin) thrived as a commercial center after the Mesabi Iron Range opened in the 1890s. Jews originally from Lithuania founded Adas Israel Congregation in 1885. Hungarian and German Jews formed a Reform synagogue, Temple Emmanuel, in 1891. Duluth’s West End, between Twelfth and Twenty-fourth Avenues (later the Central Hillside neighborhood), became home to the Eastern European group.

Jewish Duluthians were integrated into the economic and public life of the city. By the end of World War I, the Jewish population of Duluth was twenty-three hundred. It reached its height in the 1930s, with about thirty-five hundred people. During this era, Duluth supported four synagogues, two cemeteries, charitable organizations, a Talmud Torah, three social clubs, and four lodges. By 1940, Duluth’s Jewish population had declined to 2,633.

In the 1890s, some Duluth–Superior Jews moved to the Iron Range to found retail and other businesses that served the booming region’s mining towns. Though small in numbers (1,112 at their peak in 1920), Iron Range Jews supported a vibrant Jewish community for decades. Synagogues were founded in Eveleth, Hibbing, Virginia, and Chisholm.

Small Jewish communities arose at the turn of the twentieth century in several southern Minnesota towns, including Faribault, Mankato, Albert Lea, and Austin. In each, Jews gathered for religious purposes. Only in Rochester, where the founding of the Mayo Clinic in 1905 created a need for a local congregation that could serve Jewish patients, was a synagogue (B’nai Israel), established.

The dispersion of Jews throughout the state reached a peak in the 1920s. Some four thousand were counted in 145 small towns outside of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth at the end of World War I.

Twin Cities neighborhoods

By 1910, St. Paul’s three major Jewish residential areas were home to between forty-five hundred and five thousand of Minnesota’s total Jewish population of thirteen thousand. The older, more prosperous, and largely German families lived in the downtown area; some had begun to move to the Summit Hill neighborhood.

The Eastern Europeans lived in two areas of St. Paul. One enclave was east of the state capitol, home to the Sons of Jacob synagogue, founded by Polish Jews. The other was the ten-block-square West Side Flats. By end of 1880s, the Flats had three small Orthodox synagogues; by 1900, there were three more.

As their economic standing improved, the Eastern Europeans left the flood-prone Flats for the Selby–Dale neighborhood. From the remnants of the small Flats congregations arose Temple of Aaron (1911). The temple’s first home at Ashland Avenue and Grotto Street was two blocks from Mount Zion, which had left Lowertown in 1901 for a new home at Holly Avenue and Avon Street, just off Summit Avenue.

Three Hebrew schools were founded in St. Paul between 1880 and 1920. Each had its own constituency and neighborhood. Not until 1956 did they merge to become the Talmud Torah of St. Paul.

Early on, Neighborhood House and other settlement houses deemphasized their Jewish focus. The St. Paul Jewish community recognized the need for a Jewish community center as early as 1916. After years of fundraising, the Jewish Education Center, forerunner of the Jewish Community Center of St. Paul (JCC), opened in 1930 in the Summit Hill neighborhood.

As Minneapolis boomed and overtook St. Paul in overall population, so did the Jewish population of Minneapolis. From a small group of five hundred individuals in 1880, the community grew tenfold to approximately five thousand by 1900.

By 1915, the earliest settlers and their synagogues, Temple Israel and Adath Jeshurun, were moving west from their original downtown neighborhood toward Lyndale and Hennepin Avenues and the Chain of Lakes. Newer arrivals primarily from Romania concentrated in the Elliot Park area of South Minneapolis. The neighborhood contained a handful of synagogues and religious schools, the South Side Neighborhood House, and Jewish-owned stores. The South Side’s population remained stable until the 1940s.

The largest and best-known Jewish neighborhood was Minneapolis’ North Side. Through World War II, North Minneapolis had the largest concentration of Jews in the Upper Midwest between Chicago and Denver. Eleven Orthodox synagogues, including Kenesseth Israel, Mikro Kodesh, Tifereth B’nai Jacob, Sharai Zedeck, and Gemelus Chesed, were founded there between 1884 and 1905.

North Side children came together in one institution to learn their Jewish heritage. The Talmud Torah of Minneapolis evolved from Old World-style methods into a modern, coeducational school.

Jewish institutions continued to spring up on the North Side, including the Emmanuel Cohen Center (forerunner of the Sabes Jewish Community Center, the Labor Lyceum, and Beth El Synagogue). By the 1920s, however, the immigrant-era neighborhood had become a slum. First-generation synagogues and the homes of 126 poor Jewish families were among the structures razed between 1936 and 1938 to create the New Deal-funded Sumner Field housing development.

Community integration and the challenge of anti-Semitism

Efforts by community leaders coupled with sociological forces began to break down the German–Eastern European divide within the Twin Cities Jewish communities by the time of World War I. Among the efforts was the Anglo-Jewish newspaper the Jewish Weekly (forerunner of the American Jewish World), founded in 1912 by Rabbi Samuel Deinard.

The Zionist movement, which affirmed the need for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, was another mechanism for community integration. Initially, support for Zionism in the Jewish community was split along Orthodox-Reform lines. Deinard’s advocacy of Zionism in the pages of the American Jewish World and from the pulpit of his Reform congregation helped bridge the divide. By the end of World War I, virtually all Minnesota Jews supported Zionism and enthusiastically joined local and national Zionist organizations. The largest of these was the national women’s group Hadassah, which had chapters in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Chisholm. Generations of Minnesota youth attended the Zionist Herzl Camp, near Webster, Wisconsin, after its founding in 1946.

Anti-Semitism, racism, and anti-Catholicism were on the rise throughout the United States in the 1920s. The advent of the Great Depression began a decade of intense discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations for Minnesota’s Jews. The situation was most acute in Minneapolis, where Jews were almost totally excluded from civic and social organizations. In St. Paul, circumstances for Jews were less dire.

The roots of the contrast between the two cities can be found in their early histories. Jews arrived in St. Paul simultaneously with other settlers. From the outset, Jews were knit into the fabric of the city’s economic and civic life. In Minneapolis, Jews were among those groups who arrived after its major industries were established by self-sufficient New Englanders, who set the tone of exclusivity and discrimination that was perpetuated by other non-Jewish residents of Minneapolis.

Anti-Semitism was used as a political weapon during the 1930s. Jews supported and advised governors Floyd B. Olson and Elmer A. Benson of the Farmer Labor Party. In the 1938 governor’s race, opponents conducted an organized anti-Semitic campaign to defeat Benson, the incumbent.

The 1938 campaign prompted statewide anti-defamation groups to merge into the Anti-Defamation Council of Minnesota. (In 1959 the group was renamed the Jewish Community Relations Council.) Mount Sinai Hospital in Minneapolis, which opened in 1951, was a Jewish-sponsored, non-sectarian hospital founded as a direct result of Jewish doctors’ exclusion from the staffs of Twin Cities private hospitals.

Journalist Carey McWilliams’s 1946 investigation of anti-Semitism in the Twin Cities coined a phrase that stuck to describe Minneapolis: “the capital of anti-Semitism in the United States.” The unfavorable publicity that followed pressured Minneapolis officials, goaded by newly elected mayor Hubert Humphrey, to enact antidiscrimination ordinances. State measures followed.

Ordinances and laws, educational efforts, and Jewish community vigilance led to a decline in overt acts of public anti-Semitism. One measure of declining prejudice was Jewish success at the polls. Arthur Naftalin was elected as Minneapolis’ first (and, to date, only) Jewish mayor (1961–1969), and Lawrence Cohen was St. Paul’s first Jewish mayor (1972–1976). Private attitudes persisted, however, and individual Jews continued to experience more “discreet” expressions of anti-Semitism for decades.

Upward mobility and the move to suburbia

Hard work, acculturation, and a focus on education as a means of uplift for the second generation led to a decline in blue-collar employment in the Jewish community in the postwar era. As late as 1947, almost half of Minneapolis Jews worked blue-collar jobs. By 1971, only 8.8 percent of Minneapolis Jews were classified as working class. Educational levels and median incomes were higher for Jews than their Hennepin County neighbors.

Some of the post-war blue-collar workers were recently arrived displaced persons (DPs)—survivors of the Nazi Holocaust who began arriving in Minnesota in the late 1940s. By 1952, 269 families, consisting of about eight hundred individuals, had settled in Minneapolis, 168 families (365 people) in St. Paul, 28 families in Duluth, and a smaller number in other parts of the state. Many prospered.

Like other middle class Americans, Jewish GIs and their new families aspired to move to the suburbs. The gradual lifting of restrictive housing covenants and socio-economic upward mobility meant the end, within two decades, of the self-contained, cohesive Jewish immigrant neighborhoods.

For example, as late as 1949, 60 percent of Minneapolis’s roughly twenty-three thousand Jews lived on the North Side. Ten years later, the North Side was home to only 38 percent of Minneapolis Jewry, while 28 percent had moved to suburban St. Louis Park.

The first congregation to make the move from Minneapolis to St. Louis Park was South Minneapolis’ B’nai Abraham, in 1956. In the early 1960s, others followed. Volatile summers of racial unrest on Plymouth Avenue in 1967 and 1968 spurred the remaining Jewish institutions in North Minneapolis to close or move. Two North Side synagogues joined with B’nai Abraham in 1972 to form a new congregation, B’nai Emet.

In the postwar era, young St. Paul families moved from the Summit Hill neighborhood to the newly developed Highland Park neighborhood. As they did, the community’s center of gravity shifted. Temple of Aaron Synagogue, the St. Paul JCC, and Talmud Torah moved to Highland Park in the mid-1950s. When the time came for the venerable Mount Zion Temple to construct a new building after World War II, however, it did not choose to move to Highland Park. Instead, the congregation erected a new facility on Summit Avenue, just blocks from its old one, in 1954.

In Duluth, upward mobility led to outmigration to larger cities and other states. Duluth Jews built a Jewish Education Center in 1951 at the corner of East Second Street and Sixteenth Avenue. The Center was the home to the Ida Cook Hebrew School and social activities. In 1970, Duluth’s Jewish population was 1,100—less than half of what it was thirty years earlier. In 1973, the city’s Jewish federation recommended that all of Duluth’s Jewish groups consolidate in the Center. Temple Israel, one of two synagogues remaining in Duluth, did so. The other, Adas Israel, stayed put.

Immigration, identity, and continuity

Jewish communal and fraternal organizations saw high rates of participation in the 1950s and 1960s. Synagogue membership was widespread. As late as 1971–1972, 88 percent of Jewish adults in Minneapolis identified themselves with one of three movements: Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform.

A third wave of Jewish immigration to Minnesota began in 1971 and continued into the late 1980s. This group, from the Soviet Union, was permitted to emigrate after years of refusal. The breakup of the Soviet Union in 1989 brought more immigrants. By 2000, Jews from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) made up approximately 10 percent of Minnesota’s Jewish population.

At the same time the Jewish community worked to integrate Russian Jews, it also struggled to retain the American-born. Population studies conducted in 1995 and 2004 showed declining levels of synagogue membership and increasing rates of intermarriage. In 1994, the Minneapolis Jewish Federation created the Commission on Jewish Identity and Continuity to ensure that the next generation of Jews would maintain a commitment to the Jewish community.

Reform and Conservative synagogues strove to become more inclusive for women, intermarried couples, and, eventually, gays and lesbians. The path was not always smooth. The genesis of Shir Tikvah Congregation (1988) was a dispute at Mount Zion Temple over the homosexuality of Associate Rabbi Stacy Offner, the first woman rabbi in Minnesota. New non-Orthodox congregations founded in the 1980s and 1990s included Bet Shalom (Reform), Beth Jacob (Conservative), Or Emet (Humanistic), and Mayim Rabim (Reconstructionist).

The era’s trend toward liberalism and secularization was countered by new energy in the small Orthodox community. Two new St. Louis Park congregations, Bais Yisroel and Darchei Noam (2000), provided alternatives to Kenesseth Israel (Minneapolis’ oldest Orthodox synagogue) and Adath Israel (St. Paul). About two hundred Minnesota families belonged to the Chabad-Lubavitcher Hasidic movement in the early 2000s. Hasidism is a branch of Orthodox Judaism whose spirituality is based in Jewish mysticism. In 2015, Chabad maintained six centers in the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, and Fargo, North Dakota.

The 2004 population study of Twin Cities Jews portrayed a relatively stable community of forty thousand. Almost half were locally born—well above the average for American cities. Significant levels of poverty coexisted with wealth, particularly among immigrants from the FSU. One finding—that 36 percent of Jews surveyed declined to identify with a movement and selected “just Jewish”—attracted much attention within the community. Twin Cities results for this answer ranked seventh highest among fifty comparison American Jewish communities.

Twenty-first-century unaffiliated Jews, as well as those already firmly identified, have new options beyond the synagogue. Organizations such as Jewish Community Action, Rimon, and TCJewfolk.com empower Jews to maintain their identity through social action, arts and entertainment, adult education, and spirituality. At the same time, Minnesota Jews are firmly integrated into the economic, civic, and cultural life of the state.

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Berman, Hyman, and Linda Mack Schloff. Jews in Minnesota. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002.

Chiat, Marilyn. “Synagogues of Minnesota: Place and Space.” Text of a talk given at Bet Shalom Congregation, Minnetonka, May 24, 2005. Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives, Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

——— , and Chester Proshan. We Rolled Up Our Sleeves: A History of the United Jewish Fund and Council and Its Beneficiary Agencies. St. Paul: United Jewish Fund and Council of Saint Paul, 1985.

Conver, Thelma C. “The New Wilderness: Building the Jewish Community in Duluth, Minnesota 1870–1975.” Typescript, 1975.

Diamond, Jeff. “Twin Cities Jewish Community.” Mpls (November 1975): 35–42.

Gordon, Albert I. Jews in Transition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1949.

Latz, Robert. Jews in Minnesota Politics: The Inside Stories. Minneapolis: Nodin Press, 2007.

Nathanson, Iric. “The Curious Twin” and “Plymouth Avenue is Burning.” In Minneapolis in the Twentieth Century: The Growth of an American City, 93–134. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2010.

Plaut, Gunther. The Jews in Minnesota: The First Seventy-Five Years. New York: American Jewish Historical Society, 1959.

Proshan, Chester Jay. “Eastern European Jewish Immigrants and Their Children on the Minnesota Iron Range, 1890s–1980s.” PhD diss., University of Minnesota, 1998.

Schloff, Linda Mack. “And Prairie Dogs Weren’t Kosher”: Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest Since 1855. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1996.

——— . Jewish Historical Society of Upper Midwest. “Minnesota Jewry at 150.”
http://www.jhsum.org/?s=Minnesota+Jewry+at+150

——— . “Kosher with a Modern Tinge: Two Generations of Jewish Women in Virginia, Minnesota, 1894–1945.” In The State We’re In: Reflections on Minnesota History, 102–117. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 105.

——— . “Overcoming Geography: Jewish Religious Life in Four Market Towns.” Minnesota History 51, no. 1 (Spring 1988): 3–14.
http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/51/v51i01p002-014.pdf

——— , and Phil Freshman, eds. North Side Memories: An Oral History of Minnesota’s Largest Jewish Neighborhood. Upper Midwest Jewish History 2 (Fall 2000).

——— , ed. Who Knew?: Stories Unearthed from the Archives. Upper Midwest Jewish History 6 (Fall 2011).

Sheskin, Ira M. 2004 Minneapolis Summary Report of the Twin Cities Jewish Population Study. Minneapolis: Minneapolis Jewish Federation, 2005. http://www.jewishdatabank.org/studies/downloadFile.cfm?FileID=2204

University of Minnesota, Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center. Cornerstones: A History of North Minneapolis.
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Weber, Laura. “‘Gentiles Preferred’: Minneapolis Jews and Employment 1920–1950.” Minnesota History 52, no. 5 (Spring 1991): 166–182.
http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/52/v52i05p166-182.pdf

Related Images

Black and white photograph of children attending a child's birthday party c.1912.
Black and white photograph of children attending a child's birthday party c.1912.
Black and white photograph of the first Mount Zion building c.1881.
Black and white photograph of the first Mount Zion building c.1881.
Shofar used at Mount Zion Hebrew Association
Shofar used at Mount Zion Hebrew Association
Black and white photograph of Temple Israel, Minneapolis, c.1916.
Black and white photograph of Temple Israel, Minneapolis, c.1916.
Black and white photograph of Samuel Deinard.
Black and white photograph of Samuel Deinard.
Black and white photograph of members of the Minneapolis Workmen's Circle, c.1920.
Black and white photograph of members of the Minneapolis Workmen's Circle, c.1920.
Black and white photograph of a service at the Jewish Home for the Aged in St. Paul, c.1925.
Black and white photograph of a service at the Jewish Home for the Aged in St. Paul, c.1925.
Black and white photograph of a Hebrew class held at St. Paul's Jewish Educational Center in 1931.
Black and white photograph of a Hebrew class held at St. Paul's Jewish Educational Center in 1931.
Black and white photograph of Emanuel Cohen Girl Scout Troop 140, Minneapolis, 1944.
Black and white photograph of Emanuel Cohen Girl Scout Troop 140, Minneapolis, 1944.
Photograph taken at the bar mitzvah of Leland Fleisher at Adath Jeshurun Synagogue in Minneapolis.
Photograph taken at the bar mitzvah of Leland Fleisher at Adath Jeshurun Synagogue in Minneapolis.
Black and white photograph of Young Judea convention at Sons of Jacob.
Black and white photograph of Young Judea convention at Sons of Jacob.
Black and white photograph of three children attending a Passover seder at the St. Paul Talmud Torah, 1960. The children are Susan Hoffman, Lisa Savitt, and Scott Zuckman.
Black and white photograph of three children attending a Passover seder at the St. Paul Talmud Torah, 1960. The children are Susan Hoffman, Lisa Savitt, and Scott Zuckman.
Black and white photograph of Mount Sinai Hospital, 1962.
Black and white photograph of Mount Sinai Hospital, 1962.
Black and white photograph of campers cooking outdoors at Dick Butwin Day Camp, 1967.
Black and white photograph of campers cooking outdoors at Dick Butwin Day Camp, 1967.
Black-and-white photograph of Temple of Aaron's 1968 confirmation class.
Black-and-white photograph of Temple of Aaron's 1968 confirmation class.
Black and white photograph of Hibbing's Agudath Achim Synagogue taken in August of 1972.
Black and white photograph of Hibbing's Agudath Achim Synagogue taken in August of 1972.
Color photograph of Rabbi Stacy Offner with a congregant of Shir Tikvah Synagogue.
Color photograph of Rabbi Stacy Offner with a congregant of Shir Tikvah Synagogue.
Color image of B’nai Israel Synagogue and Dan Abraham Cultural Center, c.2013.
Color image of B’nai Israel Synagogue and Dan Abraham Cultural Center, c.2013.

Overview

German Jews—among Minnesota’s earliest European American arrivals—settled in St. Paul in the 1850s.

Eastern European Jews who arrived between 1882 and 1924 made up the second wave of Jewish immigration to Minnesota.

Urban enclaves in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth attracted and retained the majority of Minnesota’s Jewish immigrants.

Economic opportunity created Jewish communities in small towns in southeastern Minnesota and the Iron Range in the early and mid-twentieth century.

Conscious efforts by community leaders, coupled with sociological and political forces such as support for Zionism, began to break down the German–Eastern European divide within the Twin Cities Jewish communities by the start of World War I.

Discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in the 1930s was so acute that Minneapolis was dubbed “the capital of anti-Semitism in the United States” in 1946.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, some thirteen hundred displaced persons (DPs)—survivors of the Nazi Holocaust—were resettled in Minnesota.

Beginning in the early 1950s, Jewish Twin Cities neighborhoods emptied as their residents built new communities in the suburbs.

A third wave of Jewish immigrants, this time from the Soviet Union, began in 1971 and continued into the late 1980s.

Rising rates of intermarriage and lower rates of synagogue and Jewish organization affiliation led to concerns about communal continuity in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Chronology

1856

Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul is the first Jewish organization founded in Minnesota.

1869

Duluth’s first permanent Jewish settlers arrive.

1876

A group of German Jews that had founded the Montefiore Burial Association, the first Jewish institution in Minneapolis, founds the city’s first synagogue, Shaarai Chesed (renamed Temple Israel in 1920).

1891

Temple Emanuel, Duluth’s first Jewish congregation, is founded.

1904

Rabbi Samuel Deinard of Temple Israel in Minneapolis founds the first of four weekly newspapers aimed at the Jewish communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

1910

Rochester’s first synagogue, Hebrew Congregation of Rochester (later B’nai Israel) forms.

1910–1911

Local branches of the radical Yiddish cultural group the Workmen’s Circle are established in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth.

1920

The Jewish population of the Iron Range peaks at 1,112 individuals living in eighteen towns.

1936

The Anti-Defamation Council of Minnesota, an informal organization dedicated to investigating the state's pro-fascist climate, is formed.

1946

Herzl Camp, a Zionist program designed to attract campers from across the Midwest, is founded.

1951

Mount Sinai Hospital, planned by the Jewish community, opens to the public.

1956

B’nai Abraham becomes the first synagogue to move from Minneapolis to suburban St. Louis Park.

1978

Rudy Boschwitz (R) is elected to the U. S. Senate, marking the beginning of four decades of continuous Jewish representation in Minnesota’s Senate delegation.

1984

Stacy Offner of St. Paul’s Mount Zion Temple becomes the first woman rabbi to serve a pulpit in Minnesota.

Mid-1990s

The last synagogue on the Iron Range, Virginia's B'nai Abraham, closes. In 1994, the building becomes a community cultural center.

2014

The Twin Cities is home to forty thousand of Minnesota’s Jewish population of 45,635—less than 1 percent of the state’s total population.