A Brief History
Decades ago, Jews in the Upper Midwest were excluded from much of American life. Many employers would not hire Jews, some communities were closed to Jews, and even some restaurants wouldn’t serve Jews. In fact, notable essayist Carey McWilliams proclaimed in 1946 “Minneapolis is the capitol of anti-Semitism in the United States. In almost every walk of life, ‘an iron curtain’ separates Jews from non-Jews in Minneapolis.”
Groups whose sole purpose was anti-Semitism, abounded in the 1930s and 40s. One of the largest was the Silver Shirts, who marched through the streets and published newsletters filled with hatred toward Jews.
Today, the mission of protecting the Jewish community is alive within the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. Its immediate predecessor, founded by Samuel Scheiner in 1939, participated in the great transformation of attitudes toward the Jewish community and other minorities. Highlights include JCRC advocacy for fair housing and employment practices in the late 1940s, the principles of which were embodied in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The JCRC advocated for Israel after the Jewish state was created in 1948 and did advocacy work on behalf of Soviet Jews in the 1960s and 1970s.
The advocacy continues today, along with wonderful inclusive, interactive and informative programs for children, students, adults, members of the Jewish community and other faith communities, and many other people in the general community.