Jewish communities across the country have become increasingly vigilant following anti-Semitic attacks in New York and New Jersey. In Minneapolis, a large gathering at Temple Israel represented an interfaith show of solidarity.
With a brief personal anecdote, Carin Mrotz expressed the unease that she and many other Jewish people are feeling amid an uptick in anti-Semitism. Mrotz learned recently that she was to receive national recognition for her work with Jewish Community Action in the Twin Cities. And that gave her pause.
“While I was absolutely ecstatic to have Minnesota represented on this list of mostly New York and D.C. names, I hesitated. Does this feel like a safe time to be an even more public Jew?”
But Mrotz is heartened by the fact that there’s widespread interest throughout Minnesota in learning about and stopping anti-Semitism. She was among more than a dozen community leaders, elected officials, and clergy who spoke Tuesday to a full house of 1,400.
Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman leads the congregation and said in times of change and uncertainty, Jews are often targeted first, and that hatred can metastasize quickly.
“Anti-Semitism is something that attacks the Jewish community but creates terror in every community. And so we are here to counteract not only anti-Semitism, but all hate,” the rabbi said.
Paul Gazelka, Minnesota’s Republican Senate majority leader and a Christian, noted that anti-Jewish attacks and rhetoric have been perpetrated by members of his own faith.
“I want to be vulnerable as a follower of Jesus that I’m deeply grieved that Christianity has been used at times over the centuries to persecute you,” Gazelka said. “I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive those people.”
DFL Gov. Tim Walz called on political leaders and educators to teach young people about how acts of violence — such as the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pennsylvania in 2018 — can start with hateful words and ideas.
“Strengthen the education in our schools to understand where hate comes from. Make sure that they understand that these are preventable. Make sure that there are distant early warnings that we can put in that stop it before we get to the point of a Pittsburgh or what happened in New York City or worse yet. That’s our responsibility,” the governor said.
While he didn’t mention a specific proposal, Walz also encouraged state lawmakers to strengthen Minnesota’s hate crime laws when the Legislature reconvenes next month.