Continuing Mount Sinai’s legacy

In February 1951, within a climate of local anti-Semitism, Mount Sinai Hospital opened its doors at the corner of Chicago Avenue and 22nd Street in Minneapolis. The hospital — described in the AJW as “a house of healing for all mankind” — was a gift from the Twin Cities Jewish community to serve and employ, among others, those not accepted elsewhere because of their race or religion.

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Rescuing art from the Third Reich: ‘The Monuments Men’ author Robert Edsel to speak at Holocaust remembrance program

In February, Columbia Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox released The Monuments Men, which was written and directed by George Clooney.Clooney also starred in the film as Frank Stokes, a member of a military unit during World War II that was tasked with protecting artistic masterpieces from damage during battle, as well as finding and rescuing pieces looted by the Nazis.“You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back,” Stokes says in the film. “But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants and that’s exactly what we are fighting for.”Robert Edsel: Sept. 12 at Temple IsraelThe film was based on Robert Edsel’s book titled The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. Edsel will be the featured speaker for Temple Israel’s seventh annual Holocaust Remembrance Program on Sept. Continue Reading

Restoring the North Side — one house at a time

In 1921, Lithuanian immigrant Max J. Kaplan was a successful produce supplier in Minneapolis, delivering fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms to local grocery stores. He enlisted the services of architects Tyrie and Chapman to build a grand home for his family – his wife and three children – at 1045 Washburn Ave. N., in the Homewood neighborhood on the Jewish North Side.

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Shoah survivor Henryk Gurman dies at 89

In a 1991 paper for a humanities class at Lakewood Community College (now Century College), Henryk Gurman wrote: “I am a Polish Jew, a survivor of the Holocaust era, who grew up in the shadow of Hitler’s rise to power. I committed several symbolic suicides in my life concealing and denying my identity as a person.”

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A Jewish woman’s life on the prairie: Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company presents a one-woman show detailing the harsh realities of North Dakota life in the 1890s

“When I look back, it amazes me that I moved to the one place on earth colder than Russia: North Dakota.”— Rachel Calof When a docent at the Autry National Center’s Museum of the American West in Los Angeles came across a copy of Rachel Calof’s Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains (Indiana University Press), she immediately thought of her friend, actress Kate Fuglei.“She said, ‘I picked up this book and I could not put it down. I read it in one sitting.’ I got the book and I had the exact same experience,” Fuglei told the AJW. “It’s not just the story, which is very captivating, but [Calof] has such a unique voice, and she has such humor and irony and intelligence and depth of understanding… I immediately thought it would make a wonderful stage piece.”Rachel Calof’s memoir, originally written in Yiddish in the 1930s, describes her life in great detail — from a harsh childhood in Russia and immigrating to America at the age of 18, to spending 20 years on the North Dakota prairie with her husband before moving to St. Paul.Fuglei and her husband, writer Ken LaZebnik, spent several years adapting Calof’s memoir into a one-woman show. The Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (MJTC) is now presenting the resulting production, Rachel Calof: A Memoir with Music, through Aug. Continue Reading

Twin Cities Jewish community task force assesses how it helps those dealing with Alzheimer’s disease

In 2007, a small group of community members who were caring for parents with dementia approached Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis (JFCS) for help in organizing support and educational opportunities for others dealing with similar experiences.“They had formed their own little informal group of support and they went to JFCS and said, ‘We want to institutionalize something in the Jewish community for people who need support who are caring for someone in their family who has Alzheimer’s disease,’” said Chris Rosenthal, the senior services director at Jewish Family Service of St. Paul. “So Betsy Sitkoff, from JFCS, pulled together some people throughout the community and said, ‘What can we do?’”That initial request launched the Twin Cities Jewish Community Alzheimer’s Disease Task Force, of which Rosenthal serves as co-chair with Annette Sandler, the aging and disability services director at JFCS. Its mission is to guide Jewish agencies, organizations and synagogues to provide education, support and programming regarding memory loss for the Jewish community.Now the task force — which also includes representatives of Sholom, the St. Paul JCC, the Mount Zion Temple Caring Community and committed caregivers — has been asked to participate as a pilot community with ACT on Alzheimer’s, a statewide collaboration to prepare for the budgetary, social and personal impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.According to statistics, 100,000 people in Minnesota — and one in eight people older than 65 — live with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, whether or not it has been diagnosed. Continue Reading