The Kibbitzer – Summer 2023

An early Shana Tova – sending blessings for a joyous, healthy 5784. 
We are grateful for your friendship and support. Please contribute before August 31 to grow and sustain our momentum!

2023 Sidney Barrows Lifetime Commitment Award 

Steve Hunegs was awarded the 2023 Sidney Barrows Lifetime Commitment Award by the Twin Cities Cardozo Society. This honor is given annually to senior attorneys or judges in the Twin Cities who exemplify excellence in their practice, community service in the Jewish and general communities, and commitment to lifelong learning. Steve recieved the award alongside his friend and fellow Twins fan Alan Milavetz . Mazel Tov to Alan and JCRC board member Judah Druck , who received the 2023 Arthur T. Pfefer Memorial Award. 

Photo: Steve Hunegs, Dobie Hunegs (Steve’s mom), Bob Barrows (Sidney’s son), Dick Hunegs (Steve’s dad)


Power of Place Tour Brings 18 Holocaust Educators from 9 States to Europe

This July, Director of Holocaust Education Laura Zelle and Associate Director of Holocaust Education Susie Greenberg led our inaugural “Power of Place” tour for educators to experience the living history and impact of the Holocaust by exploring primary sites in Europe. Over nine days, our JCRC colleagues and local educators visited Regensburg’s Jewish Quarter, Nuremberg, Munich, Dachau Concentration Camp, Krakow’s Jewish Quarter, Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Oslo Jewish Museum, Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies, and Norway’s Resistance Museum.

With truth and facts under siege, antisemitism and extremism on the rise, visiting sites firsthand is an act of witnessing history. Educators returned to their home communities and classrooms invigorated by the experience. 

Thank you to the Minnesota Vikings Social Justice Committee for generously supporting the Holocaust educators’ tour.

Photos (by David Sherman Photography): (Top)Visiting Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp in Germany. (Bottom) Friends and supporters Christopher Worthley and Peter Lefkin of Allianz hosted our group for dinner in Munich. It was incredibly special for our supporters to meet our educator group.

JCRC Education reaches thousands

 From September 2022 to July 2023, JCRC educators completed over 500 presentations on Judaism, Israel, antisemitism, and the Holocaust, reaching over 16,000 participants, primarily students in grades 7 through 12. Teaching virtually enabled us to bring our Jewish story to classrooms at the western edge of North and South Dakota to Rotarians in Hudson, Wisconsin, and in Minnesota from Morris to Moose Lake. We also taught the Emma Gilbert scholars in Rehovot about Jewish life in Minnesota. 

The feedback we get is gratifying. Here is just one example of what we received after teaching students in an adult ESL class:

“Today was our last day of class and during reflection time, one of my students said that the one thing she will never forget from this year was your question, ‘Can we accept differences?’ It impacted her a great deal. Thank you for making a difference.” 

We once again brought over 190 participants to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.

Now completing its third year, The Letters Project continues to grow. A highlight of this year was being invited to the national conference of Israeli shlichim (emissaries) to provide Letters training. Since The Letters Project premiered in Spring 2020, it has been generously supported by a grant from an Anonymous Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation. We are thrilled that they are continuing to support this important program for another three years through a matching grant – every dollar raised will be matched by our donor, up to $35,000.  

The Letters Project is the 2023 recipient of Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Vivian Mann Excellence in Jewish Education Award.

Annual Event celebrated JCRC’s innovation, vitality

Our 2023 Annual Event brought over 500 guests together on a beautiful summer evening to the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, the Depot, where Senator Amy Klobuchar and Governor Tim Walz shared warm remarks about the vital importance of the work we do together. Thank you to our emcee Jonah Kaplan from WCCO-TV.

We also welcomed our keynote speaker, Dr. Dara Horn, a renowned Jewish American author and essayist, who captivated the audience with her expertise, perceptive humor, and passion for living Jewish lives. Dara praised our education, advocacy, security, and relationship-building work:

“ I haven’t seen anything like this anywhere else, but I think it should become standard practice across the United States.”

Photos (by Daryl Owens Photography): Gov. Tim Walz sits with Holocaust survivors Dora Zaidenweber and Eva Gross; keynote speaker Dara Horn and emcee Jonah Kaplan; Senator Amy Klobuchar

Training our community to enhance safety and security 

JCRC continues to offer free training for community members to learn and sharpen skills that make our communities safer. 
On June 28, JCRC offered a one-day Basic Threat Evaluation and Reporting Course (B-TERC). Local experts Jonathan Bundt and Captain Randy McAlister taught participants to assist in preventing acts of targeted violence by learning how to recognize and report concerning behaviors and intervention strategies to move individuals off a path to violence. 
JCRC will offer a similar training on Sunday, August 13 , as we do every year, in advance of the High Holidays.

Highlights from a historic 2023 legislative session 

  • Passed a mandate to teach about the Holocaust, Genocide of Indigenous Peoples, and Other Genocides’ Education;

  • Secured a fourth round of state funding for nonprofit security; 
  • Worked closely with our partners at JFCS to pass a two-year $1.8 million increase for ParentChild+;
  • Joined valued Jewish community partners in passing laws to better combat hate in Minnesota, reduce gun violence, and bar extremists from serving in law enforcement; and
  • Helped ensure that Sholom and other long-term care providers received urgently needed additional funding.
Photo: Holocaust survivor Dora Zaidenweber testified at a Minnesota house hearing in support of genocide education

JCRC leaders attend President Herzog’s speech to Congress 

Executive Director Steve Hunegs and President Jon Parritz were honored to be among the Minnesotans invited to attend Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s speech to a joint session of Congress in July as the guests of Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Angie Craig (respectively).

The strong bi-partisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship reflects the depth of our connection as the JCRC of Minnesota and the Dakotas – historically, today, and into the future.

Photo: Steve Hunegs, Brad Birnberg, Jon Parritz, and Daniel Rosen


Upcoming Israel Study Tour, November 2023

This November, JCRC will run our fourth Israel Study Tour for state legislators and community leaders since 2016 and our first since the pandemic. We are very excited about our diverse, bipartisan delegation, which includes Jews, Christians, and Muslims. As always, we will be guided by the amazing Muki Jankelowitz. We look forward to experiencing Israel in all of its beauty and complexities with our fellow Minnesotans.


Experience Israel with Minneapolis Jewish Federation

In April, JCRC leaders had the privilege and pleasure of traveling with 240 fellow Minnesotans for the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s “Experience Israel” trip to celebrate Israel at 75. Joining Steve from the JCRC was Deputy Executive Director Ethan Roberts, our Directors of Judaism and Israel Education, Sally Abrams and Holly Brod Farber, our board Vice Presidents Jacy Grais and Rhona Shwaid, and our board Secretary Aklilu Dunlap.

Trip highlights included a moving Yom HaShoah commemoration with former Ambassador Michael Oren , a private dinner and concert in the desert for our delegation, and a warm address from Minnesota native Ambassador Tom Nides who was as enthusiastic about his love for Minnesota as he was passionate about Israel.

Participants for the trip ranged in age from my daughter Dinah, who celebrated a most memorable 21st birthday while we were there, to former Senator Rudy Boschwitz. Many had been to Israel several times before or had even lived there, while for dozens of others, this was their first time or first trip in decades.

Experiencing Israel with such a broad spectrum of Minnesotans was remarkable. Much credit to Kara Rosenwald, Eilat Harel, Jim Cohen, the co-chairs, and the team at the Minneapolis Jewish Federation for successfully pulling off such an ambitious trip.

Photo: Jacy Grais, Jodi Upin, Rhona Shwaid, Holly Brod Farber, Aklilu Dunlap, Sally Abrams, Steve Hunegs, and Ethan Roberts

Author Samuel Freedman speaks on new Hubert Humphrey book

Columnist, award-winning author, and professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Samuel Freedman spoke to the JCRC Director’s Circle about his new book rich with Minneapolis (and even some JCRC) history: Into the Bright Sunshine: Young Hubert Humphrey and the Fight for Civil Rights (2023).
Our guests had the opportunity to hear his insights about Hubert Humphrey and the impact of his seminal speech 75 years ago at the 1948 Democratic National Convention on the Democratic Party and American history. 

Mourning Gary Tankenoff, z’’l

The JCRC mourns the loss of our dear friend, community leader, and philanthropist Gary Tankenoff, z’’l,  whose life, family, and work centered around dedication to the  kehillot of the Twin Cities, Tucson, and far beyond. One of Gary’s most enduring passions was supporting Holocaust education. Gary was profoundly moved by the presence and lives of the many  Shoah  survivors who came to live in Minnesota. Gary wanted everyone, especially young people, to learn lessons from the Holocaust. 



JCRC News: Moving to BFC and Staff Spotlight 

After 20+ years, JCRC will be leaving downtown Minneapolis for new office space at the Barry Family Campus. We are excited to join so many wonderful colleagues and community partners who spend their days at BFC and are eager to contribute to the vibrant intergenerational Jewish atmosphere that exists there. 

Staff Spotlight: We are pleased to welcome Nina Afremov as our new Development and Annual Event Coordinator. Nina began her work with us in April after working in the Development and Membership Department at the Minnesota Historical Society. She is a 2022 graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Technical Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in Russian Studies. Nina gratefully spent much of her time as a student attending events and study groups at the U of M Chabad and Minnesota Hillel.

Photos: JCRC staff at the 2023 Annual Event and new staff member Nina Afremov

Media Highlights

Star Tribune 
Minnesota Reformer 
TC Jewfolk


As the consensus public affairs voice of the Jewish community, JCRC builds relationships to fight antisemitism and bigotry; educates about Judaism, Israel, antisemitism, and the Holocaust; advocates for Jewish values and priorities; and safeguards our community.