MacGyvering a Mensch: Your Guide to Connecting to Minneapolis’ Jewish Community

Jon Minnick is a senior communications specialist at the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. In his spare time, he likes to grow ironic mustaches, travel, and participate in shenanigans. This is the first in a series of monthly columns to share what’s happening in our community and help you become a part of it.
There was a time when Richard Dean Anderson and I had little in common. You don’t know me yet, but that statement should still make you a little sad. Because, let’s be honest, everyone wants to be like MacGyver, his ’80s TV character famous for using ordinary items in an extraordinary fashion. As fate would have it, my mother wouldn’t even let me grow the rattail I desperately wanted, making a glorious, unapologetic mullet like RDA’s a pipe dream. (In retrospect, thanks Mom. Really. THANKS.) As Justin Bieber would have it, it takes more than hair to come between a young boy and his dreams.
Admittedly, in many aspects, I’m more like Saturday Night Live’s bumbling MacGyver spoof, MacGruber, than the Man himself – but maybe I’m just being humble. In 2008, I started working for the Minneapolis Jewish Federation with no prior involvement in the local Jewish community. Little did I know that working at Federation would eventually afford me my dare-to-be-great moment. My MacGyver moment. Despite my complete lack of knowledge – that’s honesty, not humility, if you’re keeping track at home – I was inspired to learn more about the community. I saw how much good is done, how much love there is, and how much fun is had. And I soaked it up. MacGyver wouldn’t be MacGyver if he hadn’t learned about the independent parts of a ballpoint pen, the chemical properties of conditioning shampoo and the tensile strength of discarded cracker sleeves.
Now, I’m guessing many of you know Federation but you may not know exactly what we do. Allow me to dissect our mission statement for you: We build community, care for the welfare of Jews everywhere and maximize participation in Jewish life. While the middle third of that statement is incredibly important, you’ll notice that the other two-thirds are, too, and they’re about building community and Jewish identity. That two-thirds is my MacGyver moment.
That is why I am here. Everything I’ve learned about this warm, inviting community is the independent parts of its ballpoint pen, the chemical properties of its conditioning shampoo, and the tensile strength of its discarded cracker sleeves.
You visit because you’re interested in being a part of this vibrant Jewish community. Let me help you with that. It’s an important part of the mission of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation to connect you to this community, and to each other. Give me a pen and a cracker sleeve and see what I come up with. The possibilities are endless.
Each month in this column, I’ll also provide you with Five Devices to connect to your community. Without further ado, here are this month’s Five Devices:

TWO CITATION-NEEDED WIKI FACTS YOU MAY OR MAY NOT BE AWARE OF: 1.) Richard Dean Anderson is from the Twin Cities. He grew up in Roseville and went to St. Cloud State. 2.) The Fonz was an executive producer of MacGyver. Henry Winkler, you sly dog.
Thanks for reading. Let me know about any questions you have in the comments, or email me at [email protected], and if I can’t be your MacGyver I’ll find someone who can. Preferably with a mullet.

[Editor’s note: Jon is currently enjoying the sun in Jamaica, but he wanted us to tell you to comment away and he’ll get back to you next week.]

(Photo: Blackwood)