MacGyvering A Mensch: Happy Family Edition

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 second in a series of monthly columns to share what’s happening in our community and help you become a part of it.
Camera pans in on the back of a Dodge Grand Caravan with Minnesota plates as it slows to a stop. Brake lights remain illuminated; reverse lights flash quickly as the vehicle is placed in park. Our characters emerge. Dad smiles as he hops out and places his young daughter in the stroller. Mom smirks proudly while her son, though excited, waits before running behind the vehicle. Parents wink at one another; Dad throws his left arm around Mom, pushing the stroller into the distance with his right.
Does this scene sound familiar? It shouldn’t, because it has never happened IN THE HISTORY OF TIME.
Instead, young daughter is screaming so loudly you’re not entirely sure her lungs are going to stay internalized. As for son, he may have a dislocated shoulder because keeping him out of traffic was like that scene from Cliffhanger. Mom is emptying a handful of mysterious loose Cheerios from her pocket and all Dad can think about is the game he’s missing.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
This month in MacGyvering a Mensch: Activities for the Whole Family.
Family activities are not always easy to find. Or so I’m told. Clearly, based on the familial stereotypes displayed above, I am a bachelor. And in order to write this month’s post, I decided I better figure out what interests families. There are only a few logical ways to do this, and naturally, I figured the best was to rent a family. I know what you’re thinking: “That, my friend, is pure genius.” Right?! The results, though, may surprise you. (The clichés likely won’t. A Google search for “the results may surprise you” yields about a million, well, results.)
Step One: Identify the best locations for family rental.
Degree of difficulty: Low.
My first stop would be the staple of modern American anthropology: the big-box discount retail parking lot. It’s like the state fair but with less food and it doesn’t last two weeks, it lasts FOREVER. What it lacks in birthing barns, it makes up for in year-round accessibility. Additionally, you can get just about anything there. They might even have rent-a-families in the back, by Automotive. We’ll wait it out.
Step Two: Identify the best families for rental.
Degree of difficulty: Medium.
Families tend to treat these parking lots like their backyards. They leave the house in rags. They turn animalistic. In such a parking lot, I witnessed a mother’s shrieks transcend the rules of nature, take physical form and lift a child completely off the ground. Walmart, the home of rolled-back prices and child-lifting shrieks. That story may be embellished. Regardless, it is a place of magic and wonder. Magic, wonder and the occasional discarded piece of hazardous waste. This is humanity. This is family. Hey, that looks like a good one.
Step Three: Acquire bail money.
Degree of difficulty: High.
Turns out families are opposed to being rented. Weird. You creep a few dozen people out and all of a sudden you’re a menace to society. If our founding fathers knew you couldn’t hang out in a Walmart parking lot …wait, there wasn’t Walmart back then? Costco? Target? Where did people buy stuff? It’s amazing roads even got built. Where did people get frozen pizzas? Did I mention I’m a bachelor?
In the end, it made more sense to talk to families and visit to find out what family activities were available. That brings us to this month’s Five Devices: Happy Family Edition.
Here are five ways you can connect your family to the Jewish community this month.

  • Get down with the father of (Israeli) rock. Shalom Hanoch is playing the Cedar Cultural Center (all ages show) on March 10 with Israeli composer Moshe Levi. Hanoch has regularly been compared to Neil Young and Mick Jagger, which I unfortunately cannot say to be true for me. Tickets can be purchased here or through Eilat Harel (952.417.2321) of Federation’s Israel Center.
  • Bounce. Check out Israeli Heritage Day with the Minnesota Timberwolves as they host the Sacramento Kings and Israel’s own Omri Casspi. Perks include early entrance, a chance for the kids to high-five the players as they run on the court, and watching the Timberwolves*. More*Note: May or may not be a perk. But the kids’ll love it!
  • Bookmark. Visit, where you will discover many related items that will you to what’s really happening in the community. This device sponsored by my employer. But seriously, organizations and event planners throughout the community use this resource strictly to let you know what’s going on. You. (Want to find out how to post your events? Email me.)
  • Read, Play, Love. The Story Time Express series continues on March 15 at Amos & Celia Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School with a program especially for 2- and 3-year-olds. As always, this series engages children and fosters growth in a variety of ways. Check out the entire series here, other upcoming adventures on the Express are open to all ages.
  • Ushanka! Celebrate Russian culture on March 13 at the Sabes Jewish Community Center. Get more in-depth than a joke about Russian winter hats (tell me it isn’t fun to yell “USHANKA!”). Highlights include a 19th century Russian fashion show, folk dancing, and much more.

May your family rise above the stereotypes I will undoubtedly be throwing at you when I see your minivan parking this month. And if you’re looking for other activities, let me know in the comments how you would like to connect to the community or what events you’d like to see happen. If you’d rather email me, it’s easy: j[email protected].
TWO CITATION-NEEDED WIKI FACTS YOU MAY OR MAY NOT BE AWARE OF: 1.) Cliffhanger originally received an NC-17 rating because of its gratuitous violence. Cuts were made to reduce violence wherever possible in order to obtain an R rating. Also, my friend Marty’s dad thought Cliffhanger actress Janine Turner was quite a fox in Northern Exposure. 2.) In 1981, Shalom Hanoch recorded an album entitled Chatuna Levana (White Wedding). The following year, Billy Idol released the hit song of the same name. Coincidence? You tell me, would you trust this guy?
(Photo: k::snyder)