MacGyvering a Mensch: Stereotyping Your Friends 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 third in a series of monthly columns to share what’s happening in our community and help you become a part of it.
Friends are like flowers: There are a ton of them out there and if you focus too closely on one you’re probably going to get sick of it.
Or is it because they’re unique? I’ve never been a huge fan of flowers, so maybe I’m screwing that one up. (One notable exception. Flowers that grow on bushes still qualify as flowers, right? I don’t know how those rules work. Regardless, they smell so good I want to surgically insert little bits in my scent ducts*. If someone invented a food that smelled like lilacs, I could stop eating lilacs.)  Independent of my feelings on flowers, I AM a huge fan of friends. One of the interesting things about growing up – believe me, I use that term loosely – is learning more about friends, colleagues and family members and discovering that though they are generally unique, they tend to fall into some common, discernible categories.
*The olfactory bulb is the anatomical feature principally responsible for the perception of odors, but you shouldn’t believe I knew that without the Internet’s help.
By that, I don’t mean they fall into cliques. Rather, these categories tend to be based on personality types.
For instance, the World’s Problemsolver. The World’s Problemsolver, also referred to as the Deep Friend, will never shy away from a philosophical conversation, and in fact will frequently initiate them. In the right context, the World’s Problemsolver provides meaningful conversation. In the wrong context, you could wish that the World’s Problemsolver’s voice box would be struck by a mysterious illness, or The Karate Kid.
Nonetheless, the World’s Problemsolver fills a valuable role, and while you may not always be looking for what this friend has to offer, you find you enjoy it when the time is right.
The counterpoint of the World’s Problemsolver is the Thatswhatshesaid. The Thatswhatshesaid caters to the lowest common denominator, regardless of audience. A deep conversation to the Thatswhatshesaid, as you’d imagine, pretty much always ends with “That’s what she said.” The Thatswhatshesaid fills a very valuable mood-lightening role, but isn’t exactly who you’d go to when you are looking for advice. Unless the advice you’re looking for is related to the anatomy.
Another character type you’re sure to encounter is the Full-Zip. The Full-Zip is generally on the quiet side and doesn’t often say things without having thought them out thoroughly ahead of time. This makes the Full-Zip a bit of a background dweller; however, when the Full-Zip does say something, it’s usually more meaningful than either the World’s Problemsolver or the Thatswhatshesaid. Case in point, Silent Bob of Kevin Smith film infamy.
And that’s barely scratching the surface. With a bit of thought you’ll pinpoint other categories among the people in your respective circles. Maybe some of them even fall into more than one category. But the value of having multiple people in your life is that you find they each offer you something unique and valuable.
Similarly, at the Minneapolis Jewish Federation we have different ways for you to connect to the community, which brings us to this month’s Five Devices:

  • Young Leadership – this isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. We do require you to be youngish but the leadership is totally optional. Our Young Leadership (YL) Division aims to connect those ages 21-45 to the Jewish community through a combination of outreach, networking and volunteering. Whichever part interests you is the part you can choose. There really is something for everything in YL, from monthly happy hours (the next one’s at Thom Pham’s Wondrous Azian Kitchen on April 28) to the popular annual Casino Night to the upcoming YL Shabbatluck Dinner. Contact Heather Schwartz for more information on YL and you’ll find something that interests you.
  • Women’s Philanthropy – want to feel empowered? Look no further than Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy Division. Women’s Philanthropy grows the community through intellectual growth (at events like next week’s Crypto Jews: The Hidden Jews from the Spanish Inquisition, which is sure to be interesting and already a packed house); financial growth, by fundraising and volunteering; and emotional growth – next month’s Gossip Girls event has that covered, too. Where do you sign? Contact Dana Rubin for more information.
  • Doctors & Lawyers – I think it’s safe to say that these two groups are full of Thatswhatshesaids. Amirite?! Who doesn’t love a good doctor/lawyer joke! Oh, mostly doctors and lawyers. Well, if I didn’t lose you, you should definitely pay attention to the two groups at Federation that are designed specifically for you. The Twin Cities Cardozo Society is our lawyers’ affinity group and the Twin Cities Maimonides Society is our doctors’ affinity group. Each has events throughout the year that appeal to you and can connect you not only to the Jewish community but also to your peers throughout the Twin Cities. In fact, the Cardozo Society is hosting U.S. Ambassador to Morocco the Hon. Samuel Kaplan and Mrs. Sylvia Kaplan on April 21, and the Maimonides Society is hosting A Time of Change: Welcoming the New Dean at the U of M Medical School, Dr. Aaron Friedman, on May 4. Click the links for more information or contact Temma Shankman (lawyers) or Laura Taple (doctors).
  • Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council – if you guessed that this initiative connects you to the local Jewish arts scene, you would be correct. And not necessarily that good at guessing. Through a monthly E-guide that walks you through all the local arts your heart can handle as well as regular events, Rimon has a great following among local art junkies. Rimon’s Salon Series, a hit every year, continues at 2 p.m. this Sunday when you can hear about the art of scoring for film and stage from composer Adam Wernick and Phillip Gainsley, as they discuss a giant of American film in “Bernard Herrmann: Music Goes to the Movies (with a side trip to the opera).” For more on Rimon, contact David Jordan Harris.
  • All the possibilities – networking events, education events, volunteer opportunities, mission trips … the list goes on. There really are hundreds of ways you can connect to your local Jewish community through Federation. Visit to find out more. Or give us a call at 952.593.2600. Or email me. I’m still waiting to hear from more of you about how you’d like to connect to the community.

Challenge issued.
TWO CITATION-NEEDED WIKI FACTS YOU MAY OR MAY NOT BE AWARE OF: 1.) YKK stands for Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha, the Japan-based manufacturer that is the world’s foremost producer of zippers. Some estimates are that YKK produces 90 percent of the world’s zippers, more than 7 million of which are produced daily at the company’s largest factory, in Georgia. 2.) “A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms).” Yes, I know the lilac comment earlier sounded kind of dumb. However, you try bringing these home next Valentine’s Day and then we’ll see who looks dumb about flowers.
(photo: Carolyn_Sewell)