Prayers and Action: Minnesota’s Jewish Community Responds to the Government Shutdown

When the Minnesota government shutdown last week, many of us were too stunned to do anything.  Some merely wondered, How will this impact our families? Our communities? But maybe you called your State Senator.  Maybe you made a donation to an organization that helps those in need.  The local Jewish community kicked into gear to mobilize, advocate, and pray.  Here are a few of the actions taken by our local Jewish community organizations.

Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Minneapolis

This important service organization for the Jewish – and broader – Minnesota community is continuing to advocate for a state budget that will provide critically needed services to our clients, such as child care assistance and mental health support.  Read the article Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Minneapolis wrote for TCJewfolk a day after the shutdown about how you can help Minnesota’s communities in need at this difficult time.

A Message From Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman of Temple Israel

This statement was e-mailed to all members of Temple Israel’s congregation in Minneapolis.

Last night I gathered with my family and others in our community on the Capitol steps to show my support for public workers, hours before the government shutdown. An open microphone sounded the stories of people who keep our state running and vibrant, and who cannot go to work today.

These individuals keep our parks open, regulate our drinking water, monitor child care and senior care centers…on and on we witnessed the services our city and state will lose at this time – things we often take for granted but that are so much a part of our daily lives.

We are saddened by this state of affairs; it affects us all. Many in our congregation are personally affected by the shutdown. Know that you are all in our prayers and that we are here. Don’t hesitate to call.

Throughout the Tanach, the Israelite people are called “servants of God.” Judaism teaches that the work of our hands honors our relationship with the Divine; we make bread out of wheat and bricks out of clay. On this Shabbat we honor our public servants, who make immeasurable contributions to the common good.

Shabbat Shalom.

Shir Tikvah’s Prayer for Our Government and State Leaders

Rabbi Michael Adam Latz, Rabbi Melissa B. Simon and Music Director Wendy Goldberg of Shir Tikvah Congregation in Minneapolis offered this evocative prayer on the eve of the Minnesota Government shut-down in an e-mail to their congregation, and read it from the Bimah this Shabbos.

A prayer for our government and state leaders: God who watches over all creation, give wisdom to those who are leaders among us. Open the hearts of our elected officials to compromise and justice. Inspire with creativity those who legislate. Provide compassion to those who make decisions affecting our lives and help them to ensure that vital services are delivered to the most vulnerable in our communities.

As Judaism teaches, our highest obligation to care for the sick, the orphan, the distressed, and the strangers in our midst. Give us the ability to work together in the spirit of collaboration towards our common goal- the improvement of humanity. Protect each of us with sukkat shalom, your shelter of peace, and let us say, Amen.

Beth Jacob Congregation of Mendota Heights

With the shutdown of Minnesota’s government approaching, Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, took action within its synagogue  community to help those in need, determining which congregants and their families were state government employees who had lost their jobs, and then offering them the services and resources of the Congregation.

What is your synagogue/Jewish organization doing to react to and/or address the Minnesota government shutdown? Tell their stories in the comments below.

(Photo: Tommy Ironic)