Rabbis Lend Talents For Viral Interfaith Video

Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman may be known for many things: Her long tenure at Temple Israel and her trademark high heels being but two of them. But a world-class throwing arm?

“Can you believe it?” Zimmerman said with a laugh. “The NFL did try and recruit me but I decided on rabbinic school instead.”

Zimmerman enjoyed the laugh, but showing off her arm was for a more important cause. Her football prowess was on display in a video released last week to promote Bold Hope in the North, an interfaith gathering on Sunday, Jan. 28, to benefit the Emergency Rental Assistance Program of Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness. The date falls a week before Super Bowl LII.

“We wanted to highlight how we want to look in the world as a community and a city,” Zimmerman said. “We started talking about having a program on Sunday the week before the Super Bowl. To bring our communities together, and hopefully guests, to highlight and celebrate interfaith dialogue doing good in the world.”

The event is being hosted at Westminster Presbyterian Church (1200 Marquette Ave., Minneapolis), from 2-4 p.m. It will feature entertainers of all different faiths, from a Middle Eastern ensemble to a Klezmer orchestra.

The goal of the fundraiser has already reached its initial goal of $100,000 and is now aiming for $250,000.

“You can’t move the goalposts on a football field, but you can in fundraising,” said Pastor Tim Hart-Anderson of Westminster Presbyterian.

Last year’s pilot program of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program gave $1,000 to more than 148 households, which helped keep more than 80 percent of them in their homes.

“It turned out to be a pretty effective way to keep people in their homes and out of shelters,” Hart-Anderson said.

The event brings together the DCEH and a group of faith leaders that includes Rabbi Alexander Davis of Beth El Synagogue, who is the co-chair of the Minnesota Rabbinic Association, and others that were pulled together by former Sen. Al Franken after the riots in Charlottesville and the bombing of a mosque in Bloomington.

“Franken had called the meeting and talked about tolerance and civility, and I threw out the idea that, with all eyes pointed on us, let’s do something that promotes Minnesota.”

Franken helped arrange a meeting with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, which has joined the coalition. Davis said the act of making the video was one that was affirming of our initial impetus of unity despite the religious differences.

“What I said at the first meeting was that we’re all on the same team and that should be the theme of the video,” he said. “Even in the making the video that’s what we experienced. Between shots, we were hanging out in the locker room and having fun getting to know each other.”

Davis and Zimmerman were joined in the video by fellow rabbis Morris Allen of Beth Jacob Congregation, and David Locketz and Jill Crimmings of Bet Shalom. Zimmerman got quarterbacking tips from former Minnesota Viking punter and current sideline analyst on the radio Greg Coleman, and an Augsburg football player.

The video has gone viral, which is what Davis was hoping for.

“We knew that seeing the archbishop put on gear would have some appeal,” he said. “And the message is one we really want to get out there.”

Both Davis and Zimmerman said that all the clergy had a great time together in the process of shooting – including nearly setting off a fire alarm.

“In the locker room, the folks from the Basilica brought the incense lamps (thuribles),” Davis said. “They lit it in locker room and the room filled up with smoke. We realized the fire alarm was going to go off.”

Hart-Anderson said that some of the outtakes are better than the video.

“We had a scene where I’m preparing the Gatorade and I’m blessing it like holy water,” he said. “Then, were about to dunk Coleman with the Gatorade, and pastor sprinkles him with it. One of the rabbis said ‘Oy vey, did we just baptize him?'”

As for Zimmerman’s high heels on turf?

“They were perfect,” she said. “They were worried, but I floated on the turf.”