Grant Offers Funding To Tell Jewish, Somali Stories

Sometimes the stories that we think are unique to one group have more in common with others than you might think. Telling those stories is crucial to connecting with other communities. The Jewish and Somali communities are going to have that opportunity

The Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), and Intersections Consulting are soliciting proposals for creative initiatives to amplify these stories and enhance relationships across Somali communities, Jewish communities, and other Minnesota communities. The project is funded by a $25,000 grant from the ADL, and announced on Nov. 8, and additional $15,000 grant from the Minneapolis Foundation. Grantees are eligible to get up to $5,000 and the proposal deadline has been extended to Dec. 18.

JCRC Executive Director Steve Hunegs said that being a part of the grant program is a natural extension of what the organization does.

“It’s an important place for us,” Hunegs said. “Civil rights is part of our work and we owe it going forward to secure the civil rights of others. The communications piece is telling stories of how we work together and gain strength. What comes from it is the ability to work together and trust each other against organizations that seek to divide us.”

This is the first time that the ADL has started a project like this one.

“ADL is thrilled to partner with JCRC and our friends in the Somali-American community on this exciting and critical initiative,” said David Goldenberg, Midwest regional director of the ADL. “At a time when hate and extremism are rising in our country and Somali-American and Jewish communities are targeted by extremists, we must band together to protect our shared future. That starts with learning each other’s stories and enhancing interpersonal and intercommunal ties.”

Intersections Consulting, an enterprise founded by Somali-Americans Abdul Mohamed and Abdifarah Fatah with community building and creative storytelling experience in Minnesota, is helping manage the process of awarding the grants.

“There is so much more that unites us than what sets us apart. By exploring those commonalities and broadcasting that message to those who need to hear it, we will be investing in our shared future as Minnesotans in important and necessary ways,” said Abdifatah Farah, who started Intersections Consulting with Abdul Mohamed.

Said Mohamed: “Combating bigotry and bias is a responsibility that belongs to all of us. To do that, we must challenge ourselves to have conversations that may not always be comfortable.”

Hunegs said that the Somali community in Minneapolis is not all that different from any other – including Judaism.

“It’s complex. There are differences of age, religion, politics, where you’re born, many secular and religious differences,” he said. “We have to be understanding of those complexities and we ask for the same. One of the reasons we engage in such a project is to learn more about each other’s communities.”

Requests for Proposals are available in English and Somali.