11/26/2023 Editor’s note: TC Jewfolk learned in the summer of 2023 that this group was actively recruiting artists in support of BDS. We have been made aware that the 2023 event has used slogans that may be deemed anti-Israel and antisemitic, and fall outside of Jewfolk’s policy of not promoting events, organizations, or people that do not support Israel’s right to exist.
There’s an eclectic nature to south Minneapolis’ Jewish community that has led a group of artists and artisans in the area to conclude that they were living in a shtetl of sorts, which resulted in this summer’s Southside Shtetl event. It went so well, the organizers are reprising it for an evening of art and music.
The Southside Shtetl Chanukah Market will be at the Black Forest Inn on Sunday, Nov. 27 from 5-8 p.m. It will feature community Klezmer music, Jewish jewelry, handmade yarmulkes, Shabbat candles, ceramic tzedakah boxes, radical Jewish zines, Turkish coffee ground readings, ritual items, and more. The event will also we will be raising tzedakah for abortion justice organizations Indigenous Women Rising, Spiral Collective, and Our Justice MN. Masks will be required for those attending the event.
“We just had no idea what to expect,” said Miriam Khanan, one of the trio of organizers along with Mia Freiberg and Z Kaplan, of the summer event. “I knew my nice group of queer, trans, leftist Jews would be into it, but I wasn’t sure if would extend beyond that. But there was a demand and hunger for thriving Jewish life that isn’t at a synagogue, but isn’t entirely secular either.”
Khanan said that many people at the August event, which was outdoors, said they were artists and wanted to get involved in the next one. This time, being indoors, there is a limit on how many artists can be there to display their wares.
“We had a really hard time deciding who wanted to be a part of this event because we were unfortunately limited by the space,” said Kaplan, who was awarded a grant from Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council which helped to go towards securing the space and other parts of the project. Kaplan said that a Google Form was established for artists to apply to be a part of this event.
“We asked artists to describe themselves and describe their work and how their work connects to Judaism,” Kaplan said. “There are a lot of Jewish makers in the city, but there are not as many people who are explicitly making Judaica or explicitly making work that has Jewish symbols on it.
“There are other people who, while their Jewish values were going into their work, you don’t see that it is explicitly Jewish. It’s really hard to say no to people.”
Khanan and Kaplan both said that one of the vendors they are really excited about is a man named Stu, who is retired and handcrafts wooden dreidels. Another is Ricardo Levins Morales, a Puerto Rican Jew who uses art as a political organizing tool.
“There is good stuff in the Jewish community,” Khanan said. “We’re creating community outside the bounds of community. I want to be part of building a thriving, diasporic Jewish community. We’re working to be in relationship with others and that feels sacred and feels like what Jews in the diaspora have been doing for centuries.”