As a longtime resident of the Twin Cities, I have seen both the best and worst of Minnesota. At our best, we boast a diverse community that consistently ranks at or near the top in every survey of desirable communities in which to live and raise a family. And I have seen us just recently in the violence and unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd.
Both at our best and at our worst, the Twin Cities will be enriched by the new American Jewish Committee Minneapolis-St. Paul Regional Office, established last month. In announcing two new Regional Offices in the Twin Cities and in Louisville, Ky. – bringing the number of AJC offices across the U.S. to 24.
Some in the Minnesota Jewish community may not be familiar with AJC and its pioneering leadership since its founding in 1906.
AJC has been called the “state department” of the Jewish people with 24 offices in the United States, 13 offices and posts around the world, and 37 partnerships with Jewish communities from Argentina to Australia and from Moldova to Morocco. Additionally, AJC has a global architecture that includes institutes focused on Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Africa
AJC’s presence in the Twin Cities provides our communities with the opportunity to engage in AJC’s work and benefit from AJC’s global expertise. As AJC’s Director in Minneapolis and St. Paul, I am eager to continue AJC’s collaboration with organizations that have been on the ground here for decades—the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul, the JCRC, and others. Our communities’ dedication to Israel, to combating antisemitism and to safeguarding the rights and freedoms of all people align fully with AJC’s mission, and AJC’s diplomatic, thoughtful approach to a complex world can only benefit our communities here.
The shockwaves sent from Minneapolis throughout the world have been painful to watch, and yet present us with opportunity. Establishing a permanent presence in the Twin Cities is an assertion of AJC’s longstanding commitment to the struggle for racial justice, pluralism, and social harmony.
From our funding of Dr. Kenneth B. Clark’s pivotal research cited in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision to AJC’s central role in the launch of the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations in 2019, AJC has been on the frontlines in the battle for civil rights, working for equality through legislation, advocacy and media campaigns.
AJC has also been a pioneer in interreligious affairs with deep engagement for decades with Catholic and Christian communities. Notably, AJC’s quiet engagement at the highest levels with the Catholic Church helped usher in Nostra Aetate (1965), the transformational doctrinal change in which the Church formally rejected the deicide charge against the Jews. This success inspires and informs AJC’s 21st-century outreach to Islam, where history is yet again being made. Earlier this year, in partnership with The Muslim World League, AJC led the most senior Islamic leadership delegation to ever visit Auschwitz or any Nazi death camp. This delegation included 62 Muslims, including 25 prominent religious leaders, from 28 countries.
The Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, co-convened by AJC and the Islamic Society of North America in 2016, is a groundbreaking interfaith, bipartisan partnership combating hate crimes, antisemitism and anti-Muslim bigotry in the U.S., and celebrating the contributions to American society by Jews and Muslims. Joint Jewish-Muslim advocacy in Congress already has yielded legislative successes. This engagement is particularly important in Minnesota, and AJC looks forward to playing a constructive role in partnering, advancing, and developing Muslim-Jewish relations.
Through our global network, trusted partnerships, our extensive legislative outreach, and our deep and abiding commitment for more than a century to interethnic and interreligious bridge-building, AJC is focused on creating positive change and to working with leaders locally, nationally, and around the world to create stronger, more just societies. I am eager to get to work here in the Twin Cities.
Jacob Millner is Associate Director in AJC’s Department of Regional Offices and Director of AJC Minneapolis & St. Paul