JCA Executive Director Carin Mrotz spoke at the No Hate No Fear solidarity event at Temple Israel on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Her remarks are reproduced here as prepared for delivery:
Hello. Thank you for having me.
I want to start by saying if there is anyone here who felt anxious in the current moment to come to a public Jewish event, I see you. Thank you for coming anyway. As Jews in Minnesota there are times when we may feel invisible among our neighbors, and there are also times when we have felt too visible for comfort. That’s real. A few weeks ago, I found out I was going to be honored on a list of influential Jews, and while I was absolutely ecstatic to have Minnesota recognized among a bunch of national names, I hesitated - does this feel like a safe time to be an even more public Jew?
I imagine many of you have been having thoughts like that. So I want to bring you some hope, and offer you a challenge.
First, hope. I want to tell you about what I did earlier this afternoon. I trained a room full of organizers who are all working with farmers in greater Minnesota, and I taught them about antisemitism. Because they asked me to. They identified a gap in their racial justice analysis, a missing piece of the way they think about discrimination and they asked for help putting a name to an undercurrent they’ve felt, and a fear they sense. They invited me in and I gave them a historical and modern analysis of antisemitism, and their response was “we want more.”
They want to do more. In 1985, farmers and Jews came together here, at Temple Israel to fight antisemitism, and in 2020, echoes of that bond remain.
Rural Minnesotans who mostly don’t live in communities with Jews want to do more to be allies to us. To stand with us. And I am not surprised, but I’m heartened. I’m hopeful. And I hope you can share a piece of that with me.
And now, a challenge. Solidarity. I truly believe that solidarity is how we get through hard times. Solidarity was when our Muslim friends and allies showed up after the shooting in Pittsburgh to mourn with us, and when they volunteered to walk with us to shul to make us feel safe. Solidarity is when T’ruah rabbis traveled to Florida to stand with Immokalee tomato workers experiencing slave labor conditions. But solidarity isn’t a buzz word, and it isn’t just about showing up when things are bad. It’s also about being vulnerable enough to ask for support when we need it. And being in the kind of relationships that allow us to be comfortable doing that. It also means showing up when things are ok. It’s not just a rally, it’s a meal. It’s a text message. It’s a relationship. People who target us want us to be afraid, to close ourselves off. We only fight that with openness.
So I leave you with hope, and a challenge, and a promise - to stand with you. My community. Thank you.