Churches Aid Vandalized Synagogues

Church neighbors of three Minneapolis synagogues whose Save Soviet Jewry signs were smeared with swastikas promptly offered assistance, according to a report by Marcy Steinberg in the American Jewish World.

The smeared synagogues were B’nai Emet, Beth El and Temple Israel. After the defacing was reported, the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, in cooperation with the Minneapolis-St. Paul Human Rights Coalition, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith of Minnesota and North Dakota and South Dakota, served as liaison between the churches and the synagogues.

Rev. Lawrence Dunnewold and 10 members of his Congregational United Church repainted the B’nai Emet sign. The minister said his congregation wanted to “help partly because “a holy place was desecrated” and partly because they wanted to change people’s ideas about a gap between Christians and Jews in the area.

Dunnewold said congregants of his church, the oldest in suburban St. Louis Park, had provided a temporary home for B’nai Emet services while the synagogue was being constructed.

Rabbi Joseph Wiesenberg, rabbi of B’nai Emet, said he was a survivor of the Holocaust and accordingly “whenever I see a swastika, it is a special stress to me” and when “I see people who care, it is special to me.”

Mort Ryweck, executive director of the area JCRCADL, said the church members acted “in the best Christian manner and are a reminder to the Jewish community that most Christians abhor anti-Semitism and bigotry.” The other churches volunterring the services of their congregants were the St. George Episcopal Church and the Plymouth Congregational Church.

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