One of the northwestern states of the American Union. It has a Jewish population of about 13,000, distributed in the following cities: Minneapolis, the largest city of the state, 6,000; St. Paul, the capital city, 5,000; Duluth, 1,000; and about 1,000 scattered over the rest of the state, where from 5 to 20 Jewish families may be found in most towns of 3,000 or more inhabitants.
The three brothers Samuels, English Jews, who as early as 1852 had an Indian trading-post at Taylor Falls, on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River, seem to have been the first Jewish settlers. One of the brothers, Morris Samuels, was captain in the Union army during the Civil war. Another Jew known to have been engaged in trading with the Indians in those early pioneer days was Isaac Marks, who had his residence in Mankato, and a trading-post about twelve miles from that place.
About 1857 some Jews went to St. Paul and engaged in general business, which likewise consisted mostly in trading with the Indians. The first Jewish organization was not effected till 1871, when the present Mt. Zion congregation of St. Paul came into existence. At that time Minneapolis had only a very few Jews. Since then, however, the Twin Cities have had an extraordinary growth in population, and the Jewish communities in them havegrown in proportion, especially since 1882. Of late years several Jews of St. Paul have greatly prospered in business, and are now recognized factors in the commercial life of that city, so that while the Jewish community of Minneapolis is the larger in point of numbers, that of St. Paul is the wealthier and more influential.
In political and general communal activity the Jews of Minnesota have so far achieved little distinction, though T. N. Cardozo of St. Paul was as early as 1855 appointed United States commissioner, and Joseph Oppenheim of St. Paul was early in the eighties a member of the state legislature for two consecutive terms.
About 30 Jews from Minnesota were in the United States service during the Spanish-American war, one of them, Albert Steinhauser of New Ulm, being captain of Company A, 12th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry (see "American Jewish Year Book," 5661).
There are 17 organized congregations in the state, to wit: 7 in Minneapolis; 7 in St. Paul; and 3 in Duluth; one in each city—namely, Mt. Zion of St. Paul, Shaarei Tov of Minneapolis, and Emanuel of Duluth—belonging to the Reform wing of Judaism, while all the others retain the Orthodox ritual. These three have within the last two years dedicated new and handsomely built houses of worship. There is an I. O. B. B. lodge in each of the three cities, the one in St. Paul having been organized in 1871, and the one in Duluth in 1904. In the Twin Cities many lodges of the other Jewish fraternal orders, particularly of the O. B. A., are in flourishing condition. Zionism is well represented in St. Paul, where a Zionist society with a large membership of young men and young women maintains a well-appointed club-house.
"The Jewish Progress" of the Twin Cities, a weekly in English, is issued at Minneapolis.