The first Jews who came to Minnesota in 1856, founding Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation, were part of the pioneering fabric of St. Paul. Theirs and future generations engaged in all areas of civic life. The women of Mount Zion, along with its Rabbi at the turn of the 20th century, founded Neighborhood House to help settle large waves of Eastern European Jews coming to the state. Over a century later, Neighborhood House is still serving immigrant groups entering Minnesota, now from Mexica, Laos, and Somalia among many other lands.
Mount Zion's building, dedicated in 1954 on Summit Avenue, was designed by Erich Mendelsohn, a world-renowned architect. Visitors come to the city every year to study the building. The visionary who helped pick Mendelsohn was Rabbi Gunther Plaut, who served the congregation for over ten years. During his time here, he wrote a history of Jews in Minnesota, a history of Mount Zion, and a commentary on the Torah [Five Books of Moses] that is used in over a thousand congregations around the world. He also served on many governors' commissions, helped to found the St. Paul Art Museum, and served as President of the St. Paul Athletic Association. Throughout Mount Zion's 150 years, its members have sought to fulfill Micah's words for the congregation and indeed all of Minnesota, to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
~Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker, St. Paul, MN