Rick Linsk, who was elected president of the Federation Board of Directors at our 85th Annual Meeting on July 20, is a long-time Federation volunteer and leader, having served as board vice president from 2016 to 2018 and president-elect since 2018. He chaired the Central Budget and Review Committee, which leads Federation’s allocations process, from 2013 to 2015.
“We have a strong and caring Jewish community in St. Paul,” said Rick. “I’m looking forward to working with my fellow board members, colleagues, and community members to find ways to be even more welcoming and responsive to all Jews in greater St. Paul. Just as we draw on our traditions and teachings, we will tap new technologies and the immense creativity of our community to create more engagement, more dialogue, and more tzedakah.”
Since 2009, Linsk has been an attorney with Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P. He works primarily in the firm’s health care, insurance, employment, and products liability litigation practices. After earning his law degree, he was a judicial law clerk for the Minnesota Supreme Court. Previously, he was a journalist for more than two decades for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Minnesota. He was an investigative reporter with the St. Paul Pioneer Press from 1999 to 2006.
Rick Linsk lives in St. Paul with his wife Nancy Crotti and is a member of Mount Zion Temple. Rick and Nancy have two adult children, Hannah and Madeleine, who live in the Twin Cities.
I want to spend a few minutes considering a question and looking forward a bit. First the question: Why are we here?
I don’t mean why are we all here together tonight on yet another Zoom call. But why are we here as participants in a Jewish community?
I suggest it’s because our project, the essence of what we do, starts with seeing each person as created in the divine image. Because we believe this, it shapes everything we do. It sparks our commitment to chai, to life itself.
“We take care of each other, and the broader community, for that’s our calling, our Torah.”
Every class taught, every child nurtured, every meal served, every act of tzedakah performed, every relationship deepened is a small miracle. All these add up to tikkun olam, repair of the world, our statement about living in a just society and world, about resisting complacency and despair. Thanks to all of you who have been doing this work in your organizations and in your own way.
Your work is even more urgent than ever.
The writer, activist, and professor David Elcott, who was the scholar-in-residence of my Harry Kay Leadership training cohort 18 years ago, observes in his 1995 book “A Sacred Journey” that in a modern Western society, Judaism and a Jewish approach to life are part of an open market of “values, ideas, and competitive traditions.” People are free to pursue other interests – money, leisure, fame, you name it. And David said this 25 years ago.
He also offers what I think is a useful metaphor of G-d in the center of the universe pulling on thoughts and behaviors like a magnet. And all of us orbiting around that magnetic force – some closer to the core than others, some farther out, and our orbits changing over time.
What I would like to see (and accomplish) these next two years is to bring more people into that orbit that Elcott speaks of, and closer in as well. How we do it – how we compete with the other choices people can make – is detail we will have to work out together. We can draw on our traditions and teachings even as we tap new technologies and the immense creativity of our community.
As we figure that out, I would like to see us be kinder to one another. And be more respectful to each other (even as we work together on challenging issues). More patient with each other. And become closer to each other.
All this includes people who have felt overlooked, neglected, mistreated, or hurt for any reason, including Jews of color and people of color.
If we can do this together, it will not make our challenges go away, but I believe it will make them a measure easier to address and make progress on. We can have more engagement. More dialogue. More tzedakah. More healing. More justice. A Jewish community knitted tighter together. A better world.
I think it could be exciting … even fun.
I look forward to partnering with you and others toward all this.