To begin with, the story never tells where in North Dakota this cemetery is. And it certainly makes it sound as if North Dakota is currently devoid of Jewish life.
Having myself lived for ten years in Fargo, North Dakota, I can tell you that the Jewish community there is very much alive and active.
Here’s what I wrote to the folks at JTA:
As a Jew who spent ten wonderful years of his adult life living in Fargo, North Dakota, I am very offended at the portrait this article paints of current Jewish life in North Dakota. There are synagogues with active Jewish communities in Fargo and Grand Forks, and other communities also have Jewish communities that come together regularly. And the Jewish cemeteries in Fargo and Grand Forks are maintained, and not overgrown and ignored. One would never know that Judaism continues to thrive in North Dakota from reading this poorly researched article.
The article itself is so lacking in factual information. It never once mentions in which town the deserted cemetery is located. It makes no reference to current Jewish communities in North Dakota. You have done these good people a disservice, and I think you ought to write the wrong, but following up with a report on North Dakota’s wonderful Jewish communities.
For some info on Jewish life in North Dakota, visit:http://www.kobrinsky.com/tbe.htm
Jewish history in North Dakota doesn’t need to just be kept alive–it IS alive. Shame on the JTA and reporter Rachel Silverman for this gross injustice and shoddy journalism.
I may have grown up in New York City, and may now live in the metro Washington, D.C. area, but I can say without hesitation that much of what and who I am now, Jewishly, was shaped and formed in the warm and wonderful Jewish community of North Dakota. It appears easy to be a Jew when surrounded by thousands of others. Out in the great plains, it takes effort. Truth be told, I think those of us living in our American shtetls and ghettos ought to consider how much effort we make. And maybe consider making aliyah to the rest of America. I didn’t encounter anti-Semitism that much in North Dakota. I encountered ignorance born of people never having actually meeting someone who is Jewish! Given the chance to actually meet a Jew, they’re far less likely to fall prey to the lies and mistruths of those who seek our destruction.