The synagogue where Bob Dylan and his family attended services when Bob was growing up on Minnesota’s Iron Range is for sale again. The former Agudath Achim Synagogue in Hibbing has been remodeled into a residential home but key attributes remain from its time as the site of young Robert Zimmerman’s bar mitzvah, including the star of David stained glass windows and a kosher kitchen set-up. The building has changed hands a couple times, but I know at least one of the post-synagogue owners had a bird-filled menagerie in the middle of the big open space. Not sure if that’s still true.
It’s a common misconception that Dylan grew up in the only Jewish household in a post-bloom mining town. In truth, the Iron Range of the early- to mid-20th century had a fairly active Jewish community that accompanied the region’s broad ethnic diversity. Educated Jewish children, mostly of shopkeeping families, left with all the other educated children of miners to form strong communities all over the country in the later 20th century. Unfortunately, the Jewish communities on the Range were too small to sustain the losses, especially as businesses closed through the ’60s, and the congregations dissolved. The B’nai Abraham synagogue remains in Virginia, Minn., but it’s too small to sustain the quorum needed for services. The Iron Range was and remains an interesting cultural study, just like Bob Dylan.
(Hibbing synagogue story source: Duluth News Tribune)