Remembering the life of Victor Rosenthal: Social Justice Advocate, Professor, and Executive Director of Jewish Community Action.

By: James J. Berreth, Government and Political Writer with The Metropolitan

In the picture: Victor Rosenthal

“As serious as he could be at times, he loved to laugh more than anything, especially with his family.”

Ben Rosenthal

St. Paul, Minn. – Victor (Vic) Rosenthal, a tireless advocate for social justice, and former professor at Metro State University passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 28th at the Beyond Hospice Home in Oakdale, Minn. He was 68.

Reading through news clippings, memorial tributes on his Caring Bridge site, and the beautiful obituary written by his son Ben Rosenthal paints a picture of a man unwavering in his dedication, advocacy for others, generosity, and relentlessness of spirit.

For instance, in an interview conducted by Bob Keller in 2013, Mr. Rosenthal describes the work he did during the recession of 2008 and afterward. In 2009, when Vic was the executive director of Jewish Community Action (JCA), he and other volunteers went door-knocking in North Minneapolis (an area where 1 in 4 homes was in foreclosure) and helped direct homeowners to foreclosure prevention specialists. In many cases, Vic sat down with African American residents and just listened as he wanted to know what was important to them, which helped forge real, lasting relationships that could be built upon. Through the JCA, and an arm of the JCA called the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition, or NCRC, Vic and other organizers helped residents fight against banks looking to foreclose on their homes by interceding on their behalf with the banks and negotiating terms beneficial to these residents.

For Vic, it was all about the connections one could make with anyone and everyone. This same sentiment continues to echo in the virtual halls of Metro State University. In his POL 301, Citizenship in a Global Context class session on Mon. April 3rd, Professor John Porten instructed his students that the best way to combat racism, bigotry, and intolerance is by networking and forging relationships with immigrants and people who are from different cultures. This is how you build social capital; this is how we gain power, and this is how we change the views of those who oppose equal rights.

Vic was, by all accounts, a great father, and according to his son Ben, “To be loved by Vic meant to be loved without condition or limit.” I can think of no greater testament to a life well lived than by closing with this final sentiment, again, from his son Ben, “He was a passionate, intelligent, thoughtful, caring, inspiring, and generous man, but it was his capacity to love that exceeded everything.”

Vic Rosenthal will be missed by many and his legacy lives on in those who knew him best, in the organizations he helped grow, and by the thousands of lives, he touched. The State of Minnesota owes a debt of gratitude to Vic Rosenthal, his wife Chris, his sons Ben and Aaron, their wives, and two grandchildren he doted over, Harper and Henry.

A memorial service will be held on the Metro State University’s St. Paul campus in St. John’s Hall, room 154 at 4 pm on Tues. April 4th.