2015 Week 1 – Jack Jalenak and Sarah Naids

I find it strange to think back to how different my world was exactly one month ago. Around this time last month, I was a college senior at LSU working through his last few finals, counting down the days until graduation. Now it seems as if a year has passed since commencement, and I find myself in a completely new city fulfilling a completely new role.

On May 15th, I graduated from the LSU College of Science with an honors degree in biology. Shortly thereafter, I started moving north along I-55 with some stops on the way, ultimately settling in Memphis this past Saturday. For the first 21 years of my life, home has always been Baton Rouge. Now my weekends filled with jambalaya and LSU Fightin’ Tigers sports have been traded out for BBQ ribs and live music on Beale. Baton Rouge will always have a spot in my heart, but I couldn’t think of a better new city to move to. In addition, spending this summer living somewhere new is bringing on new responsibilities and independence that I’ve never before experienced. And fortunately, at the same time I feel exceedingly well-supported. My network of Memphis relatives, Temple Israel staff, and my peers in the Fellowship made this wholly new city feel like I’ve been here for years.

Jack and his Memphis family enjoying Corky’s BBQ

In addition to my transition from Baton Rouge to Memphis, I’ve made an equally profound transition from college student to professional. I find myself applying the skills I learned in school in my work every day, and I’m learning even more every time I walk through the doors at CirQuest Labs. My internship opportunity is challenging and is showing me a side of medicine I’d never seen or given much thought to before the summer. CirQuest Labs is a non-academic research facility that aims to develop new treatments for various diseases, most of which are blood diseases. I’d never really considered the research and work that goes into every treatment for every condition, and even in the first week, this has been eye-opening. I’m learning countless new skills and am also getting a new perspective on drug treatments and their applications in medicine. Ultimately, my goal is to gain admission to medical school and become a physician, and I am confident that this new point-of-view will not only make me a better candidate for medical schools, but will one day contribute to me being the best doctor I can be.

One month ago, I was a college student in Baton Rouge, and now I’m something completely different. My peers in the Fellowship and I have an acronym that we like to identify ourselves with: YJP, standing for Young Jewish Professional. I like this term because it completely encompasses everything that we are and strive to be in the TI Fellowship. I am a young Jew who was recently transplanted into a new city working hard at a new job that he loves and finds exciting and fulfilling. One month ago, I was an LSU student in Baton Rouge. Now I’m a YJP in Memphis, and I wouldn’t want to be anything else.

-Jack Jalenak


The 2015 TI Fellowship started out with a bang!  Just in our first week, we’ve already seen so much of this amazing city.  We’ve started becoming oriented to Memphis and Temple Israel, as well as getting to know each other.

We started out by moving in to the Fielder Square apartments, which are right across from AutoZone Park and a short walk from many of Downtown’s best restaurants, bars, and attractions.  After we were all moved in, we got together for a rooftop Havdallah with an amazing view of the river, followed by dinner at McEwen’s on Monroe and a visit to the Tennessee Brewery!

TN Brewery

Outside of the Tennessee Brewery after a fun night!

Enjoying the View After Rooftop Havdallah

Enjoying the view after rooftop Havdallah

The next morning, Rabbi Katie Bauman gave us a tour of Temple Israel, and in the afternoon, we looked around the Belz Museum and took a tour of Downtown with the River City Pedalers.

Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art

Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art

On Monday the 1st, we started work.  After we finished our first day, we all had a good time at the New Memphis Institute’s kick-off networking event at Felicia Suzanne’s.  We had a chance to network with some local professionals and lots of interns, who were working all over the city.  The next event we had was a ConnecTI happy hour at The Brass Door on Thursday evening, where we met young Jewish professionals (“YJPs”).  On Friday afternoon, we participated in a personality and skills assessment workshop at Rhodes.

Finally, it was Shabbat.  It was so comforting to be back at my home synagogue with both old friends and new ones.  The best part about this service was that Temple Israel’s new clergy members were there! Afterwards, we headed to the home of the Finestones for a meet and greet with supporters of the Fellowship.

On Saturday, we didn’t have anything planned, so we had our own adventures.  A few of us went to Bryant’s on Summer Ave. for breakfast, which came highly recommended by one of this year’s fellows.

Bryant's Breakfast - Yum!

Bryant’s Breakfast – Yum!

Then we visited the Cooper Young farmer’s market where another fellow was working.  At night we attended on of the Levitt Shell’s many awesome free concerts.

Levitt Shell!

Levitt Shell!

Levitt Shell!

Levitt Shell!

Both Zachs, both Sarahs, Leah, and Tammy at the Levitt Shell.

Both Zachs, both Sarahs, Leah, and Tammy at the Levitt Shell

We wrapped up an awesome first week with a tour of Shelby Farms Park.  We saw buffalo, walked around lakes, and took a short hike through part of the huge park.

In only a week, we have done and seen so much.  There is a lot coming up for the fellows in the weeks ahead, and I can’t wait!

-Sarah Naids

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