2015 Week 5 – Jared Ashkenaz and Martin Berlinski

Before this summer started I couldn’t have been more excited about joining the TI Fellowship. I was really grateful to be accepted, and I knew it was the right choice life-wise, but all my past summers had been pretty laid-back, spent mostly with my dog and maybe some friends.  I was worried about the lifestyle change. Would I go into some kind of shock from having to do things during the summer? Thankfully I had some time at my house in Memphis before the fellowship began, so I was able to ease myself into the situation with plenty of sweet, sweet inactivity. But the program has really surpassed my expectations. Right away it felt pretty natural living downtown with a bunch of friends, and the various events we’ve attended have been engaging and educational. And fortunately we’re afforded a generous amount of free time to do what we want after work.

For my internship this summer I’m working at the wealth management firm Kelman-Lazarov. Going to work every day definitely requires a certain level of consistency and responsibility. My coworkers are very kind and patient, and I’m learning a lot while also forming ideas about what kind of career I want to have in the future. I’m finding that a crucial trait is a willingness to ask questions so that I have all the information I need to get the job done well. But intuition and common sense have also been important for problem-solving and developing independence. The program overall feels pretty adult, even if half of my stuff is still in my car and my food preparation is basically limited to pasta and popcorn, which I still burn occasionally. I also like that I get to try out more adult phrases like, “meet me halfway,” or “I think it’s still in my car.”

This past week we didn’t have any TI events because of the July 4th holiday, but a favorite night of mine was the “Underground” Shabbat hosted by some other young Jewish Memphians downtown. We took part in a short and sweet Friday night service and had the chance to talk about our week. It was a fun, casual way to experience some Judaism and get to know people, and I could see myself attending frequently.

Night Out in in Downtown Memphis

Night Out in Downtown Memphis

Since we all live in the same apartments, there is almost always someone around to hang out or grab a bite with. I think the fact that we’re all Jewish made it easy for us to connect because we already have a lot in common through shared camps, youth groups, and other experiences. Also there’s no television so we don’t really have a choice as far as talking to each other. I’ve definitely enjoyed keeping busy and always having people around. Furthermore, being in my hometown gives me the chance to spend time with my family and other Memphis friends who are not in the fellowship. It’s a pretty ideal setup, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for the second half of the summer.

– Jared Ashekenaz


Growing up in Buenos Aires and Brooklyn, finding myself in the company of other Jews was never a problem. Ever since moving to Little Rock, Arkansas, however, I have felt a void in terms of the Jewish community. In Little Rock, we had a small, tight-knit community. I attended one of the largest high schools in the state, yet there were only seven Jews in my graduating class. Participating in the TI Fellowship has broadened my Jewish network substantially. I am now part of a strong Jewish community that consists of several young professionals near my age. Simply spending time with a plethora of young Jews that I would have never met without the fellowship has helped strengthen my Jewish identity immeasurably.

The most enriching experience for my Jewish identity has been Shabbat dinner with the fellows each week. Every Friday, we gather as a community to pray, discuss, and eat (the trifecta for a well-balanced Jewish life). Through these dinners, I have become more knowledgeable regarding Jewish scripture and was surprised to learn how often the Torah and its teachings have real implications in my life.

I have had the privilege to work in the accounting department at Corky’s BBQ’s Corporate Headquarters for a little more than a month. In addition to learning an immense amount about corporate accounting, running a successful business, and the ins and outs of the restaurant business, I have witnessed the acts of Tikkun Olam that Corky’s performs for its hometown. I worked the Fedex-St. Jude Classic Golf Tournament in Memphis. This tournament is a big fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It was an uplifting experience seeing the meticulously planned event come to fruition and raise a lot of money for such a worthy cause. This summer has been one of the best of my life, and I owe it all to the TI Fellowship and Corky’s BBQ.

– Martin Berlinski

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