2015 Week 8 – Leah Baer and Nathan Ritterband

Being from Memphis, I came into this summer very excited to explore the city that I grew up in as an adult. Going to bars, living downtown, and being with some of my best friends are what I looked forward to most; however, the Fellowship gave me so much more than that. I was able to meet some amazing new people, participate in many professional and social events, and intern at Shelby Farms Park, a place that is such a big (literally! It’s 4500 acres!) part of many Memphians’ lives.

This past week was packed with events like a meeting with Congressman Cohen, a tour of the metal museum, and volleyball at Sandy “Granny” Goldstein’s house. The tour of the Metal Museum was one of my favorite events from last week not only because of the wine and cheese happy hour before, but also because Betsy Rose Besser, a fellow Fellow and one of my best friends, planned it. She brought her boss to tell us about all of the awesome work that ArtsMemphis does for the art community in town, and then she arranged for the museum to stay open late for us. We got to see beautiful, unique pieces of metal artwork from around the country, and we were given a reason to hang out with each other on a Tuesday night. Betsy deserves a huge shoutout for putting this together on top of working so hard on other projects for her internship!

Swimming and Volleyball at Granny's

Swimming and Volleyball at Granny’s

Our Fellow Shabbat dinners have been a few of my favorite events this summer. It’s a time that all of us get to relax, enjoy great food, and talk about how teachings from the Torah are a part of our everyday lives. My group’s dinner was this past Friday, and it was quite the fiesta. We had a taco bar, margaritas, and a relevant conversation on things that worry us. As a busy college student, I often times forget how nice it is to celebrate Shabbat with friends and family. Good thing a Kosher deli in New Orleans sells Ricki’s challah–that’s the only thing I’ll need to convince my friends to say the prayers with me!

I can’t believe there’s only a week and a half left of the fellowship! I’m so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to be part of such a great program. I love Memphis even more now, and I’m sure I won’t be gone for too long!

-Leah Baer (Mudbug)


My experience with the TI Fellowship this summer has been spectacular. I am somewhat of a hybrid between the Fellows are from Memphis and those that are from elsewhere. I was born in Memphis and called Memphis my home for about 9 years until I moved to Florida. When I first heard about the TI Fellowship, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. It is no secret that Memphis has its rough spots. But I chose to apply in the hopes that I could reconnect with the city I was born in. Since my arrival, I have been amazed with everything Memphis has to offer. The Memphis community, especially the Jewish community, has been incredible. From our first night in Memphis, everyone I have met has been so kind in welcoming to the city. I really can’t emphasize this enough; there has not been one day in Memphis where I have felt alone, or un-wanted. The city, and the people welcomed me back with open arms and I am so grateful to be here. Seeing as we are only 2 weeks away from the close of the summer, I thought this week’s blog post would be a perfect time to reflect upon some of my most memorable experiences in the city. It is hard, however, to choose one favorite event form this summer; we’ve done a lot. We’ve gone from meeting the Rabbi to meeting our Congressman to meeting Mayor Wharton. We’ve been to every barbeque restaurant within the city limits (beef ribs, of course). We’ve connected with other young Jewish professionals living in Memphis at weekly ‘networking events’ (conveniently occurring during happy hour). We’ve toured the National Civil Rights Museum and we have seen the full behind the scenes operations of the Federal Express hub at the Memphis airport. These are just a handful of the incredible adventures the Fellowship has provided me with this summer. Outside the Fellowship there is still a remarkable city waiting to be explored. From Beale Street to Lafayette’s to the Levitt Shell, Memphis always has something to do, and it generally revolves around live music. It is incredible how much of the city I have been able to see in my short time here. The TI Fellowship has made me feel at home again in Memphis and I am so grateful to be a part of this extraordinary program. I am very excited to see what’s in store during my last few weeks in Memphis.

-Nathan Ritterband



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